If you are a longtime reader of this blog, then you know that I’ve long believed that the Christian church in it’s many forms was on the way out. It’s death throws being sung by the disgruntled generations which cannot stomach theological ideas that are misaligned with their Jerry Falwell inspired version of the American Christian Gospel. If you don’t know what I mean by that, then you are the subject of this post. The Nashville Statement, which you can read here is a cementing of the trend toward obscurity. Perhaps, and I hope this is true, it will be replaced with a better church.
The Nashville Statement is in no way new. We’ve been watching mainline protestant denominations vote on and endorse similar statements and doctrines for ages. Somehow, this statement feels different because it crosses the borders of denominations – it’s original signers include pastors and ministers from across the board. It sends what seems to be a unified message to the world and to those who are LGBT and specifically calls out Transgender people with the notion that, “you are wrong about what you think you are, and we have all the answers.” It manages to say, to the most marginalized and endangered people in our country and our world that they don’t have a safe haven, even with Jesus.
The Nashville Statement says to the LGBT community that, while the church in all it’s denominational strife and confusion – in all that disagreement, the one thing they can agree on is you. That you are a problem.
Yet, the tone deaf church is unable to see it.
Love your enemy
A few weeks ago I sat across a table as I drank a beer and ate a bison burger with a pastor friend of mine. We first met in January of this year when I made a comment on a post his church was using as an advertisement on Facebook to announce their first service. His response to all the comments being made was to invite those people to lunch, hear their concerns about what and who the church is in their community, not so he could argue about how he’ll be different – but so he could take that feedback and implement it. Mine was…well…if you’ve read this blog you know what mine was. If you’ve ever heard me talk about the Christian Church, especially in the American South – you know what I had to say.
We’ve met a number of times since then, once I was asked to meet with him and the children’s pastor and youth pastor of the church. The goal was for them to hear what I had previously said to him. To hear my concerns and aches for their new church.
Our last meeting the pastor, his name is Drew by the way, said something that struck me harder than anything that’s been said to me in many years. He said, “Matt, you love the church more than I do – I’m pretty sure of that.”
People don’t get that too often, in fact I think he’s the first person to understand that truth since I became the me that I am now. If you don’t know that about me, you’re the reason I’m writing this.
I do love the church, but my relationship with her is complicated by my lack of faith and my convictions which prevent me from an endorsement of it’s actions in so many situations. When I see the church kicking against the goads of the people it’s been called to love, it angers and frustrates me. It makes me hate the church and hate what it stands for. When I talk about the Church and it’s job, clearly and plainly from the Bible and my words are rendered useless because of who I am, It makes me loathe the body. It makes me long for a church that loves god and loves people. For every church body that fails to do that, they’ve made an enemy of me and many others – but I, and maybe I alone, still love them and hope that they can find their way to Grace if for the first time.
Appropriate Responses to the Nashville Statement
There is a brood of vipers among you. Separate yourself from their iniquities. They speak the word grace, but do not posses it nor understand it. They are chaff among wheat.
Love the least of these among you. Love the hurting, the widows, the orphans. Love the children removed from refuge by their churches, removed from homes by their misguided families. Love them for they need to be loved rather than separated from society like a plagued people, like lepers in Gehenna.
Leave your church if your pastor signs the Nashville Statement. Leave your church if they cannot find a way to show grace and love to the LGBT community. Condemn those who condemn. Lift up those who lift up. Give your money and time to organizations and churches committed to justice, equality, equity, and to the actions associated with love. All else is a bastardization of your faith, do not believe when they tell you that they love those whom they condemn through statements. There is no love in them.
You must love where they fail. You must condemn their failure to do so. You must separate yourselves from their perversion of the gospel.
If you can’t find a church in your area that does, be that church.
The same goes for those Confederate monuments, and your love for people of color. Just…apply all this there too.
*I’m using a lot of Christianese in this post, it’s the best way I know to communicate to Christians themselves, but I hope it’s still clear what I mean when I say words like “the church” and “the body” or when I use biblical colloquialisms – for which I’ve provided scriptural links for context.