Stay and Fight?

In this blog, I’ve made it plain how I feel about the way the Church (universal) treats gay people.  But, in case you missed that little tidbit, I’m disgusted by it.  A couple of days ago, I commented on another blog about this very subject.  The post itself had nothing to do with the homosexuality but, somehow, the suicide of gay teenagers came up.  One comment said “it’s quite a leap to blame the church for those suicides”.  My response went:

“I don’t think that blaming the Church (universal) for teen homosexual suicides is much of a leap at all. Not when you consider that the Church has, for years, been the main purveyor of hopelessness for gay people. Imagine you’re born into a deeply religious family. Then, imagine you’re gay and have felt that way as long as you can remember. All you hear in church is that you’re an abomination and should be put to death. At the same time, you hear that “God made you just the way you are”. How would you react to that? Oh, but, wait, it gets better! After all that, you finally screw up the courage to come out to your family and what happens? They disown you, tell you you’re disgusting and want nothing more to do with you. It’s a wonder to me that more young gay people don’t commit suicide with the way we’ve stacked the deck against them. I’m straight and a Methodist and our stance on homosexuality is so two-faced, it makes me sick. It has me considering whether to remain a member of the UMC.”

Even more than the overall religious community’s stance on homosexuals and faith, I’ve struggled with the United Methodist Church’s lack of a position.  I lay it all out in a post called “What Should We Do?“.  What we’re doing is cowardly.  We don’t want to bring on a split or, even worse, see contributions go down and our answer is no answer at all.  That has changed a bit.  Recently, the Legislative Council (I think, don’t quote on the who part) decided that pastors could exclude gay people from membership.  While our leadership still displays a mile-wide yellow streak up their back, they have taken a step on the matter, ruling that pastor’s can exclude openly homosexual people from church membership.  It’s a step all right, in the wrong direction.  There is cause for hope, however slight.  I was speaking with my pastor about this very subject recently and he told me that the last vote on overall policy (back in ’08) was much closer than it’s been in years.  The basic thrust of his comments were to just hang in there, it’ll get better.  Maybe it will, but, right now seems to be getting worse . 

My feelings on the subject were bad enough until this weekend.  That’s when I heard Bart Campolo talk about fulfilling Jesus commandment to love each.  On Sunday, he specifically said, if you’re going to love people, then one of those groups has to be gay people.  He also told us that if we stood by and let someone get bullied, we were just as wrong as the bully.  As he said it, I realized that I’m a silent partner in the church’s bullying of people who are different from us and I’m not comfortable with that.  I’m beginning to believe it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and do something.  The question is what?  Do I stay a member of the UMC and work for change from within?  Or do I tell them I can no longer be a party to the abuse of our LGBT brothers and sisters?  What do I do?