Dancing with ourselves?

March 10, 2012

It’s been a few months since the Presbyterian Church (USA)
overturned its ban against those who are in same-gender relationships to serve
as deacons, elders, and ministers in our church. Now, there are a lot of things
we are slogging through as a denomination. How many churches will leave? How
can we ordain LGBTQ men and women, but not bless a same-gender marriage?

It is a time of transition for progressives, especially for
those of us who have been working, hoping and praying for the moment when gays
and lesbians can serve openly. With the exodus of conservative congregations
along with the generational shift (overwhelmingly, people in younger
generations do not see same-gender relationships as a problem), we will
probably not be going back.

I do not, in any way, want to minimize the struggle that
many of us have been in to make sure that we have LGBTQ leaders in our church.
But at this important time, I do hope that we can turn our focus outward.

Our progressive voice has been startling absent in the last weeks. I’m saddened at how the debate around contraception has been
framed as religion vs. women. When we see the panel of gathered experts, the
men of religion, many don’t even know the difference between contraception and
abortion. My heart aches. What about all of the women of faith who care about
both? What about the men who do not want rights taken away from women? Why
aren’t progressive churches all over this issue?

Is it because we have spent to much time dancing with ourselves? I worry that in the last decade, progressives spent overwhelming resources to try and influence certain issues within the church,
while we have lost our voice outside of the church.

Do we spend more time, in closed rooms trying to articulate to
other church professionals why we are right, than we have with speaking to the
media and articulating to the larger world why we believe in the inclusive love of
God?

Do we spend money to try to influence our national denominational
assemblies, while we ignore the public square?

Do we spend more time worrying about churches leaving the
denomination than we do thinking about how we will plant new ones?

Do we spend our influence teaching one another how to listen to
each other and how to make peace within our bodies, while we ignore the
protests and longings of a new generation?  

Can we begin to move our focus outward now? Can we speak against the injustices toward women? Can we seek justice in our immigration legislation? Can we think creatively about poverty and homelessness? I know many people have been doing this all along... but can we have a renewed focus?