Recently, I attended a meeting at my church that still has me as a member. There was a presentation from the district supervisor. She challenged us, the local leadership, to speak out more boldly and define a clear strategy. After the meeting, I asked her to take that same challenge back to her leaders. I’m in that church that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show compared to Phoenix University. Like many protestant denominations, you can go to two different churches under the same name and not see similarities in the theology.
I have tried to discern the beliefs of the leadership, and it sometimes seems that they are trying to determine the same thing from us. Maybe they are just trying to figure out what will be acceptable to those in the pews, what will keep the offerings coming. If that seems counter to an organization based on firm and long standing beliefs, well it kinda is. If a leader claims to know what was in the minds of people 2,000 years ago, I usually don’t talk to them again. I have become increasingly demanding for what I accept as a modern interpretation old scripture.
So, what would I consider a “bold” statement? One like this one from a bishop of a megachurch in the South would be good. You may have heard of pastors or bishops getting caught with gay prostitute drug dealers, but this is not that. This is a man who had a good family life, but he always knew he was gay. He tried every religious “cure” he knew for how he felt. He now understands that it is not a choice, or a disease. It still took a long time for him to come out, no doubt at least in part due to what he knew it would do to his career. I provided a link to the local news station, there are plenty more YouTubes, NPR stories, and of course blasts from conservative bloggers.
He also knew that he could no longer live a lie. If he believes that being gay is not anathema to being Christian, he should not keep it a secret. If he is asking his congregation to live their faith out loud, nothing hidden, he shouldn’t be hiding anything. He was already preaching inclusiveness, so he did not need to make any changes there.
I think this is going on a lot right now. Not that there are lot of gay bishops around, I mean there are a lot of spiritual leaders who are not clearly stating their personal beliefs. They leave it nebulous and let their congregations believe what they want. If you think that is not harming anyone, then you haven’t been paying attention to the news of young gay people killing themselves because they are told that being gay is disgusting. Or perhaps they are being told that God has global warming under control, or the end times are coming soon anyway. Or they are being told they have to make a choice between believing in something that is increasingly difficult to justify in a modern scientific world or risk an eternity of disconnection from their loved ones.
I think we have plenty of disconnection as it is.