I maintain there is a flaw in our system. General Conference is trying to dictate human worth and dignity through legislative action. We are voting on who deserves and who does not. We are Robert’s Ruling the value of a human life and the love of God. Shame on us. We have turned engagement in Christian community into a political process. We are using our Discipline and our Bible as the building materials to create walls of separation. We are saying to one another “we want to have nothing to do with you.”
Does a majority opinion or ruling make something right or true? Most of the greatest atrocities in history were accepted by the majority. We sometimes vote a politician into office that subsequently does more damage than good (and then, inconceivably, we reelect them!), and creates more harm than help. When we frame our lives in “either/or” or “winners/losers” structures, we limit the possibilities for our life together.
What do we gain by drawing a line dividing who is “in” and who is “out”? One of my favorite Jewish aphorisms is “when faced with two options, choose the third.”. In planning work, I use a “star of David” process. When faced with an important decision, we come up with a distinct option for each of the six points of the star. Breaking the hegemony of binary thinking is essential for our future. As we move from psycho-social adolescence toward spiritual maturity, we move from concrete/simplistic thinking to abstract/complex thinking. We must come to the level of critical thinking where we can hold more than two perspectives in our heads at the same time. Merely deciding something is “good/bad,” “right/wrong”, “acceptable/unacceptable” holds us captive to a “gospel” of bondage. Committing ourselves to a worldview where someone has to be wrong is irrational. Or, to take the biblical perspective on this, let’s just admit and confess that we are all wrong, then begin working together for something better.
Picking one (or two) “issues” to be make-or-break, line-in-the-sand determinants of who belongs and who doesn’t is simplistic thinking. Instead of thinking in terms of wrong and right, what might change if we thought in terms of wrong and not wrong. This would push us to say, I may be wrong, but I am not completely wrong. I may be right, but I am not completely right. God may have the wisdom to deal in absolutes; but we do not.
A majority opinion is not necessarily right — it reflects a rightness for some, but not for all. To deal with only one aspect of a person, even an essential and fundamental aspect, does violence to the whole person. Labeling does this to people. Labeling is a way we try to make the complex simple. Labeling is a way we draw our lines to include us, but to reject them. It is a fool’s errand that leads us nowhere.
We need pathways that take us beyond “us/them” thinking to a realm of “all of us together.”. In this “all of us together” place, we will still have minorities and majorities, but we will no longer have winners and losers, because unless the majority and minority remain in covenant relationship together, we are all losers. God has given us the gift of one another. Let us learn to love the gift, regardless of right and wrong, good and bad, superior and inferior. Let us be the children of God, together, making the church and the world a better place.