It was about 15 years ago that I saw firsthand how love of enemy and justice for the oppressed clashed with each other. I was in seminary at the time and one Sunday afternoon, I went to a discussion held at a local Lutheran church. The then-Bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod of the ELCA, Mark Hanson (who is now the denomination’s Presiding Bishop) was in attendance. The topic was on LGBT inclusion. Bishop Hanson was trying hard to stress the unity of the church amidst diversity. He tried to talk about how churches that were opposed to having non-celibate gays as pastors and those who advocate for it are brought together and have a place at Christ’s table.
The audience gathered was having none of this happy talk. A few in attendance talked about LGBT folk they knew who were no longer in the church. More than once I heard this phrase which was accompanied with tears: “People are dying!”
I never knew what that phrase meant. Was it literally or figurately? I don’t know. What I did know is that the people wanted some sense of justice for LGBT folk right now-unity be damned.
In the ongoing debates on the role of LGBT persons in the life of the church, we normally see these two important aspects of our faith, love and justice, collide into each other. What I’ve observed over time is that you can’t really bring these two concepts together or at least not perfectly.
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