A reader writes … I have not felt welcome

A reader writes …

I recently read your book Why Did Jesus, Moses, Buddha, and Mohamed Cross the Road? and it really speaks to my heart about by Christian beliefs. I am a member of a PCUSA church in [the South] that is being torn apart because of the upcoming vote of the General Assembly concerning the definition of marriage. My husband and I are among the few ‘radicals’ who believe Christ would include gay people with love so I am not sure what we will do if our church votes to leave the denomination. I have not felt to welcome in the last two years because I have spoken out. I love my church family but I no longer want to remain silent. In the South, it is hard to find a place now for Christians who want to explore faith issues you have expressed so well in your book. I don’t know that you have any suggestions, but we continue to pray for an inclusive church based on love and the life of Christ.

It’s painful to leave a congregation … but I think there’s going to be a lot of turmoil in the next few years as lots of people and groups make choices. Some churches and denominations and splits will “double down” on more conservative commitments – often from sincere conviction, and often because their major donors hold them hostage, and often from a mixture of both reasons. Others will open up, making their more conservative members feel abandoned and displaced.
Let’s show grace to each other in this resorting process … It’s inevitable, given the state of affairs in our churches and our polarized culture-wars climate. Those of us who show extra grace in these times will help a difficult process be at least a little more humane.
As one of my friends says, “Have the courage to differ graciously.” Each of those terms matter: courage, differ, graciously.