Can the Church Accept Gay Marriage? P13: Is this the hill we want to die on?

*note, this piece is part of an ongoing series. The conversation in this blog builds directly upon the conversation prior. If you’re just joining this korero, I would encourage you to start with part one, which you can find here

As we round out, I want us to consider whether this is really the hill we want to die on?

The question of LGBTQ inclusion within the community of God is a question which has dominated the minds and imaginations of the Christian Community, sucking energy and resources from the community that could arguably be spent on more productive and life-giving endeavours. How important is it that we defend and uphold the traditional perspective, is this the issue for Christian leaders to plant their flag upon?

There is so much injustice that is occurring in this world, so much that is flawed, and messed up, so much the Church could be involved in. The inequality and injustice which our own communities uphold and participate in are heart rending. We who name ourselves followers of the Way, also participate uncritically in the exploitation of people and planet through our worship at the great altar of consumerism and individualism. We who name ourselves servants of the Servant, have built communities where the same divisions of rich and poor, haves and have not’s, exist amongst us. We who name ourselves children of the Divine, have left unaddressed the manner which our own faith has contributed to the colonization of this nation, we have ignored the whitewashing of our faith, and continue to uphold racial injustice within our society, and worse, within our very own communities.

There is a lot of work to be done.

A lot that we could put our energy and attention to.

A lot that the scriptures are far clearer on, that we leave ignored and left unaddressed.

This conversation is important, and I’ve devoted time and energy to it because so many of our whanau are still suffering due the way our faith is treating them. But, I wonder constantly what would happen if the Christian community spent less time arguing over who is in and who is out, and instead doubled down on the Way of Love which Jesus outlined for us? What if our whole focus and reason for being was to see God’s Kingdom come? What if we were known for our Love for one another, rather than our opposition to Gay marriage? What if our Christian communities were Good News to the poor, oppressed and marginalized in our communities? What if they were beacons of Hope, and champions for Justice, embracing and living out the dominant themes of Liberation and Justice that fill our Scriptures?

What if we actually believed the Kingdom could come on earth as it is in Heaven? And what if we actually lived in such a way that it began to become reality?

It is a journey, and we’ll keep walking it, but it is something for us to consider.

How important is it that we win on this issue? And when it’s all said and done, is the cost of victory, worth the price we are paying?

In closing

If I can be a bit honest here, I haven’t enjoyed writing this series. I don’t enjoy putting my queer brothers and sisters under the microscope, opening up the debate on whether we can and should accept them in our faith communities. But, I engage in this korero because I dream of a day where these conversations are not needed any more. A day where our rainbow whanau are accepted, and loved, and safe within the Christian community. I engage in this conversation because I know that liberation will only be achieved through Love, and that in order to Love, I must not close my heart to those I disagree with theologically. Love is the Way, and if I am to hold to it, I must keep my feet on the path, I must not give up on loving my theologically conservative neighbour.

This will be the last blog I write in this series for a little while. Over the next year I will be working on a couple of other projects which I hope to make some progress on. This series has been less than perfect, and where it has been lacking, or where I haven’t gotten it quite right, I ask for grace. I hope to return to it to clean it up, and fill some of the gaps I know I have left. But, as I close I want to thank our queer whanau.

Thank you for bearing with us in Love. Thank you for not abandoning us, for having the courage to hold on to this faith Tradition, despite how people within it have treated you. Despite what the dominate narrative within our tradition might tell you, you are Loved, and your presence within our community matters. On a personal level, thank you to those who courageously continue to share their story, who have chosen to continue to love and serve their church communities in spite of the persecution they have received, who continue to show up, refusing to allow others to define their value in the eyes of the Divine, who hold to the truth of the Gospel regardless of how they have been beaten and bruised by those who would distort its message. I know that without your existence I would not truly know the Love of God. I weep with you for the suffering you had to experience for the sake of teaching us of the Divine’s Love. I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

A.J. Hendry

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