I don’t think I fit in this church. Should I stay or should I go?
5 September 2022 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
I’m a pro-choice, pro-woman’s rights, LGBTQI advocate who loves the Lord and the Sabbath. Is there a place for me in this church, or am I a square peg trying to fit in a round hole?
Signed, Square peg
This is not a question Aunt Sevvy can answer for you. Aunty can only discuss with you the choices, and their consequences.
One answer—the one you will often hear from sympathetic church people—is that you should stay in the church and try to improve it. There are people who have the stamina to fight for their church, to challenge it, to demand it do better.
But there are others who have chosen to leave to find their spiritual nourishment elsewhere—and that’s OK too.
There are two questions you can ask yourself that might help clarify your choice.
- Is staying in the church good or bad for my spiritual walk with God, and for my mental well being?
- Do I believe that my voice can make a difference inside the church, that my influence can eventually move the church toward a more inclusive and loving stance?
If you stay, you might have an influence in your immediate sphere. Churches big and small desperately need people like you to push them toward the kind of radical love and inclusiveness Jesus preached and modeled. By staying, you could make a difference in a lot of people’s lives. You can comfort those who mourn, encourage those who are discouraged, help those who are struggling with needs of every kind. Aunty knows of a family with a trans child who someone like you was able gently to advocate for with their church family.
But let’s be honest: there are congregations out there (surely not all of them) that are toxic. Sometimes, when you simply can’t find the strength to help others as you’d like to, you must act to protect your personal well-being. In such cases perhaps it is better to experience the freedom to worship God and love radically in a gentler, kinder place, and that may mean outside your local Adventist church.
Your question has been asked by many. Neither answer is wrong: contrary to what you may have been told, you are not saved by the church you belong to.
Aunty adds one more important thing: don’t blame a lovely, warm, accepting local church (if that’s what you have) for the decisions and attitudes of the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the final analysis, church is local.
This is a choice only you and God can make. Either way, Aunty wishes you good spiritual and mental health.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.