It was not even a full week after SCOTUS handed down its decision. We were wrapping up a student ministry service and I was picking around on my Martin (very skillfully, might I add.) The air was thick with expectant worship, an uncommon thing among today’s youth. One topic change later, like a Spirit-sucking vacuum, there we were. We were talking about it. I don’t even remember the reason it came up, but I remember how I felt.
It was as though everyone in the room had lined up on one wall, opposite me. I heard all of the arguments reaching across the void between us.
The Bible is clear.
It just isn’t natural.
They are choosing to sin.
No one could argue. No one could stand up and offer an opinion, not that anyone would have. The same sentiments were echoed the following Sunday morning, to much the same effect.
I write this understanding that I have no idea how much pain and hurt we, the Church, have caused our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. But I do know that I experienced some fraction of that pain in those moments. My church was the one that left the sensitive topics to small-group discussions and intimate conversations. My church was the one that didn’t engage in huge political commentary on Sunday mornings. My church was the one where a variety of ideas and beliefs could exist in tension, true to the Baptist heritage. I guess we aren’t that church anymore.
I believe that Jesus would bless gay marriage. I feel there is a strong, biblical case in favor of same-sex marriages. And I am afraid that my church is on the wrong side of this struggle: one that looks similar to other human rights issues in our not-so-distant past.
But this is still my church. These churches are still our churches. Like Israel’s prophets, I belong to the larger community. We still worship the same God. But what does my voice sound like in response to this misguided teaching?
That is what I am wrestling with. The last thing my church needs is another man-shaped hole in the wall, marking the time and place where the most recent offense occurred. I think we need people who stay. Imaginations and ideas and stories and experiences that stay. They can remind us that our own individual experience is limited. They can remind us of the pain we have caused and lead us to restoration in Christ. And they can help us interpret our Scriptures through the grace and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
We do a dangerous thing when we elevate certain passages of Scripture over God’s fullest revelation in Jesus and over the witness of the Holy Spirit through the church. We need people in churches to speak up, to thoughtfully examine tradition and to wrestle with these issues. Perhaps we might open these gates a little wider. Who knows how many more long to come inside?