Through the suggestion of a friend, I ran onto a very engaging podcast as of late on the LGBTQ issue that I’d highly recommend you take the time to listen to. “The Liturgists” are a collection of emergent church minds that run with likes of Donald Miller and Rob Bell. Thoughtful, seasoned, researched, personable and reasonable from what I’ve read and have listen to on their site I find their theology is evenly balanced with their humanity.
From the get-go they make clear that they were tentative to engage LGBTQ topics as a podcast as they have diverse opinions on the matter, a caveat I found very refreshing. They chose to go for a very personable tact in part, letting those who self identify simply tell their story of faith and sexuality.
The interviews and conversations are engaging. Tabitha clearly is a lovely person whom I’d be delighted to see at my church, I felt educated about the science of it all and the thoughtful dialogue between science Mike and Preston Sprinkle I found enlightening. Most impressive was J.J. Peterson who comes across with humility as a man that has simply been doing the work God has put in front of him, and who as of late has been coming to terms with his sexuality. Peterson’s center is in his relationship with Christ, and he comes across as sensitive and insightful. In contrast Matthew Vines seems like not the best fit for the dialogue as he appears myopic and naïve. Often using “you” and “we” statements when what he really means “I,” from the get-go Vines negates others stories and writings on the matter which I assume he would not want others to do regarding a certain book he has written? Vines at one-point states emphatically, “sexuality is the linchpin to how you bond and connect with other people.” Something granted I’d expect to hear from a man in his early twenties, but as a lifetime celibate man in his forties I’d beg to differ.
The Liturgists also have a very engaging conversation with Stan Mitchel and Mellissa Green from Grace Point church in Nashville, a now (as of January 11, 2015) evangelical and inclusive church. Clearly these are pastors wrestling with trying to do the “right thing,” and they come across with sincerity and kind hearts. Mitchel remarks that they have lost the majority of their 2,200 congregants. Was the loss of those members due more to church governance than to homosexuality? From what I know some members felt Mitchel simply made the decision for the congregation and did not let the body of believers decide as a whole. Did members feel unheard and disregarded and left not so much due to the embrace of homosexuality, but because of the strong-arm tactics of the leadership? Both?
Grace Point’s story makes me think of a couple in their later forties I know who were active in an Episcopal church some years back, but left never to return. They are liberal in their stance regarding LGBTQ issues, but they related to me how years back they were appalled at how the individuals in their church (largely older members) were treated when the church became inclusive. Even though the couple agreed with the churches stance they said the treatment and disregard of these long standing members disgusted them so much so they never want to be a part of a church body again.
These are difficult waters, tender matters indeed when inclusion can mean exclusion. How do we make room at the table? What does love embodied really look like, practically in the here and now? I know I’m still working on it.
Give this a listen to this podcast, I think the Liturgists are trying to figure this this too: