A few churches within our larger, regional governing body, Northwest Yearly Meeting, recently decided they could no longer live with the "human sexuality" portion of the NWYM faith-and-practices statement. There was much debate and discernment as to how to deal with that. Since they were now out of compliance with faith and practices, should they leave the yearly meeting? Should they be allowed to remain and continue the discussion? How will other churches handle this issue?
Abruptly, after a couple years of debate, NWYM made a decision: Churches that no longer align with the human sexuality statement have been asked to leave the meeting. Mind you, NWYM did not decide to split into two meetings - one "affirming" and one "traditional." They kicked out the ones with which they did not agree.
I've attended NFC for almost 20 years - since right after college, I think. I love it there for many reasons, the music being at the top. I also love the community and the care everyone gives each other. I also appreciate that it's on the more progressive side of the evangelical spectrum. But as an LGBTQ ally, I've been compromising my values. I've always thought of NFC as a don't-ask-don't-tell kind of place. It's not overtly against the LGBTQ community, but it's also not really for it.
For this reason, I have never sought membership at NFC. I've taken all the requisite Sunday School classes, and I'm certainly involved enough and committed enough, but I don't want my name attached to that statement.
We were asked this week to complete a survey, letting the pastoral team and the elders know where we each stand on the issue and how we wish to proceed as a congregation. Here's my statement:
I believe in the full inclusion of the LGBTQ community in my church. I've struggled with this issue for a long time, and it's the sole reason I've never pursued membership in the church I've attended for 20 years. To be candid, I feel shame that I compromise my values in this area. I'm done compromising.
I understand the desire to worship in a place welcoming to a variety of opinions on this issue (as described in the independent church proposal). However, if doing that means that LGBTQ members are not allowed full church involvement, then it's not acceptable to me.
It's my intention to finally worship in an inclusive community - as has been my heart's desire for many, many years - where people are welcomed and accepted because they have a yearning to learn about and serve Jesus, regardless of their sexual orientation. It's also my sincere desire that that community is NFC. I would love nothing more than to stay at NFC and watch it become a welcoming, accepting beacon in the evangelical world - to show the rest of the world that Christianity truly means love for all people.
So there it is - for all the world to see. I am done compromising. I'm done settling in this area of my life.
Some have very loudly opposed my beliefs. No one has yet to say anything to my face, but people whose opinions I used to value greatly have made it quite clear that they think my values are heretical, that I am misguided, that I am being tricked by the devil, and that I will regret my opinion on judgment day.
That saddens me greatly.
But here's my response: I may be dead wrong on my theology. But I have been called to live a life that affirms the Light in all people. I have been called to work for and protect and honor the vulnerable in society, those who don't have a voice, those who don't have power - and those who need Jesus as much as I do.
I affirm this statement on NFC's "what we believe" page:
All life has its origin in the creative work of God, and human life is to be regarded as a sacred gift from God. Because all persons have equal value and are created in the image of God, we must treat others with respect and dignity, regardless of human measures of merit or value.So I will do my best to welcome all people to the Kingdom of God, especially those marginalized by society. I would rather live my life valuing others than following "traditional", hate-filled religious views. And on judgment day, I will proudly stand before my God, knowing that I used my privilege and power to honor Him and care for all His children.
I'd much rather say that, than say I upheld a "traditional Christian value" that turned away his children and left them feeling unloved by my all-loving God.
Last year, progressive Christian author John Pavlovitz wrote "Things I'm doing before I go to Hell." Read it, it speaks my mind.