Here’s the Thing

Lots of people disagree with my biblical interpretation regarding homosexuality (among other things). As a pastor who has officiated a wedding for two women, I’ve had the biblical conversation many times. I told my husband this morning that I could exegete those “gay” passages in my sleep.

But beyond the question of biblical interpretation, another interesting moral issue continually reemerges as I listen to conversations about my choice to officiate “the wedding.”

What about church unity? If you want to marry gay people, why not just be part of a denomination that will let you marry gay people? Why do you have to come around causing problems in the Mennonite church? Can’t you see we’re just trying to be peaceful and mind our own business?

Here’s the thing, though–I am not United Church of Christ or Presbyterian or Episcopalian. I am Mennonite. Anabaptist to the core. I will not baptize babies. I will not put a flag in a place of worship. I value simplicity and discipleship and community. And if I get to sing a few hymns in four-part harmony every week, that’s a bonus! I want my life to mirror the life of Christ, and I cannot find any other group of Christians that encourages me in this pursuit as well as the Mennonites.

And here’s the thing–there are so many GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) people who also want to follow Jesus in this way. They want–they need–a Mennonite community as much as I do. It breaks my heart to know of sexual minorities who cannot find a faith home because the churches that most resonate with their souls will not welcome them in the fullness of who they are.

And here’s the thing–the Mennonite church needs the graces and gifts of GLBT folks as well. It breaks my heart to think of the wonderful leadership, music, art, ministry that the church is missing out on because we do not fully include GLBT people. (I wish you all could know Randy Spaulding and Sarah Klaassen.) At a recent preaching conference I met a young woman pastor from United Church of Canada. When I told her I was Mennonite she said, “Oh, I have a lot of lesbian friends who used to be Mennonite.”

And here’s the thing–from my perspective, according to my reading of the Gospel, anything less than full inclusion for gays and lesbians in our churches is an injustice. More than that, our failure to embrace and support sexual minorities is a rejection of Jesus’ way of love.  It is to side with the religious powers that be–some of whom make good money off of their tirades against gay people–over and against the radical message of Jesus.

Here’s the thing–as a Mennonite, my faith legacy is littered with trouble makers–from Jesus, through the early Anabaptists, to the war resisters of the 20th century and the peace activists of today. Causing problems is in my spiritual DNA.

And here’s the thing–I do value the unity of the church, believe it or not. But it’s not true unity when a segment of God’s children are excluded. It’s easy to create unity when you only let in the people that agree with you.

Here’s the thing–I think most people in the Mennonite church are seeking to interpret scripture faithfully. I think most of us long for the fullness of God’s goodness in the church. I think most of us want unity, but not at the expense of integrity.

So here’s the thing–the real thing–according to Jesus:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind . . . Love your neighbor as yourself.

By God’s grace, may it be so.

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11 thoughts on “Here’s the Thing

    • Not sure I’d be able to read print that small, Philip, but I appreciate the thought. Hope all is well with you.

  1. This is so to the point and loving at the same time. God has truly blessed you with a gift of words and with a generous, grace-filled heart. We are blessed.

  2. This is a wonderful point. I have not heard it before.

    When I left the Anglicans and joined the Quakers because I would be accepted as transsexual, I found my spiritual home. And- I still love the Anglican church, and I could have been a gift to it.

    May I perform an introduction? Have you met Michelle Krabill? http://wordofawoman.com/ I feel we should encourage each other.

    • Clare, thank you for sharing a bit of your story and for pointing me to Michelle’s blog. I have deep gratitude in my heart this morning for so many wonderful companions on the journey. Peace to you.

  3. speaking as a straight person who fully supports GLBT rights, I feel blessed to read your viewpoint. I am glad that a person of faith is speaking out so forcefully and eloquently in defense of these basic human rights. In my social studies classes at school, we have often debated the issue of gay marriage and I still get the occasional argument that Jesus was against homosexuality. I have always challenged those students to find for me the quote from the Gospels where Jesus made that statement. To date, none have successfully done so. They tend to quote Paul or the Old Testament, but not the Messiah. I like your view of Christianity as an inclusive and radically loving expression of faith. My hope and prayers will be that more people allow themselves to see that light.

    • Thanks, Mike! Glad to know you are speaking out at school. That’s one place that I do not have a voice anymore. It takes all of us speaking truth as lovingly as possible wherever we can.

  4. Pingback: About Gays and Mennonites « Gay Mennonite League

  5. Pingback: Spacious Faith in 2012 « Spacious Faith

  6. Here’s the other thing, you cause those who disagree with you to be in a situation where we have to tolerate sin. I understand your opinion, you and those who agree with you should join together in fellowship not cause the rest of the Mennonite church to rip apart. We do accept liars, and cheaters and all those other sinners but Christ (and his church) rebukes that sin and we all as sinners need to turn away from our sin, not try to justify it because it is not the same sin and somebody else’s. Yes, all of us are naturally inclined to some sin or another, however, I cannot raise my children in a church that would say this person’s sin is really okay because they disagree with my interpretation of scripture. Not fair to us to put us in that situation.

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