An Open Letter To Rockingham Mandurah Lutheran Church. Part 2.
A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality. LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.
My last post caused some offense. One commentator, Aussietap, said…
“I disagree Neil, our church, I am talking about your ex-congregation is not about marginalization and I think you know that. I have received nothing but positive feedback from at least my circle of friends within the congregation. The leadership council are willing to work with you on this. Yes there are the Yahnkes, and Muehlenbergs who have taken it upon themselves to spread their style of bigotry but that is a separate issue. There can be a lot of fulfillment in reconciliation and working together rather than blobbing your anger at a “thing” at a community of people who at the end of the day love you. Despair is what some gay people feel and you are giving them hope, hope that they may someday experience the family of God like other Christians. Don’t despair Neil it is not all bad -sometimes it just feels like it.”
“…family is family – and our church family here in Rockingham is I believe, a good thing. There are issues that need to be sorted but it isn’t all bad. The picture you are painting is dark – and yes that darkness needs to be lit up – but the darkness is not the whole picture. I am just concerned about the despair that you feel.”
Let me challenge you on this Aussietap. I believe that, had I just put the post and left it generic…as applying to all churches in the LCA then I don’t think you would have had a problem. Correct me if I am wrong but I suspect that you would have whole heartedly agreed with the post. You would have agreed because you know that the LCA has formal teachings and practices that marginalize and hurt gay people and their families.
The main issue I raise in the post, the challenge I put, is that the teachings of the LCA would preclude the family depicted from attending communion. So, they are not welcomed. They are not welcomed by the LCA and they are not welcomed by the Rockingham Mandurah Lutheran Church.
The church exists to be the mouth, hands and feet of Jesus in the community: Jesus with skin on. In the Lutheran Church that culminates at the altar where the words… “Take and eat…take and drink..” are spoken. If they are not welcome at that table then the church is saying that Jesus does not welcome them. They are not welcomed. They are excluded. They are marginalised.
I am not saying that the members of Rockingham Lutheran Church are unwelcoming people. The truth is, I don’t know many of the people in the congregation and I can make no assessment of that. I assume, however, that they are very kind, loving and welcoming people. What I am saying is that, when the doors are opened this Sunday, if the family portrayed in the post were to enter and ask to join the congregation and come to the Lord’s Table they would have to be refused. The very existence of their family would be judged as open and unrepentant sin. I suspect that the pastor would do it with a heavy heart and that no one would be happy about it but they would be excluded non-the-less.
You mention that the picture I paint is dark. Yes, It is very dark indeed. And the darkness has nothing to do with whether the people in the congregation are welcoming or not. The darkness is in the teaching and practise of a church that opens its door, claims to speak for Jesus, and then says …”you are excluded”.
And, like it or not, this is the teaching and practise of the Rockingham Mandurah Lutheran Church toward gay people just as it is the teaching and practise of every LCA congregation unless or until they say otherwise.
I suspected that the previous post might not be as well received as others. Because of that I took a couple of precautions. First, I sat on it for 3 weeks before posting to make sure it wasn’t reactionary. Second, I gave it to my wife to read and only pressed “post” with her OK. (She is my leveler and sometimes conscience).
Aussietap, had I titled the post ” An Open Letter to the LCA” you would, I suspect, have supported it. Yet, you are offended or upset that I have made this challenge to Rockingham Mandurah Lutheran Church. The Rockingham Mandurah Lutheran Church IS the LCA. That is precisely why I titled the post as I did to make that point sink home. The LCA is not separate from its membership. It is the teachings of the LCA that gives the Congregation its reason for being. The membership of the Congregation cannot distance itself from or ignore the teachings of the LCA.
You said that the Yahnke tapes are a separate issue. I don’t believe they are. The Yahnke tapes are promoted on the LCA website, our website. So, the Yahnke tapes are promoted by the Rockingham Mandurah Lutheran Church. I can see why you are offended by my post Aussietap. It is offensive to be personally linked with that kind of bigotry. And yet, we are.
So, I challenge all the members of the Rockingham Mandurah Lutheran Church, all the members of all the congregations…be offended. But ask yourself. “Why am I offended?” Then ask yourself, “What am I doing about it?”
In the mean time, have a listen to one prominent church man as he discussed homosexuality. You might recognise him. He knows a thing or two about being treated unjustly by one’s community.
Let me be clear. My criticism, my target, is the harmful teaching of the Church and how it affects my gay friends. My criticism is only directed at the people of the church in as much as we actively promote or passively allow this teaching.
Please also note that in my post, in my criticism, I used the inclusive “we” and not the finger-pointing “you”.
(BTW. This clip and the one in the previous post comes from an excellent documentary called “For The Bible Tells Me So”. I have a copy on DVD and paid the rights for it to be shown publicly in my group studies on homosexuality. If anyone wants to borrow it for a couple of days… let me know.)