Removing the wedge

I'm celebrating with Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network and the Synchroblog for Sanity today.  Bloggers from all over the world are writing about bringing understanding, compassion, and sanity to the ongoing conversation about Christianity and LGBT.

I serve at the pastor of an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ. In public and in practice, we say that we celebrate every person as a child of God created in God’s image. And we welcome people of every age, economic status, ethnic origin, gender, marital status, mental and physical ability, political affiliation, and sexual orientation. 

And I recognize that not every person in the pews and not every person in all of Christ’s church agree. Faithful and intelligent Bible scholars don’t always agree on things. They don’t agree on Biblical interpretation. Concerning wedge issues like homosexuality, folks share passionate rhetoric and experiences on both sides. It seems that it is not only difficult, but also seemingly impossible to have a conversation about LGBT inclusion without emotions flaring. Among Christians there are vastly different opinions about the subject. No matter what the side, those speaking are sure that their interpretation is the correct one.

And this post isn’t going to settle any debate.

Instead, I’d like to suggest that although the church is very skilled in the emotional debates and the all-too-often caustic language relating to LGBT folk, the church has also marginalized and missed out on the opportunity to minister to some wonderful people.

Things must change. The wedge that drives people to hateful and caustic words and actions has to be removed. Instead, the church needs to reach out and invite LGBT folks to participate fully in congregational life. The church needs to remember that the rule of love trumps any conviction on any issue relating to anything LGBT. The church needs to be ready to welcome all of God’s people exactly as they are- with no agenda other than welcome, inclusion, and love.

Let’s all give each other a break and be God’s loving presence to all people. I think that’s what all faith communities should be.

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