May 12, 2016 at 2:50 pm #15022
The more I contemplate on biblical witness and reflect on the behavior of churches, the more convinced I have become that the tensions and conflict are not accidental or situational.¬† Why does the Church, ostensibly following a Messiah who broke bread with ‘tax collectors and sinners,’ so often retreat into practices of exclusion and the quarantine of gated communities?¬† There is something intrinsic to the relationship between mercy and sacrifice that brings both of these into conflict.¬† I am, however, having difficulty understanding the dynamics that link mercy and sacrifice and fuel the tension between the Church and the LGBTQ community.
I see this as a particular psychological dynamic — essentially disgust psychology — which is regulating the interplay between the church and us.¬† There is a no problem in ‘swallowing what’s on the inside’, but there is disgust in swallowing something that is ‘outside’, even if that ‘something’ was on the inside just a second ago.¬† This is at the heart of the conflict in Matthew 9.¬† How are we to draw the boundaries of exclusion and inclusion (who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’) in the life of the church?¬† Sacrifice creates a zone of holiness, admitting the “clean” and expelling the “unclean”.¬† Mercy, on the other hand, blurs the distinction, bringing clean and unclean into contact.¬† That is the tension.¬† One impulse (holiness and purity) erects boundaries, while the other (mercy and hospitality) crosses and ignores these boundaries.¬† It is very hard to erect a boundary and then dismantle it at the same time.¬† One has to choose.¬† There seems to be little way of compromise.¬† Both the Church and the LGBTQ community stand on opposite sides of¬† psychological (clean versus unclean), social (inclusion versus exclusion) and theological (saints versus sinners) boundaries.
The Church may seemingly, and officially, be welcoming but does not affirm our sisters and brothers who happen to be gay yet seek covenantal, Christian relationships and family.¬† It claims to welcome LGBT covenanters to attend, tithe and give to the church ‚ÄĒ but when it comes to leadership roles, o r marriage, it¬†turns them away.¬† Or greets them with silence.¬† We belong, not because of what we did or did not do or how we may fall short, but simply because God includes us.¬† I simply feel invisible in the Church.¬† So I’m tempted to really truly disappear, and therefore not attach such negative connotations to one of my key spiritual experiences.
Everywhere we read “we continue the journey with our LGBTQ people”; “the next step is full inclusion”; “remove the barriers”; “how do we walk together without judging”; “we must support and encourage one another to stay in the circle and walk together”.¬† Frankly, I am not certain I still have the strength, nor the interest, in walking in a circle ad nauseum.¬† I am tired of being a 95% Anglican.¬† I want to be a 100% Anglican but I don’t see this happening very soon, and I am no longer willing to accept “the church takes time, a long time”¬† In the meantime we’re nearly 20% through the 21st Century and there is little hope, if any, that I will be able to be a 100% Anglican.
May 29, 2016 at 2:53 am #15301
Today I attended a membership class to join the church and discovered they say they embrace and welcome gays, but will not acknowledge marriage, even tho it is legal. ¬†I felt sadden by this response. ¬†How can they say they welcome and yet not welcome. ¬†It didn’t make sense to me. ¬†I am a Christian and very strong in my faith and have a lot to offer in ministries. ¬†I am also a licensed and ordained Pastor. ¬†I’m so disappointed. ¬†The church has a long way to come in loving, embracing and encouraging who I am, a gay man.
May 29, 2016 at 11:05 pm #15318
I understand your disappointment and questioning of what seems to be another hypocritical stance of the ‘Church’. ¬†I, too, cannot understand why, as an example, the Anglican Church of Canada is still debating the issue, while the Episcopal Church of the USA has already dealt with the matter and same-gender marriage is available to their adherents. ¬†Both are part of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
But, don’t despair . . . in the US you have the MCC, the UCC, and others that have “seen the light”. ¬†Maybe they have a parish/group/organization in your area.
It’s a slow process . . . but I, personally, am running out of patience! ¬†After all, we are now in the 21st century. ¬†“Church” is still stuck in the 16th and 17th centuries.
As one of my theology professors once said, “Everything was fine with religion until the theologians took hold of it!” ¬†How true?
Hang in there! ¬†If we all become ‘visible’ and ‘proud’, someday . . .
Blessed by God, our refuge . . .
Go with God!
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