Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021
Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed! Funeral services will be held at St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ and at St. Paul’s, Richmond, VA. Dates and times will be announced as soon as they are available

The Church lacks a compelling LGBTQ+ vision

 

Question & Answer

 
Q: By Ron
 
I wonder if fiddling around on the periphery on the issues of gay and lesbian rights can ever yield what the Church lacks: a compelling vision which, if received and fulfilled, would improve humanity as a whole. Christianity has no unique truth and its claims, like those of all various religions, is that it must rest upon a “Thus saith the Lord.”
 
A: By Rev. Irene Monroe
 
Dear Ron, Churches must open their front doors to LGBTQ+ worshippers, or else these churches will continue to treat us as second class.

Here are a few examples:

Last week, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s orthodoxy office, issued a formal statement instructing its priests not to offer blessings for same-sex couples. The church’s reason: God cannot bless sin. The Catholic Church still excludes the LGBTQ+ community from officially receiving any sacraments.  With COVID-19 death rates hitting the LGBTQ+ community around the world especially hard, one would hope the church could put aside its homophobia.

For decades there has been an ongoing struggle in the United Methodist Church (UMC) to adopt a policy of full inclusion of its LGBTQ parishioners and clergy and all the spiritual gifts we bring to the church.  In the hopes of avoiding a schism, the Council of Bishops had recommended the One Church Plan that would grant individual ministers and regional church bodies the decision to ordain  LGBTQs as clergy and to perform LGBTQ weddings. It was believed that such a decision on a church-by-church and regional basis would reflect the diversity as well as affirm the different churches and cultures throughout the global body of UMC.

UMC’s decision to oppose same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy is both wrong-headed and wrong-hearted.  However, as LGBTQ people, we must know that this religious intolerance and spiritual abuse are antithetical to the social gospel of Jesus Christ: that all people under God have the same sacred worth — even if the United Methodist Church doesn’t practice it. Were it not for the pandemic, a church schism would have ensued.

Pastor Franklin Graham’s anti-LGBTQ nonprofit organization, Samaritan’s Purse, operated a tent hospital in NYC’s Central Park to help with the coronavirus pandemic.  Graham said his organization wouldn’t discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community in need. A gay man says they refused him.

The Black church applauds its LGBTQ congregants in the choir pews yet excoriates us from the pulpits. It pimps our talent yet damns our souls with the theological qualifier of “love the sinner but hate the sin.” Our connections and contributions to the larger black religious cosmos are desecrated every time homophobic pronouncements go unchecked in these holy places of worship. However, our pull to gospel music is seen as a calling, a distinctive gift to the church, and an expression of queer pain and hardship

What all these churches miss  is the universal message that “love is love.” However, if these churches don’t understand anything else about LGBTQ+ Christians, it needs to understand this: Gay people love Jesus just as much as straight people. Our love should be acknowledged, our unions blessed, and our gift welcomed.

~ Rev. Irene Monroe
 
About the Author
The Reverend Monroe does a weekly Monday segment, “All Revved Up!” on NPR’s WGBH (89.7 FM). She is a weekly Friday commentator on New England Channel NEWS. Monroe is the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail, Guided Walking Tour of Beacon Hill: Boston’s Black Women Abolitionists. A Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist; her columns appear the Boston LGBTQ newspaper Baywindows, Cambridge Chronicle, and the Boston Globe.

Monroe states that her “columns are an interdisciplinary approach drawing on critical race theory, African American, queer and religious studies. As a religion columnist I try to inform the public of the role religion plays in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College’s research library on the history of women in America. Click here to visit her website.

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