I do grow weary of being a divisive presence in the church.
Today, the primates of the Anglican Communion sanctioned The Episcopal Church for allowing people of the same sex to marry in the church. Setting aside that I don't expect to get married anytime soon, I still find it hard not to take this personally.
But let's be clear on something.
I'm not the divisive presence.
I'm here in the church, seeking unity as much as anyone who has heard and yearned for the idealism of "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all."
I have prayed with Jesus his prayer "that they may all be one."
Look, I'm sorry I'm gay. I'm sorry I want to assert the fully humanity of all LGBT folk. I'm sorry that this is icky for a lot of you.
But I'm not telling anyone they can't come to the table, fully who they are, in full dignity of one made in the Image of God. I'm not telling anyone they can't have a voice in any church body because they support everyone's access to the blessing of the church.
I'm not the divisive presence here, not by my own making.
It's heartbreaking because I've come in contact with a young man in an African country who relates how hard it is just to get medical advice that is particular to gay and lesbian folk. It's against the law for doctors to offer information or medical attention to someone who needed LGBT specific help. I wonder how safe it is for this person to even seek information through a Facebook group, even as I'm glad he could access that resource.
For this reason, I cannot easily say "makes no difference to me." I mean, I can---my life is not immediately impacted by this news. I and the congregation where I worship will carry on much as we have for some time.
But here's the thing---I do believe this young African man and I are connected and I can imagine how much it would mean to the LGBT folk of his and other nations to have a religious authority speak up for them. (Let's be real, I can imagine that because it wasn't too long ago that I didn't think I'd live to see it in my own nation---so there's hope for change!) I actually to believe that we share in one baptism and one Spirit.
These things matter, these divisive decisions matter because the violence, spiritual and physical, that is enacted on these LGBT folk in the shadow of this sort of decision is on the hands of the church, on the hands of these decision makers. They have authority and it matters how they exercise it.
Of course, there's so many ways the church has forced division through the centuries. Just two American examples leap to mind. I do not believe Richard Allen wanted to create the AME Church. I do not believe Troy Perry wanted to create the MCC fellowship. Those are just two American examples of the way a patriarchal imperialism has forced people, for their own spiritual well-being, to create divisions. But neither of them were a divisive presence, either!
Sometimes I look at how this is true of Christianity the world over and I wonder if this is what Jesus meant when he said, " . . . you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."
We have to do better. We have to see the expansive love of God, not just for us, but more so for those we are not like. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we're all made in the Image of God and that maybe the thing that is different in the other person is the part of the Image of God that you need to see, respect, love. The strangeness of God is real and it is in all of us. It's hard, so very difficult, but we must learn to love the difference.
At the very least can we start to have enough self awareness that when we tell someone they are not welcome here that it is us who is being divisive?
I feel myself ranting a bit, maybe less coherently than usual. These things make me angry and I don't know what other recourse I have but to spill it onto the internet.
Primates of the Anglican Communion---your actions and your reasons behind your actions matter. This will affect people under your care. Their wounds, spiritual and physical, are yours to answer for.
I pray other authorities will rise to take up your slack.