come out come out: then they said …

This post is a part of an ongoing set of posts that is an email exchange between a friend and me. See here and here and here (in that order) for previous posts and comments (or just scroll down to earlier posts, but don’t miss the comments). I am intentionally not jumping into the conversation in the comments (just yet), but am glad to have my friend in the mix, and I am deeply listening to what each of you has offered. Thank you SO much for lending your voice to the conversation.

My friend replied (with a caveat of a head cold in case of fuzzy headedness):

i’m struck by your comment: “I think you are right—saying nothing is/can be¬†dangerous. But so is saying something. Definitive statements draw circles, who is in, who is out. I just can’t be the one drawing those circles for the whole Body of Christ.” i think in some ways you’re right: conversations about doctrine or practices can make an in and out crowd. i totally get that. but i think there is also a point where one needs to say “NO” this is not acceptable. this is not what we are about. No, we do not condone spousal abuse. No, we do not condone racism. Does that leave some people outside of the circle? maybe. but there comes a point where, while praying and working for their reunification and healing you have to also say your presence or stance or attitude is harmful to our community.

i, too, want people to work things out in their own way and their own time. I get that there needs to be time and space for that to happen. and I’m okay with that. hell, it took me years to come to terms with my own life. i understand people have issues to work out. i’m okay with them being silent. but for those who have worked out the issues and who are afraid/refuse to take a stand because they will lose sway within whatever larger evangelical world in which they live, that i have a problem with. and i think that is what is happening with some of the spokespeople for solomon’s porch. and it’s toward them that my anger and frustration is directed.

and i TOTALLY HEAR YOU on not wanting to be “that” voice every time. and that’s why i want some of the straight folks to take a stand. i don’t want to be seen as “the trans guy”. i don’t want to have to be a walking educational flyer for people. i don’t want my other gifts and hobbies to be so overshadowed by this “queer” thing that that’s all people see when they look at me. which is why i need other people to be good allies. to do their homework and to advocate. and quite frankly when i was in my own discernment process about queer issues i really needed to hear from straight christians that queerness was okay. that would have meant the world to me.

and when i say that solomon’s porch needs to take a stand it’s coming from that place. it’s not that i need everyone to be at the same place in their journey, but i need for the folks who ARE at a place of acceptance to be gently nudging the others along. i need doug to not just say to me, “well, there are queer people here and we’re friendly” in my response to asking if solomon’s porch is queer friendly. he needs to be able to answer that question better. because what his words do is say, this is not a safe place for you. we’ll be nice to you, but we won’t support your “lifestyle”. that’s what i hear in his statement and that’s what i find so damaging.

and in light of all of the recent queer youth suicides the line that keeps echoing through my head (as a conviction to me) is “your silence will not save you.” i struggle with my own complicity because while i speak out for queer folks all the time, i also have the privilege of being invisible as a queer person. which doesn’t really relate directly to our conversation but i thought i would share it. i am just convicted in that when people DON’T take a stand, in effect they are taking a stand. if i don’t speak up when someone says something shitty because i don’t want to be seen as queer then i am at fault. if someone doesn’t stand up and speak out against bullying they are in effect saying that bullying is okay.

and again, none of this is to gang up on you or even solomon’s porch. instead i’m trying to speak to a larger issue that i see within the emergent church conversation.

i don’t want you to have to be or do anything you don’t feel called to. you deserve a place to simply be yourself and to worship.

anyway, hope this all makes sense. i am loving being able to have this respectful conversation with you.

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6 thoughts on “come out come out: then they said …

  1. This quote: “i really needed to hear from straight christians that queerness was okay. that would have meant the world to me” is what I hear from so many and is the main reason I am so vocal about my support of LGBT people – and it is the main reason I would love to see more churches officially state they are affirming.

    In the area of the country I live in there are many, many churches that include on their website or in their material that they believe same sex relationships are sinful/prohibited/hated by God and very few that officially state they are affirming and supportive of LBGT people.

    There is so much negative and hateful rhetoric that has gone on and is still going on I feel like there are many who need to hear a positive message loud and clear from Christians and churches.

    It is definitely a sacrifice for a church to make this statement as it does almost immediately cause people to remove their support and I don’t think everything at the church or even a lot has to or should revolve around that statement but…

    after all the conversation I do lean towards believing that at this time, in this culture any church who is affirming should make it easily known to the general public.

    I don’t think anyone should stop being a part of SP because they don’t make the statement – although I don’t think it is wrong not to be a part because they don’t make the statement.

    What I hope is that SP and other churches that are affirming but do not make official statements (and remain sort of vague with remarks like “we have queers here and we are friendly”) would revisit the idea of explicity and publicly stating their position because of the present climate and what has gone on in the past.

  2. This has been a good and thought-provoking series to read. I’m another one of the gays at the Porch.

    Part of what makes the Porch unique is that we don’t tend to think of ourselves as a single entity. Maybe “we” should put up a statement of support… but who’s “we”? Should someone take a survey to ensure everyone in the church really supports this? What if there are some who don’t? What message do we send them by making the statement anyway?

    That said, while I’m not sure it’s feasible to put up a “welcoming and affirming” statement, or whatever it usually looks like — I *would* like to be able to say something, something stronger than “we’re friendly and there are queers here.” Maybe something more like:

    “If you’re LGBT, the Porch will welcome and love you and your partner as members of our community. You’ll find many devoted and affirming allies here, as well as active LGBT members. But you may also meet people here who aren’t sure of their support, or who have deeply-held reservations. That’s a challenge, but we make it work. We don’t require our participants to agree on every issue: all we ask is that we live in love and in community with one another, no matter where we stand.”

  3. I think that SP is a very diverse community that has made one definite statement (or some versions of it): we believe in God and strive to live in the Way of Jesus. Individuals do that in many different ways, and we usually work it out together. The details of our lives, beliefs, opinions, phobias, whatever, are individual, and we can grow together based on the one thing we do agree on: Jesus. I come from a very conservative background, and if SP had made a statement about homosexuality years ago, I wouldn’t have started going. But I am so happy to say that there was no line drawn, and I had the opportunity to learn and grow with people who were different than myself.

  4. I feel the need to clarify that I love that SP a queer-friendly church, and that I think more people who come from a background similar to my own (mainstream, somewhat legalistic) also would not give themselves the opportunity to learn and grow at SP if we did make an official statement about it.

  5. Pingback: come out come out: WWSS (what would sweetie say) « The Sweet Bi and Bi

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