Are we really going to go through this again?
Following the e-mail I sent to many in my congregation last week, I was confronted by another member in church. She was distressed that I had sent such an angry and hateful e-mail to "half of the congregation!" I calmly spoke with her, listening to the pain and fear in her voice as she described the last time our congregation discussed queer issues. A former pastor was asked to resign after performing a same-sex union without permission from the congregation (this was about 10+ years ago). This caused a sharp divide in the church, and from what I can tell, the consensus was to simply avoid the conversation. Tearfully, this member asked me, "Do we really have to go through this again?"
I'd like to make a disclaimer: this woman has no problem being welcoming of queer members and believes herself to be a very welcoming person in general - she just doesn't want to talk about it. She also apologized for the pain I have suffered as a queer Christian.
I can certainly understand this woman's desire to ignore a painful topic, but does that ever work? Sometimes, a time of respite is important, but it doesn't fix the issue. This week, I have taken a slight break from Facebook and the news - I just couldn't handle it. But I know that when I log back in, the horrible headlines will still be there, and Donald Trump will still be President Elect. Ignoring the issue won't change it. Ignoring bills won't make them go away. Ignoring health problems won't make them disappear.
I'm reminded of the story of Jesus getting angry in the temple in Matthew 21: 12 - 15.
12 Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a den of robbers." 14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they became angry...
It's interesting how how often we've heard that we need to "come together." In fact, that's exactly what I heard in my church last week. But that's not what Jesus did here. He had more of a "get on board or get out of my way" approach. Perhaps now is the time for anger; the time for action; the time for more than prayer. Jesus' anger opened the door for him to heal the blind and lame and preach to the children. What doors will our anger open?
So...are we really going to go through this again? Yes. Until the kingdom comes, we have to keep fighting injustice.
***Update: It has come to my attention that the former pastor mentioned in this post did get approval from the Session (the church's governing body) prior to performing a same-sex union. He was not asked to resign, and only two couples left the church over the issue.
However, the information I originally posted came from numerous people within the congregation, including people who were members at the time. Regardless of what actually happened, the impression remains. Clearly, this was an issue for many at the time, and it continues to be a point of fear for many still there.