Wednesday, March 25, 2015

To Reject Them is to Reject Me

I am a Christian.

I am an ordained pastor.

I believe in the sufficiency and inspiration of Scripture, salvation through following Jesus Christ, and the eternal life promised to all of God's children.

By those standards, my own beliefs about God are really very orthodox by just about any reasonable standard for, I imagine, most American Christians, mainline and evangelical alike.

Until this: I also believe in equality in all rights, including marriage, for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, and transgendered people.

I was raised this way since I was a little kid.  The worship pastor in the church plant I grew up in was (is) openly gay.  His lifelong partner was a member of the church and attended frequently.  I went to a historically Presbyterian college with a strong reputation of inclusion for gay and lesbian students.

I then went to a seminary with a huge gay and lesbian demographic, many of whom came to God in spite of the church, not because of it.  Because the church would lead them to doing things like trying to exorcise their homosexuality like a demon.

These are men and women of God and of Christ I served alongside and studied alongside during my formation as a minister.  And their wholeness as believers matters a hell of a lot more to me than your complaining about potentially one day having to make them a floral arrangement or bake them a cake.

Because you have no idea what they have gone through at your hands.  Worse, I'm not even sure you care what they have gone through at your hands.

But it can be accurately and truthfully labeled as persecution.

Real persecution, mind you, not the persecution of not being able to turn away a gay couple because your religious freedom lives and dies by your ability to do that.

And Jesus is pretty clear in Matthew and in Luke about the persecuted being blessed, because your ancestors did the exact same things to the prophets who called them away from their petty greed and selfishness and back to God...and, like our gay and lesbian neighbors, got persecuted for it.

So I'll say this once, and I'll say this plainly: to reject my gay and lesbian friends will be to reject me.  If you turn them away, you turn me, the straight, married, Bible toting man you hold up as your ideal for what stock a pastor should come from, away as well.

I will not cross your threshold, I will not spend my money on your products or services, and I will do everything in my power to encourage others to do likewise.  Because if they aren't welcome, I'm not welcome.

Already, the leadership of my denomination, the Disciples of Christ, has issued an open letter to Governor Pence, urging him to veto SB 101 and notifying him that the church could consider relocating its 2017 General Assembly, which draws thousands of attendees, dozens of vendors, and fills up all of the convention center hotels, from Indianapolis.

And it is, in my sight, godly that they have done this.

Because my relationships with the extraordinary gay and lesbian men and women I have had the blessing to know in this life far exceeds in importance and value your own petty and selfish demands to have your prejudices taken seriously simply because you say they are based on Scripture.

Christianity isn't merely Scriptural, though.  It is relational.  It can be no other way.  Truth means nothing without the people to follow it.

You may think me a heretic, a blasphemer, one of those wolves in sheep's clothing who does not preach the Bible.

And that's fine.  Because, to bastardize Winston Churchill, sometime in heaven, after I am dead and buried, my beliefs about God will be made perfect in God's presence.

But you will still be the jerks who legalized discriminating against your brothers and sisters.

Enjoy the dustbin of history, my brethren.

Yours in Christ,

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