Faith based communities have, historically, ended up on the wrong side of history on quite a few major changes, from a heliocentric view of the universe to slavery, women’s rights, interracial marriage and civil rights, and the list goes on.
Religious communities didn’t simply stand by and watch women, slaves, and the rest as they were maltreated by society. They actively participated in trying to keep their views subordinate and their status lower. And they used their long-held religious beliefs to support their claims, despite outside efforts to overturn them.
This is not something we are proud of.
Or at least, it is not something I am proud of.
It shows the value of the core beliefs of the Church that She can say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong about this, but I’m still right about Jesus and his love, even if I don’t always understand it or display it well,” and people still believe her.
It shows humility and willingness to change in Her history. It shows that the most integral part of Her is not defined or lessened by these controversies, but humbly able to admit fault and turn, again, to Christ.
Today, the Southern Baptists are meeting here in Nashville to talk about LGBT people, marriage, and our Church. I’m not there, and I’ve only watched a smattering of the livestream and followed the hashtag on twitter (#ERLC2014). From what I’ve heard, there have been some important conversations happening, though often without the perspectives of those they are talking about.
From the stage, they have renounced ex-gay ministries and admitted that sexual orientation exists. They have talked about how to love gay neighbors and encouraged the church’s involvement in ending LGBT youth homelessness and violence against LGBT people both here and abroad. These are important and in some cases major shifts in the way the SBC has historically talked about homosexuality.
And yet there is still more conversation to be had when everyone agrees that the Church will be on the wrong side of history on this issue, but the overwhelming sentiment is that that is a good thing.
“I am far less afraid of being on the wrong side of history than of being on the wrong side of a holy God,” one presenter said this morning. Her fears are placed well, but let us consider our history and our future and ask ourselves the question, “Could the wrong side of history also be the wrong side of the Holy God?”
It seems the Church has come to believe that the answer to that question is “Yes” on the issue of slavery, women’s rights (generally) and racial equality.
Perhaps someday She will believe that affirming LGBT members belongs on that list as well.
In the meantime, we pray for peace, unity, and love to define our interactions within the Body and the world.
Photo by Ricardo Wang, via flickr.