Last night at Brewing on Belief, we tackled Homosexuality and the Church. We had a great turnout, in particular among first-timers drawn in due to the topic, and we had a frank open conversation about personal experiences of reactions to the presence of LGBT persons in a church community.
I was struck when discussing personal experiences of how much of a dichotomy exists between churches that do not accept homosexuality and churches that are more open. But, even when discussing the churches that are open, how their openness only stretches so far, potentially failing where they could be leaders. There seemed to be the sense that even the open and accepting churches are not affirming all members of their community.
As a younger member of my church, I see a generational issue underneath the reasoning behind not being a more affirming and public leader on this issue. For Episcopalians, the long-standing tradition is to not be nosy, not be loud, and not to tell others what they should believe. Unfortunately for us, this has created a situation where our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community can rightfully become frustrated with a perceived lack of action, or at the very least with the slow pace of change. On the other hand, those in my generation are ourselves becoming frustrated because we are not a generation that is willing to sit back and let others lead us to nowhere. The trick is to lead the church into the future, while also respecting those that have come before and have laid the foundations of our church.
To lead, we only need to point to the simplest of Jesus’ lessons, love your neighbor. Jesus does not say, only love your neighbors that you agree with, and he definitely does not teach us to single out certain neighbors to express hatred towards. Rather, love your neighbor extends to all. And if we are a church founded on the basis of love, then we have a responsibility to stand up for all our brothers and sisters when they are unjustly persecuted for living their life as God made them. When we accept this radical call, we must also accept with it the call to bring that message out to all, instead of only sharing it within our congregations with no intent to act.
In the Brewing on Belief sense of open conversation, I put it to you:
What has been your reactions with the presence of homosexuality in the church?
What should the Church be doing on this issue?
What further questions do you have on this issue?