This past week many fellow Presbyterians gathered in Minneapolis to decide how to move forward after the Presbyterian Church (USA) opened the door for sexually active homosexuals to be ordained. I know that this group of my fellow Presbyterians are distressed. I understand that they believe that this move is just a symptom of a broken church. I know many agree with them who didn’t travel to Minnesota. Their view can be summed up in the comment that our denomination is “deathly ill.”
While I know this is a major change in church ordination policy, I do not see this as a reason to permanently distance ourselves from anyone. I know many of my brothers and sisters feel in their gut that homosexuality is wrong. But Jesus didn’t put distance between himself and those he thought were off course. Instead, he felt drawn to them. And I also know we have many brothers and sisters who feel in their gut that Christ calls us to be more open and loving than we have been. But is being open and inclusive our only call? Whatever the answers, in the end, I find it very hard to wrap my mind around the idea that what Jesus wants us to do in response to the event and our differences is to permanently separate ourselves from one another, even when both parties are trying to act on their beliefs.
It is worth noting that we have not seen a major rush of homosexual ordinations in the PC(USA) with the change of policy. I suspect that for people who are homosexual, even with the change in polity, they don’t view the PC(USA) as exactly welcoming ground when large portions of our denomination seem ready to split over the change.
My question to my brothers and sisters in Minneapolis is whether, minus disaffected PC (USA) Presbyterians who have joined them, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church or the Presbyterian Church in America has seen substantial growth anytime recently. They both outrightly ban homosexual ordination. By your standards, are they healthy where we are deathly ill? They are good folks, sincere believers, who work hard for the Lord. But are they really substantially different from us in the eyes of God?
What the church needs today is a movement to bring Christians together. We have so many church buildings and Christian denominations where Christians gather worship and work but if they joined together, they (we) could do so much more.
I believe that change is coming, big changes, in Protestantism in the next fifty years. But the changes that will make a positive difference will be forces which will draw us together rather than driving us further apart. In the end, if any brother or sister can’t in good conscience stay a part of the PC(USA), my thought is to wish them the best and encourage them to find another branch of Christ’s church where they can be a part and be at peace. But, in the end, leaving will do nothing to grow Christ’s Church to share the love of God, or to build understanding with those who have different beliefs than we do. After all, leaving for a different (or building a new) denomination is like moving into a different room in (or adding a room in) the same house. Do we think really Christ sees all these denominations the way we do? We might see ourselves different from Christians in other denominations but Christ only has one Church in the end.
As for me, I am waiting for a movement headed in the exact opposite direction of this fellowship. Anytime I see fellow Christians wanting to unite more, work together more, and share God’s love more, I will be there. I hope to see liberals, moderates, and conservatives working together rather than feuding or separating. We may never agree on every jot and tittle of theology but we can do so much good together than apart. I have seen it already and experienced it in the military, in Christian charities, and in ecumenical missions and worship. That, and much more, my friends is a future worth gathering for. It is a quest well worth taking.
What do you think?
Until next time,