What affects one climate affects the entire climate, and what affects one part of the Body of Christ affects the whole Body.
From Climate Deniers…
Rev. Dr. Mark Y.A. Davies is the Dean of the Arts and Sciences School at my alma mater Oklahoma City University. His blog “One World House” is a powerhouse of rhetoric about climate change and equality. Recently, Davies noted the increasing temperatures across the globe and wrote:
With evidence like this, one would think that we would be experiencing a sense of unmatched urgency to stabilize the climate through the most massive shift in energy use and energy production seen in the history of humankind for the sake of all generations of humans and all life to come.
Instead, we have witnessed a systematic and well-funded digging in of the heels of the fossil fuel industry led oligarchy who still have trillions of dollars to make on the exploitation of fossil fuels at the expense of future generations.
In the face of overwhelming evidence from scientists across the globe in multiple disciplines, it would seem like “denial” is too small a word. Davies has a stronger word in fact:
We have moved beyond the point of climate change denial to a climate of betrayal of future generations for the sake of current comfort and greed…Much like the human actions of the past that have led to the destruction of so many human lives, we cannot use the excuse that “we did not know.” We know, and we have chosen a climate of betrayal of the future…
Our generation is pulling the trigger on the climate change gun while billions of persons of current and future generations have their hands up pleading for us not to shoot.
Denial is not just saying “no” to the way how life is now. It is a robbing of future generations of something that they may not be able to stop, but we can. We haven’t reached all the tipping points, we can stop the cascading effects, and we have the scientific know-how to drop our levels of CO2.
But we are choosing not to.
And instead of denying something we are suspicious of, entire nations and industries are willfully betraying future generations for short-term gain.
…To Church Betrayers
To me, Davies’ linkage of denial and betrayal in the climate change debate is a parallel to the debate over the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church.
In many ways, denominations are seeing the existence of the gifts of the Spirit on LGBT preachers and pastors, as well as the existence of love and accountability in same-gender relationships. Stories of men together for decades waiting to get married. Stories of LGBT clergy who have served the Church faithfully for decades. The evidence is there and it is overwhelming.
So at what point do we see that deniers of LGBT inclusion are in fact betraying the future church of reaching entire swaths of humanity–and indeed, the losses have already begun?
Christians have been isolating themselves from us for so long that they just can’t know how bad it is. In conservative or evangelical Christianity, the first thing that happens when someone comes out (as LGBTQ) is that other Christians turn away from us. They restrict access and build walls with rules and invalidation.
Since we’ve been exiled in the first act, nobody among the group that banished us ever knows what happens next. We’re not around. They don’t see the anguish in our eyes, or sit with us as we cry.
Before this event, the author suspected that straight conservative communities were just in denial about the harm of their beliefs. But then…
But after spending a weekend with over a thousand LGBTQ Christians at the 2015 Gay Christian Network conference, and listening to story after story of injury and thoughtlessness, I am ready to admit that my previous explanation of Christians’ unawareness as an excuse for the pain inflicted is certainly no longer true. I no longer believe that they just don’t know.
And I don’t care what kind of mental gymnastics keeps them from integrating that understanding. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they see our pain and it doesn’t move them. They see us hurt; they see us begging them, as fellow believers, to love us. And they are unmoved.
Such active betrayal leads Herder (and others) to cease the conversation, be “done” with the Church universal (including progressive communities), and work to heal their own community without the Church. Quote:
For me, I’m going to turn my attention toward my own people. I’m going to try to figure out how to help the wounded among us move through our trauma and pain to become the extraordinary spiritual human beings that Christ/Sophia created us to be.
I know that She forgives the Christians who know what they do, when they see us lying wounded by the road and show no mercy. I know She forgives them.
Maybe with Her help I’ll be able to, someday, as well.
It’s not too late…
Often in my online engagements about LGBT inclusion, I get pushback very similar to Herder’s: it’s too late. The church has done too much damage, has sawed off the gay arm of the Body of Christ, and now must just apply a tourniquet instead of trying to reattach the appendage. LGBT Christians have left the church and see no reason to encourage LGBTs inside the church walls to stay.
But like climate change, what affects one climate affects the entire climate. And what affects one part of Christianity affects the entire Body of Christ. For straight allies and denominationally-minded LGBT Christians, we must refuse to allow our pockets of Christianity to actively betray the future Church.
The dear readers of this blog might be first to say “that’s not me! I’m not betraying anyone!” That may be true, but by our silence while denominational leaders and Christian figureheads on television and the Internet keep actively betraying the church, we are working for them.
The generations in power hold in their hands the possibilities: either a future filled with hope for climate change and LGBT inclusion, or a future where the church and world are irreversibly broken and stuck in closed-feedback loops that lead to their own destruction. While the earth is pretty dang important, as a person of faith, I’m here to say the church is important too, and it’s worth the effort and the coordinated opposition to the powerful betrayers to help it survive the winter of discontent.
During this time of Lent, which means “spring,” may we find new clarity in the sunshine as to what denial actually means, and may we work together to oppose the entrenched betrayers in our midst.