This weekend has been a very stressful one for me. The legislative body of my denomination is meeting this weekend to determine where we stand as a denomination on the inclusion of LGBTQI people in the life of the church. There are a variety of options on the table. The choices range from full inclusion at every level to complete exclusion of LGBTQI people and punishment of those clergy or groups that ignore exclusionary regulations. My hope is that we will choose full inclusion. My fear is that we will choose the opposite. I believe the most realistic outcome is that we will choose something in the middle. No matter what happens, no matter what choice is ultimately made, the inevitable consequence is that my denomination will never be the same. Those who do not get what they want will leave. Those who are excluded will leave. The church will be broken.
In reality, of course, the church is already broken.
We would not be where we are right now if the church wasn’t already broken.
When we get to a point where we are debating who does and does not belong in the church we are no longer the church, we are something else. When we draw lines and determine who is inside and who is outside we step away from Jesus’ command to love one another. When we say someone is not deserving we ignore the gospel message that God loves the world. When we punish people for including as many people as we can, we are denying the reality that God’s grace is given to each person regardless of who they are. There is no way to even justify having this debate while being the Church in the world.
I have never been an outsider in my Church. Even when I could have been made to feel less than or like I was overstepping, I was embraced. I don’t really know what it is to not be welcomed. I said once in an interview that I am a square peg in a square hole. I fit in my denomination. Not everyone has had that experience. That is a failure of our church.
Jesus found those on the margins and included them. He challenged those with power and privilege to open themselves to the outcasts and outsiders. When the we forget these basics of the faith we forget who we are supposed to be as followers of Jesus. God doesn’t place boundaries on love and inclusion and neither should we.
The church is broken and my heart is broken with it.