21. Therefore the pastor doesn’t “with” love in excluding his LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
The nature of Jesus is being with us. His place is with, presence. Jesus is present in a “withness”.
Withness is active. It is intimate and full of hope. There is no grace without the comfort of intimacy.
Take the idea that we are basically sinful. And Jesus forgives our repentant souls, which frees us. How does that feel? Not intellectually, but in our hearts? Like being released from a prison? Like true and unexpected freedom? Like the weight of all the world’s anxiety is lifted off of your shoulders? Doesn’t that feel good?
This is beauty of the “light” yoke where Jesus suggests the burden is light because he has the other side; together we can bear the weight of the plow.
Together, with Jesus. That lightness, that freedom, comes with a rush of hope and love. But it comes as an antidote to a suffering. A suffering of separation and isolation.
The nature of sin is separation.
So the very thing we celebrate Jesus doing for us is that he replaces our separation with intimacy, redeems our sin and turns and puts us into relationship.
Rejecting LGBTQ from Community is Sin.
By the fundamental character of rejecting a person from a faith community, we are running counter to the restorative character of God. God’s great mission, the missio dei is to restore the world to wholeness, to create a great withness of all people in an eschatological banquet.
The mission isn’t to reject the people we don’t like.
Rejecting people is a stumbling block to restoration. So if we’re doing it, we need to reexamine the issue and our priorities.
Of course, there are times when inclusion isn’t entirely possible: like including the destroyer of community into community. It is neither hypocritical or inappropriate to discourage the destruction of an inclusive society by tolerating the intolerant.
Otherwise, we should recognize that exclusion and rejection run counter to God’s mission. Full stop.
So our engagement in the opposite of withness (rejection) is sinful. It doesn’t bring us closer to God, but puts greater separation between us. So it better be worth it.
And there is no value in rejecting our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. At all. Only pain. Only separation, isolation, and sin.
Rejecting our LGBTQ brothers and sisters from community is sin.
Embracing LGBTQ in Community is Grace
My brothers and sisters of all genders and orientations, embracing all of our LGBTQ siblings is an act of grace. It is restoration, rejection of sin, and the full embodiment of Christ’s love in community.
There is no question.
Clobber passages, including Paul’s infamous passage from Romans are used to divide and destroy the body of Christ. So Christians got this one wrong. They sure did. And many still do. But it’s time we all make it right.
But this takes more than rejecting the rejecting. It takes fully embracing and restoring the blessed community.
We embrace all our brothers and sisters as a matter of grace. We build withness with each other so that we may best embody the Christ in us. And we build the blessed community through embracing.
Lastly, we can’t mistake saying nothing as if it were saying something. Rejecting rejection isn’t sufficient. And neither is avoiding all rejection by just not talking about it, because, you know, it’s too political. Saying nothing isn’t restoring, it’s just not destroying.
Restoring the withness of Christ in our community requires embracing those brothers and sisters the church has rejected. It requires active and positive work to restore over time and with the grace and mercy all of us can muster.
It takes faith that Christ is really with us. With us when we gather. And when we seek repentance. That Christ is there, forgiving and restoring with true grace.
[This is Thesis #21 of my 31 Theses. To read them all, visit the 31 Theses introduction page.]