Yesterday, I wrote a post titled Hypocrites and Pharisees that stirred up some discussion on the Outlaw Pastors Facebook page. It was about two gay men being assaulted in the parking lot of a church that is pastored by one of the men’s father. In the post, I took the Church (universal) to task for allowing such a thing to happen, pointed out our culpability in the matter and dared anyone to show me scripture that would back up such actions. A couple of people took exception to what I said, saying it was an isolated incident and that the church where it happened was “messed up”. Another agreed with me, saying that we should work to build relationships with these churches so we can have this conversation in a non-threatening way. The one that really got to me, though, came from Pastor Nar, who asked me how I thought we should address things like this. I left a comment on Facebook, but decided to deal with the question with more depth here. I go into some of this in the FB comment, so there will be some repetition:
- Realize that as members of the body of Christ, we are part of this problem. We can’t just say “Oh, those people are idiots” or claim that it’s not us, it’s them; it’s all of us or none of us. Through our silence, our continued connection to these groups through the label of “church” and in not dealing with this issue long before now, we bear some responsibility for this incident, the protests staged by Westborough Baptist Church and any other act that demeans, marginalizes and discriminates against anyone, not just those in the LGBT community.
- Understand that what happened at Grace Fellowship isn’t an isolated incident, it’s just the most extreme…, for now. Our LGBT brothers and sisters face a much more low-key and insidious discrimination on a daily basis from the very place that should be welcoming them with open arms.
- Get on own house in order before worrying about our neighbor’s. Right now, the United Methodist Church is preparing to debate whether openly gay people should be ordained as clergy. Did you hear that? They’re going to debate whether LGBT people are worthy of being ordained in the Methodist Church, a denomination built on the principles of social justice. Several other large, mainstream denominations have already made this step, but other steps remain to be taken. Marriage should be open to any consenting adult couple that desires it; our doors, hearts and minds should be truly open and we should all work for an end to the legalism (i.e. church trials) that is part and parcel of many mainstream churches.
- Get to know the people in these churches we so haughtily deem “messed up”. They are our brothers and sisters, after all, and much of the backlash we’re seeing now is because things are moving faster than they can process. Maybe if we built relationships with these folks, we’d understand where they’re coming from and help them through what will probably be a rough transition for them. Because, full equality for the LGBT community is coming, no matter how anyone feels.
I don’t know if any of this will work, or if it’s even possible. But, I do think it’s worth a try.