by Kendra Perry
By Kendra Perry
I was going to write part 4 of my Sabbath and Same-Sex Marriage column: a thoughtful exposition of marriage and sexuality in the Bible and society and the church. I actually have a draft. It’s coming along.
But every time I sit down to work on it, I’m overcome with a nearly overwhelming sense of weariness that borders on despair. I can see what will happen.
I will spend hours thinking, drafting, revising. I will post my column. Several people will blithely chirp, “Amazing! This is just what we needed to hear!” Several others will leave a drive-by scathing: “And this is the kind of chaos the world will come to in the last days!”
A few people will read the article carefully and attempt to engage in discussion. Mostly they will argue with each other. The even smaller minority that actually attempts to listen and understand and learn from each other will be pulled into conflict after conflict with those whose primary goal is to MAKE. A. POINT.
I don’t have the energy for it. I could probably write the column, but I don’t know if I could keep up with the conversation afterwards. It makes me sad, how our community of faith (which Jesus said would be known by its love) is mostly known — on the Internet, at least, and too often in real life as well — for its rabid debates.
I think about Galileo: his telescope in one hand and Scripture in the other, looking at the clear reality of Jupiter’s moons and the clear words of Scripture. I think of his Inquisition and recantation and house arrest because he insisted on making science and Scripture enemies. I wonder how his life might have been different if he and the church had walked together through the uncertainty of the reality they saw and the Scripture they thought they understood until that day.
And I think about us, standing before this issue of homosexuality: our LGBT friends, family, and neighbors on one hand, and Scripture on the other.
Reality is clear: some people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered. People don’t choose to be this way. People who grow up in the church with no discernible traumas are this way from early childhood. These people are real. If you don’t believe it, pick up the telescope and see for yourself. Listen. Read. Ask.
Scripture is also real and clear. We have thought we understood it up to this point. But the reality we now see and know calls our previous understanding into question. What then shall we do?
Shall we Inquisit? Recant? Arrest?
Shall we disfellowship? Shun? Ignore?
This is what I wish would happen: that the church (as an organization, yes, but also as YOU) would respond to every LGBT person in the world the same way I hope we would to our own son or daughter who tells us that they are gay, or that they want to change sexes. I wish we would say with the full love of Christ in our eyes and our heart and our voice: “I don’t know exactly what all this means, but I know that I love you, and you will always be my child, and we will walk through this together.”
And we will learn together as we go. None of us will escape unchanged.
But I believe that if we do this, the Spirit of God (the Paraclete, who is “called to our side”) will guide us, ultimately, into all truth (John 16:13).
So here’s an invitation to become one of the church who will Walk With each other. We don’t all have to agree. We don’t even have to fully understand what we think ourselves. But we can Walk With each other in our uncertainty.
We can ask questions of each other, of the Bible, of science and experts and anyone we like. We can listen. We can share our hearts and our experiences. We can share our doubts and our concerns. We can share what we already know, what we want to know, and what we’ve learned.
And we can claim Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians for our church family today (Ephesians 3:14-21):
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.