I recall believing that Jesus loved all people, but that he would send some of those people (that he loved) to hell.
Perhaps most guaranteed for hell were people belonging to the LGBTQ community.
At that time in my life I also believed that scientists were wrong about global warming, that the earth was 6 thousand years old, and that George Bush was really a genuine good guy.
I have changed.
When you enter into the world something happens that is altering, you encounter other people.
People that have experienced life in ways different than you have. People who have had a separate existence. People who believe the world works differently than how you believe it works.
The most shocking discovery that came about from my “entering into the world” was realizing that none of these people that belonged to this different way of living (we can call it the other) wanted to change me.
These “others” weren’t interested in molding me into something I was not. They simply held me as I was, and offered to listen to the thoughts of my mind and the emotions of my heart.
This was something I had never experienced in Christianity. Plenty of times Christians listened to what I was thinking or feeling, but always with the caveat of moving from where I was to some place “better,” a place where I wouldn’t,
That can sound nice on the surface.
In experience, it is painful and often times traumatizing.
Nobody is capable of fixing another human. We are not surgeons of the soul, we are a support structure for the weary.
And my friends, many of us are weary.
The problem with trying to get people to go somewhere different, is you have to be sure that the different place is better than the current place.
If you want progress, movement, or growth, there has to be a benefit.
No one will move from A to B, if B is not better than A.
And for Christianity, B is often far worse A.
I was reminded of that when I saw that a group of Christian leaders signed a document denying that LGBTQ people, or people that affirm them, are Christians.
My initial reaction was a familiar sense of disgust. Too often I have been ashamed of what people do In the name of god.
But as I have thought about it further, I have found a peace about this antiquated and hateful document.
This document offers us a separation from those that will love and those that will not.
Instead of wondering what faith communities close their doors to entire people groups, we can look at a document where the leaders of those faith communities signed.
In signing they signed away there intent to be like Jesus.
Much like the Pharisees looked into the face of Jesus, a person different than themselves, and thought it best to be rid of him
The Nashville document signers and supporters have looked into the face of humans different than themselves, and thought it best to be rid of them.
No longer do we have to wonder if those people will treat us as Jesus would. They signed a document telling us they wouldn’t.
Jesus said you would see him in the least of these. The ones the church forgot, or decided to reject, that is where you will find Jesus. Not in a document condemning people of differing sexual orientations.
I’m grateful that there’s no more pretending from the Nashville group. They have chosen a side, they have turned there eyes from love, and focused then on self righteousness.
They have rejected people for doctrine.
They have replaced love with judgment.
There is no piece of paper more important than the lives of people.
As the Pharisees chose self righteousness they killed Jesus.
As the american evangelical community (or majority of it) has chosen self righteousness they have killed there ability to be like Jesus.
They are much closer to the ones that pounded spikes into flesh, than the ones that washed the wounds of the broken body.
No one is to far gone to be brought into the community of love. I hope that all the Nashville document people, signers and supporters alike, will find the community of love and otherness.
That the unfamiliar sacrificial love of Jesus will no longer be foreign to them.
That they will no longer push away people who are different, but embrace them.
In embracing people who seem different then yourself you will be confronted with a startling reality.
They embrace you back.
“We don’t believe LGBTQ folks need our approval or affirmation–they are affirmed first and foremost by God. This statement acts as a concreted record of solidarity.” The liturgists.