it has been said that the definition of insanity is to repeat the same behavior again and again expecting different results.
and as we discussed in yesterday’s post what we’ve been doing is not working.
the reputation of the church within the broader LGBT community is more of a hindrance than a help to bringing people on either side closer to jesus.
even well-intentioned efforts to engage in conversation with the LGBT community not only have failed to promote peaceful and productive conversation, but have alienated an entire population of people, making the message of christ essentially inaccessible to that population.
that is unacceptable.
what jesus said we are to be known for is our love. somewhere along the way, specifically in this conversation, we’ve messed that up.
so why do we continue to repeat the same behavior? are we insane?
• is this because the conservative evangelical community wants to ‘stand up’ for truth?
• is the cause of the Great Debate coming from the fight between a traditional and progressive interpretation of merely a handful of verses in an ancient sacred text full of tens of thousands more?
• is it a fear of what is unknown, what is different, what is Other?
or could it be because we in the church have an unhealthy addiction to what i’ve called ‘an answer culture’?
as one who engages in this dialogue on a daily basis, i am convinced we are addicted to judgment, polarizing language and declarations of Truth (emphasized with a capital ‘T’) - and we consistently look to our leaders to spoon feed us theology in black and white absolutes. as we do so, we alienate and demonize those with whom we disagree, most often in an effort to convert and convince each other that we alone have the answer.
even when pastors truly desire to elevate the conversation with their congregation regarding discussion between the church and the LGBT community, it’s often paired with a caveat attachment of ‘but for the record, we don’t agree with…‘
we fear ambiguity.
and yet, on such a potentially polarizing issue with such devastatingly divisive results, wouldn’t it be beneficial to allow for differing viewpoints on secondary issues such as opinions on a handful of verses or a cluster of closed ended questions?
or are we more loyal to answering secondary theological issues than we are the gospel of reconciliation?
• what would it look like to seek reconciliation over conversion to a specific perspective?
• what would it look like to create safe and sacred spaces in our churches where we could welcome wrestling with nuance?
• what would it look like for our churches to create conversations and dialogue rather than to serve as lecture halls?
while the easier path would be to try and persuade people to convert to a particular worldview or way of thinking about the gay community, i am convinced the better way – the narrow path – the way of jesus – is to treat all people with dignity and respect – no matter their theological position.
making dogmatic, finalized statements that lack clarification, conversation, and relationship in a public forum is unhelpful in elevating the conversation with the gay community.
i realize there will be disagreement among people of faith about whether or not gay relationships should be celebrated and consecrated by the church.
churches disagree on a lot of things. that’s why we have so many of them.
i’m not asking that people give up their convictions.
but we desperately need to change our culture.
we need to learn to co-exist with individuals that may see the world differently than we do. to ask either the conservative or progressive communities to change what they believe is simply not realistic – it is naively idealistic for both sides, and does not take into account the reality that this will never happen.
there will always be an opposing worldview, no matter which side of the discussion one is on.
disagreement isn’t the problem.
we can’t demand someone change what they believe – but we should expect change in how we behave toward one another.
perhaps that begins with a posture of humility, and the possibility that God may be up to something greater than our firm positions on sexuality.
what do you think?