Reconciliation: black & white, gays & the church

There were people who believed that once the bigots die off, then a more tolerant, more enlightened next generation would take over.

More questions from Arthur:

Do you personally chafe at the name “Liberal Christianity”, or do you see the name as a necessary counter-balance to the assumption that all Christians (Protestants in particular) are conservatives?

Interesting that after you asked the question, someone linked to Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition — Not a Liberal Agenda. The person who posted wrote: “Many Christians are wary of participating in social justice because of a deep-rooted fear of being labeled ‘liberal,’ ‘progressive,’ or ‘secular.'”

I replied: “I am a Christian, and I have ZERO fear of being labeled liberal, though I prefer progressive.” Yes, we need SOME designation to counter the narrative. You KNOW I’ve spent a lot of space in this blog both claiming my faith and saying, essentially, I’m not “like them,” so I’d rather make a positive assertion, rather than be anti a negative one.

I happen to believe actual Bible reading is likely to turn one into a liberal, unless you cherry pick like the woman upbraided by President Bartlett on The West Wing.

Given how awful Christians—conservatives in particular, but even mainline Protestant churches—have treated LGBT people in the past (and fundamentalists still do), how do you think reconciliation could be achieved? Could that be a model for reconciling other segments of society that are divided because of past antipathy?

The churches that are accepting just DO it, not without a great deal of deliberation, mind you, because that’s the Presby way. The Presbyterian Church USA has a More Light designation, which I happen to think is a terrible name, because almost no one outside the denomination gets the reference. But it involves providing an opportunity for full participation, from having LGBTQ pastors and lay leaders, to same-gender marriage, conversation in adult education and yes, participation in the gay rights parade, which, as I’ve noted in the past, is much more important now than ever, given the backlash. People will make mistakes in the process, but they need a safe space to do that.

The Daughter is not confused by her church friend who has two moms, e.g. A lot of the membership in my congregation is LGBTQ and the leadership of elders and deacons reflects that.

The United Methodist Church, of which I am a former member, has ducked the issue for now, the last major Protestant denomination to do so, I think, fearing a schism. But the schism will happen whether they vote yea or nay in 2020.

Let me throw in a question from Reader Wil here:

How do we have to deal with racists? Whenever I want to tell about people who are discriminated against, there is always someone who denies it.

Oy, that IS a tough nut to crack. Lots of people seem to think that racism is over, when I see no evidence of that being true, in the United States at least. I know I was more hopeful eight years ago than now. In the US, even the systems that had protected voting rights based on race – Congress and the courts – have let us down.

One of the great things I’ve seen, though, since Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement, is the sheer number of WHITE people who seem to “get” it, that mass incarceration hurts not just the black community but all of us. It has always been thus, the need for white allies (or straight allies or male allies).

There were people who believed that once the bigots die off, a more tolerant, more enlightened next generation would take over. That may still be the case, but it’s going to take longer than I would like. Race, and specifically black/white in America, has a long historic framework. Just as you think you’ve torn it down here (Confederate flag moved from the SC capitol), it rises up there (the racist, often pro-Agent Orange tirades, post-election.)

I’ll say this: it’s heartening when white people talk about white privilege, because it says that the problem of racism is NOT a black problem, it’s everyone’s problem. After the nine people were killed in a Charleston, SC church, the congregations of a couple of churches in that city, one black, one white, but with a common history, started meeting together, and it created greater understanding. THAT’S reconciliation, and we need more of that.

But it’ll be a slow go. Especially when courses designed to address the issue are fought.

I know it’s not much, but we have to keep on keeping on, embracing the “other,” as often as we can. I’m impressed how, in New Zealand, people of every ethnicity has adopted some Maori terms. I can’t imagine a lot of Americans people using some native American culture – “talk American!” – other than to denigrate it, but maybe I’m too cynical.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “Reconciliation: black & white, gays & the church”

  1. In America, white people are the only ones who don’t have to deal with race as an issue every day.

  2. My brother proposed one time that he and I write a book on LGBT people and the church, from his perspective as a minister and mine as an LGBT former church member. We never pursued it further than that, but I think those are the kinds of stories we need to hear and tell.

    When I was still active in church (Southern Baptist) in a lot of ways I felt like,at best, some kind of token and, at worst, some kind of trained monkey. “This is Eddie. He’s our gay Christian.”

    It took a long time for me to see how dysfunctional the relationship I had with the church was. It was considered to be a fairly liberal church, and it was in a lot of ways, except for the LGBT issue.

    The pastor actually said that he wasn’t willing to “help [gays] move to front of the bus” but that he was willing to “turn on the A/C back there” for us. Another time, they actually planned to have a panel discussion on gays and the church, but didn’t think it would be “appropriate” for me to be part of the panel. They eventually relented, after I stressed the importance of talking to LGBT people, instead of about them.

    I finally left after taking part in an ordination panel for a woman in my Sunday School class. I had to read a copy of her testimony. In it she referred to herself as a “daughter of the Southern Baptist Convention” who had many doors closed to her as a female, but she was determined to be a transformative member of the church.

    I realized that I was a son of that same convention, born, baptized, and raised and that I had made myself bruised and bloody running into those closed doors and I was tired of it. So, I left.

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