True to form, I haven’t packed yet for the national Mennonite convention in Phoenix. I have, however, been avoiding pink clothes this week to make sure they are clean when I do pack.
Because once again I will be joining with other Pink Mennos to bear witness to our denomination–witness to the hurt and exclusion many sexual minorities face within the church; witness to the love and acceptance required of us as we walk the way of Jesus.
I wear pink knowing that it will upset some people. People who feel threatened by it. People who feel like they are being judged and scolded every time they see someone in pink. People who fear that the church they love is moving away from the scriptures they love. People who are confused by the mixed messages about sexuality that they receive from within the church.
Awhile back I asked our denomination’s executive director how someone with my theological beliefs can work toward healthy relationships with others in the church who believe differently. He said a lot of things, but one basic and strong suggestion was to NOT wear pink. “It makes people feel defensive,” he said.
To be honest, his words made me feel defensive. I didn’t respond to him in the moment, but I have been thinking about what he said. And why it made me feel defensive. And why I’m packing pink anyway.
For one thing, at the last national convention this same executive director got up in front of the entire delegate assembly and affirmed that his personal convictions are in line with the so-called “teaching position” of the denomination: “that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life” (from the Confession of Faith), and that homosexual activity is sin (from earlier denominational statements).
Somehow his use of authority and position to condemn an entire group of people was acceptable, but me wearing a certain color to show my acceptance of those same people is offensive.
Maybe if I had an opportunity to address the entire delegate assembly and share my theological views on human sexuality, I would not feel the need to communicate that same information with the color of my clothing. Actually, I did not wear pink (except for my mostly hidden ankle bracelet) at our conference assembly last year, because most people there knew who I was and where I stood.
But the invitation to address the gathered body at Phoenix has not come. (Though I am super excited to be co-preaching at the inclusive worship service there!)
So I will pack pink.
I will pack pink because people who say, “It’s obvious that the Bible condemns homosexuality,” need to know that it is not obvious to all of us.
I will pack pink because sexual minorities who have been pushed out of the church for so long need to know that some people are working to make a safe space for them.
I will pack pink because, while some people will respond with anger, others will respond with curiosity.
I will pack pink because, by associating myself with Pink Mennos, I will be accountable to the group’s standards of faithfulness, gentleness, and love for all.
I will pack pink because I am doing my best to follow the path of Jesus Christ.
I will pack pink because, well . . . those are the clothes that are clean right now and I’m getting on the bus tomorrow.