Grace and Peace to you.
My denomination has conducted a church trial in which a pastor is being defrocked for conducting his gay son’s wedding. I’ve stated elsewhere my biblical and theological understanding of Christian teaching on sexual relationships. Setting aside that issue for a moment, what interests me is the way of proceeding the two parties in the conflict have chosen—particularly the power dynamics involved in a church trial.
One party has acted to divide: to judge, condemn, remove and exclude the other, separating themselves from him, and separating him from his calling and his community, treating him as an alien, taking things away, creating an exile, a refugee. … The image that comes to mind is a pair of scissors.
The other party has joined: honoring a son’s request, blessing a relationship of faithful covenantal love, creating a family, standing in solidarity with those who suffer. … I imagine a needle and thread.
One party has exercised power, remaining secure within a dominant structure, imposing conformity, making demands, punishing, and condemning and putting others down, for the sake of rectitude. No one in that party has risked or given anything, surrendered in any way, or chosen a course that required courage. … A hammer.
The other party has exercised powerlessness, choosing exposure and risk, enduring retribution, suffering, and paying a price to bless and lift others up, for the sake of love. He has not asked for anything, condemned anyone, or coerced anyone. He is completely vulnerable. … A chalice.
Don’t demonize or deify either party: both parties have acted in faith and made mistakes. And set aside the sexual issue. Look at these two ways of using power. This is what the way of the cross looks like. Which way of using power do you believe God calls you to: coercion or powerlessness, uniting or dividing, judging or blessing? Which one reminds you of Jesus? Which one seems like it will heal the world? How might that look in your own life?
You cannot serve two masters—the Religion of Being Right and the Religion of Being in Love. It will be one or the other. Choose the way of the cross.
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