For the past month I have been working on a couple other projects and have been listening to other conversations. However, dozens of people have been emailing about my “position” on the current schism debate. I thought I would take this opportunity to weigh in.
Let me be clear upfront: I am TOTALLY against “amicable” separation. The term is disingenuous, deceptive and unhelpful. This is nothing more than a thinly veiled statement of “if we don’t get what we want we will take our ball and go home.” At the very least, a call to separate is a clear statement of faith: those who wish to divide are saying that human frailty is more powerful than the Holy Spirit of God to unite, reconcile, and heal. To find disagreement over moral and ethical issues as grounds for separation is to sink to the level of the lowest common denominator in our society. Our witness and call is to provide a better way to live in the world. Our charge to be a beloved community beyond our limitations and divisions is not optional. I do not have to see eye to eye with all my brothers and sisters in order to love them as family. I don’t want my brothers and sisters to separate simply because they hold different beliefs. My baptism is greater than my own limited personal theology. I am family with all other baptized children of God whether I “like” them or not.
But then, I am not an empire builder, and have never understood a Christianity that is about keeping people out. I do not believe the Christian faith is a competitive sport. I cannot conceive of an eternal truth based in winners and losers. My vision of Christian community is an eternal commitment to the elimination of “us/them” thinking. I also am a “cast the first stone” type. I cannot pick and choose one or two issues — no matter how big — and condemn another because they disagree with my own values. That simply sets me up to be judged by others for the different ways I fail to live up to their standards. We all live together in glass houses.
So much of our current situation is based on Victorian morality that has nothing to do with our Hebrew forebears, and an abysmal misinterpretation of scripture. Both sides of the human sexuality debate will have much to answer for in the misuse of scripture as a weapon, rather than a tool. Our current decision is pretty simple: will we use our energy and resources to create something wonderful and sustainable or will we use them to cut-down and destroy? I have yet to hear how splitting the church will more effectively foster a world-transforming discipleship.
Nobody needs my opinion on this, and I am not going to change anyone’s mind. All my weighing in does is place me on a “side.” This is sad. This is tragic. Choosing sides is the opposite of healing, and yet we cannot seem to articulate our personal feelings without being pigeon-holed. My bottom line has nothing to do with who is right and who is wrong, with who is positive and who is negative, or with who is mature and who is less mature. My position is simply this: I love my family in Christ, even when we differ in key beliefs. My life would be poorer were I to lose my family. I would much rather spend my time working to find commonalities to work together on, instead of differences that can only divide. I believe this is the call to all Christians — to find their place in the One Body of Christ, to be Christ in the world — a witness to all that God is greater than anything on earth with the potential to divide us.