In corporate America, particularly Ernst and Young, there is a non-discrimination policy regarding LGBT employees that falls under the corporation slogan: Bring Your Whole Self To Work. It is an incredible supportive statement of the Corporate World towards LGBT people.
Bring your complete, whole self to work, as well as your whole and healed self.
The slogan is clear! The LGBT employee is accepted and affirmed in their corporate structure, while society often keeps them fragmented by injustice and discrimination. It is discouraging when it is a church that fosters prejudice and injustice.
I asked one of the executives at E&Y what they thought of the resistance of the church towards full inclusiveness of LGBT people, and the person simply raised their cupped hand to their mouth and yawned, inferring that the church is lagging behind in their support of gays and lesbians and the world has become bored with its position.
Today, on national TV, several people of the LGBT community, who have been pioneers in American society, were awarded, by the Government, the Medal of Freedom for their life’s gift and achievements as citizens of America.
Simultaneously, the media has been covering the sad and sorry trial and conviction of Rev. Frank Schaefer, of The United Methodist Church, for lovingly, compassionately and gracefully officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage. The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline finds homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teachings” and does not support clergy officiating at same sex unions.
When will the United Methodists join the many churches and denominations who are all-embacing, like the More Light congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA)?
When will we truly become people of grace, love and inclusiveness?
I heard a sermon delivered by the Bishop of Fiji when I attended the Mission to the 80’s program in the South Pacific. The title of that sermon was, “We Need to Free Christ from The Church.” I will never forget the provocative message. Thirty-three years later, the sermon remains poignant and relevant in the context of prejudice and injustice that still undermines the outstretched, compassionate arms of Christ that seek to take all people in.
I affirm The Rev. Frank Schaefer’s call to ministry, his passion, and zeal as a shepherd of love. His vision, love, and heart know no bounds, and his witness to the Gospel will not permit the doorways or thresholds of his church, or his heart, to be stumbling blocks to any child of God seeking wholeness and life.
I suspect there are many Christians who still have yet to sing with fervor and conviction the hymns that teach us to espouse the grace of Christ. Our actions and prejudices turn our hymns into empty words, yet we will stand and sing “Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound” and claim it as one of our favorite hymns.
We sing these hymns with zeal and conviction, yet our actions negate the voices we raise in song and deny our words as truth.
I would suggest that Rev. Schaefer’s congregation read, and the Annual Conference struggle with, the text of the hymn “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy,” by Frederick W. Faber:
It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
‘Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.
But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.
The same person who brought the charges against Rev. Schaefer may very well sing this hymn with fervor from the pew in the congregation while keeping a part of the congregation at arms length and outside the embrace of grace.
God will not own that strictness.
Photo via flickr user lungstruck