This is it!
This is what the Church needs to be! This is it!
Those are the words that circled through my thoughts as I sat in an informational meeting on Sunday. We were talking about the vision for a gathering called Living in the Tension. These groups were started by the Marin Foundation as places to have respectful dialogue about faith and sexuality. Living in the Tension's mission is
“That non-Christian LGBTs, gay Christians, celibates, ex-gays, liberal and conservative straight Christians and straight non-Christians all willfully enter into a place of constructive tension, intentionally forming a community that peacefully and productively takes on the most divisive topics within the culture war that is faith and sexuality.”
That is quite the mission.
As I sat in the meeting and heard people’s stories, I began to dream. Not just about what a Living in the Tension group could be, but about what the Church could be.
What if the Church became a place of healthy and respectful dialogue? Not just about issues of sexuality, but about culture and politics and life?
As a society, we’ve completely lost our ability to disagree respectfully. We talk liberally about our point of view without taking the time to listen to the views of others. We say that we understand how others might believe differently, yet secretly believe we are just a little more right than everyone else. We place our identity into our own worldviews and theologies in such a way that when someone disagrees with what we think, we take it as a personal affront and defend ourselves accordingly.
What if the Church did what we could to put a stop to all this madness instead of contributing to it?
What if the Church began to model true unity? A togetherness based on love, not uniformity?
It would not be easy. It will have to start with an acknowledgement.
All of us who profess our faith in Christ need to stand up and acknowledge that there is tension. That the Bible does not tell us exactly what to do in every situation, and that figuring out how to interpret it can be difficult.
We need to admit a few things:
It is possible to believe the Bible is the authentic and authoritative Word of God but disagree on our theology.
It is possible to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to this earth, modeled a perfect life, died for our sins, and rose victorious from the grave, but disagree on our politics.
It is possible to believe that the greatest commandment is to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves, but disagree on our moral standards.
Can we admit to those tensions and know that our faith is still secure and our God is still on His throne?
I am dreaming today about that possibility.
Because in His final days on earth, this was Jesus’ prayer for us: that we would be one as He and the Father are One. Because, He prayed, through unity in the Church, the world would believe that He was sent by God and that they were loved by Him.
What if the Church made intentional steps in that direction?
Imagine egalitarians and complementarians sitting across a table from one another and listening to each other’s stories without judgment. Imagine liberals and conservatives talking about how they came to their conclusions without trying to convince the other to change his or her views. Imagine homosexuals and heterosexuals who believe differently about what ethical sexuality looks like looking each other in the eyes with respect. Imagine racial majorities and minorities who have different ideas about privilege telling each other that they are loved and valued.
In this polarized world, think of the impact that could be made by creating a sacred place of listening.
This is my prayer for the Bride of Christ.