This week has been exhausting and draining. We’ve seen the worst that our denomination can do. Rev. Schaefer is facing trial because he believes his son worthy of the full blessing of being a member of the United Methodist Church. It’s not marriage that’s on trial; what’s on trial is LGBTQ full inclusion and blessing in the church. We get so caught up in one issue that we no longer see the forest for the trees.
As we move forward, we must certainly be vocal and supportive of Rev. Schaefer and the others who are facing trial. I am thankful for the support of allies who put their Christian beliefs into action. At the same time, we need to make space for and listen to the voices of LGBTQ laity and clergy.
For so long the discussion in our church has centered on the apologetics of “clobber” passages. This conversational round keeps us fighting to stake claim to our place in the church. I am ready to move beyond this. I am ready to discuss the scriptures that proclaim all to be beloved children of God. I am ready to talk about the fringe people in the scriptures. Let’s talk about the eunuchs in Esther, Ebed-Melech, the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts, and the other characters we’ve left out of our bible studies and pulpits for so long.
There have been advocates, supporters, and allies for a long time, and they will be with us for much longer. There is still a need for a more in-depth understanding of the LGBTQ people in our churches. How do we move forward in the face of all that our church faces? We can start in our home, neighborhood, city, and local church. Starting to model inclusion in our life changes those around us and shows affirmation to those who may need to see this and aren’t from other Christian spaces.
Here are a few things that we can all do now to focus and continue our work in the face of more trials and hurt. Let’s keep working.
- Redirect conversation away from sexual acts when talking about LGBTQ – focus on relationships and lives.
- Talk about the spiritual fruit of the LGBTQ people in your lives – avoid conversations about sin.
- Invite LGBTQ people to share your pulpit or speak to your church in a special meeting.
- Understand the history of inclusion in the UMC.
- Volunteer, individually or as a church, in local LGBTQ organizations.
- Think about the language you use – is it inclusive of all people?
- When you excuse children are they asked to return to their moms and dads or to their families?
- Do you default to asking people if they have an opposite gender person in their life, or do you simply ask if they have someone special in their life?
- Do you use LGBTQ or do you default to gay? Who might be left out in this way?
- Find the Biblical stories of those on the fringe.
- Get online and start reading about areas of LGBTQ where you’d like more information. Twitter is a great source for a lot of queer theology talk.
- Provide information for local LGTBQ resources.