Some of you know my friends Audrey and Derek. They and some other wonderful folks have been working really hard (with incredible determination, humility and compassion) to get into presenting order a resolution that will come before the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in July of this year.
You can read the full resolution here. And I would encourage you to do so, paying close attention to what it actually says–as opposed to what someone tells you it says. The “resolved” part reads like this:
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) declares itself to be a people of grace and welcome to all God’s children–inclusive of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, or physical ability;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) affirms the faith, baptism and spiritual gifts of all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that neither are grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, but are a part of God’s good creation;
FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that all expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as a people of grace and welcome, are encouraged similarly to declare their support for the welcome of and hospitality to all Christians, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, or physical ability.
My Methodist and Presbyterian and Episcopal colleagues and friends (and probably others I don’t know about) have known in recent years the pain and chaos that can erupt from the sorts of conversations that resolutions such as this one sometimes lead to–all because of explosive little words and phrases like “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.”
I stand in full support of this resolution–and that doesn’t, in the grand scheme of things,likely matter a hill of beans. Still, I do–and I’ll be talking about it a good bit between now and July whenever I have a chance, because I think it is absolutely crucial conversation–even as it is potentially difficult and painful conversation.
And so, though I feel a bit like a broken record, I’ll say again why I believe this resolution is a good thing, and why I believe people of faith must be willing have it:
1. Either the Table (Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, communion–whatever you want to call it) is open to all or it isn’t. There aren’t exceptions or side rules or prerequisites or qualification exams. An open table is an open table and we human beings do not get to decide who comes and who doesn’t, because it isn’t even our Table to begin with. It’s God’s.
2. “But the bible says….!” The bible says lots of things that have been interpreted in a variety of ways over thousands of years. Let us not forget we used to use that bible to declare slavery okay, African-Americans “less than” and women not worthy enough to be leaders in church or anywhere else. We regret that now (and we’ll regret this, too, one day).
3. I truly believe that the ostracizing and judging of men and women and youth of the GLBT community is the last great “acceptable” prejudice in this world (most certainly in the United States). And it is so long past time to move on. The church ought to be leading the way in this moving on, as opposed to often being a major stumbling block.
4. This resolution? It doesn’t issue any edict. Or tell any one church or pastor or community what they have to do. It doesn’t say, “You must like all gay people!” and it doesn’t require a church to hire a lesbian pastor. It doesn’t threaten anyone–it simply asks that we find a way to love each other and recognize and respect and celebrate the gifts we all have aside from whatever labels we’ve been tagged with in this life.
5. It is so very humble. And kind. And firmly tender in its request that we, please, in the name of all that is good and merciful, treat each other with the very same grace and welcome that has been issued, by the God who created us, to us all.
I already have a knot in my stomach when I think about people yelling about this at each other across an Assembly hall floor. And my great prayer is that it will not come to that. We’ve done enough yelling. Enough finger-pointing. Enough blaming and enough judging. Even still, it may happen, and my heart will break (again) over the ways we children of God divide ourselves off from one another with such certainty and ease, as if any of us is more worthy of God’s grace than another, as if any of us has the corner on what it means to follow Jesus, as if any of us have the all the right answers, all the time.
Everything in me, everything I believe about God, and everything I have been taught about the bible, and everything I have experienced as part of many faith communities tells me that this resolution is a good and graceful and the-time-is-right thing.
And so I can’t wait to say, “Yes!”
But even more–please believe me, even more–I cannot wait for the day when such conversations, such resolutions, are no longer necessary, because we have found a way, finally, to love as God loves, to see as God sees, to welcome as God welcomes–finally and blessedly coming into full communion with the very Source of our creation.
May it be so.