In lieu of one bold sermon including one brave female professor, and in a coliseum filled with generations of Christians both old and new, one powerful sentence was announced across the podium during the finale of a Church of Christ conference – the church needs and should reconsider our stance on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender question.
While the faces of several turned sour and ears of hundreds became deaf with disbelief, Dr. Jeanene Reese, associate professor of Bible, mission and ministry and associate chair of the department, spoke out after months of prayer, tears and ultimately acceptance that perhaps the love for one another is more vital, more important and more difficult to comprehend when it comes to people who simply have decided to love someone of the same sex. That the very people who have been marginalized, opposed, exploited and undermined are rejected by the church. Not only rejected in the sense of not accepting them into a congregation, but also disregarded by simply remaining silent.
Members of the LGBT are not the problem – it is the deafening silence the church has toward this community that is the problem. Specifically, it is the lack of action the church is taking. We have collectively decided to remain oblivious in the face of our society. Where do we expect our neighbors to run to because it’s obvious they cannot run to the house of the Lord where the men and women sit in silence as homosexuality bangs on its doors.
The church is afraid. Afraid of seeming too radical, becoming too liberal, looking too oppressive or even too dumbfounded because we don’t know when where we stand. We close our eyes and ears as if the LGBT issue, question or idea – whatever politically correct phrase one may want to use – will disappear and subside. The reality is that the community the church is so afraid to accept is actually growing.
In the 2010 Census, over 10.7 million U.S. residents identified as gay. Does one honestly believe the number of homosexuals has subsided today? The church is stuck in time. A time where people were afraid of coming out because of the persecution from all aspects of life including their religious affiliations. Just as Reese mentioned once in class, how can we live throughout our lives, give our accounts to the Lord and still believe we are in the right even when we reject those who are not like us? How is the rejection of homosexuals any different than rejecting someone of a different skin color, nationality, political party or religion?
Leviticus 20:22 repeats the very Bible-thumping verse every homophobic (and radical Christian) uses to protect themselves from the idea of accepting homosexuals. “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”
While this verse is just as valid as every other sentence or commandment in the scripture, let us look at what the greatest commandment of all is – to love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. How is the church fulfilling this commandment? The picking and choosing of this very phrase is sorrowful and those who follow this ideology should be ashamed.
My question to the church is who are you to not accept your neighbor regardless of his or her sexual preference? Why is the sexual preference of one community more debated and censored than murder or any other sin? How can we even consider the possibility of being like Christ if we are afraid to even consider the notion of accepting gays into our pews. The truth is simple: we are not fulling the will of the Lord.
If the church considers sex to be the boundary between acceptance and rejection, then I must say I am frustrated. I am frustrated that the very church Christ came down to save rejects those who prefer a man over a woman. I am frustrated on how ignorant and blind the church is pretending to be when in reality, the problem is staring at them right in the mirror. I am frustrated that my own peers are remaining silent or are shunned by their elders because of where they stand on the issue.
And yet, I challenge the church to take a stand and open their arms despite their own sentiments. I challenge the church to be bold. I challenge the church to wake up. Get up. Say something!
Just as Martin Luther nailed the theses, Dr. Reese banged on the doors of the church and now we wait for the sound of the cries and pleads of the oppressed to reach our ears. The church must arise. The church must accept homosexuals and reconsider the fact that our first and most important commandment of all is to love.
How can we sit in a hypocritical church that ignores the marginalized? How can you sit in silence when you hear the knocks on the door; perhaps even knocks on your door.