In about a month my little corner of the United Methodist Church (the Virginia Annual Conference) will be convening an event called a ‘Day of Holy Conversation on Sexuality.’
Isto Es: We’re talking about the ‘homosexuality issue’ in the Church.
While I hope the event bears fruit and I plan to participate as well, my fear is that it will be yet another church gathering where we talk about homosexuals in the Church rather than talk with– or, better, listen to– homosexuals in the Church.
No gay Christians will be among the official presenters at the Day of Conversation.
(I asked and then politely advocated)
I understand that putting together an event like this for so many disparate parties is a sisyphean task so I can grumble but not begrudge their decision.
But here’s something every pastor knows and everyone who volleys soundbites should know:
Homosexuals exist in the big -C- Church.
Worshipping. Leading. Fellowshipping. Grieving. Serving. We baptize them. Hand them the Eucharist. Confirm them. Bury them.
The reality in the Church is marriage is the only thing we don’t do for them/with them.
Gay Christians have existed in every little -c- church I’ve served, from the lucky-to-have-30-on-Sunday congregation in Jersey to the prison congregation I ‘chaplained’ to my present congregation just outside DC.
You could double the size of that Jersey church if you just rounded up all the congregants I’ve known with gay children. And I even know a few at the church where the Day of Conversation will be convened.
Something else every pastor knows and every partisan on TV should know:
Most people in churches have no problem with those gay Christians in their congregation.
In the flesh, grace almost always trumps doctrine.
So regardless of how one feels about the ‘issue’ and what one thinks the Church’s position should be on it, the fact remains that gay Christians aren’t simply ‘issues.’
They’re not reducible to an issue because they’re people.
They are fruit-bearing (yes, they are) parts of Christ’s Church.
Are they sinning members of Christ’s Church? Sure. But so am I.
I suspect the reason this ‘issue’ is so painful and difficult for the Church is precisely because gay Christians are a part of all our congregations, because their faith bears fruit and because church members bear them much love and friendship.
But that’s exactly the reason too, I think, that they deserve to have their Church listen to them.
All of that is just prologue to say that I think this video, already viral in the church nerd world, gets at the ‘conversation’ exactly the right way. Props to the saints and sinners at House for All.
In case the video doesn’t load on your computer, you can find it here: