Friday, April 25, 2008
Accepting And Approving
Broadway, founded in 1882, is a downtown church known for its work with the poor, its massive organ and a worship style that features far more liturgy and classical music than is found in most Baptist churches. Women serve as deacons and ministers at Broadway, and gay people have long been part of the congregation in what some members describe as a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.My initial response is that showing up to have their picture taken as a couple sort of violates the whole "don't tell" provision of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. It rises to the level of rude.
A pictorial directory was being assembled last year as part of the church’s 125th anniversary celebration. But when some gay couples showed up to get their pictures taken, conflict quickly emerged.
Some members felt that allowing the photos would go beyond “welcoming” gay people to “affirming” homosexuality in opposition to certain Bible verses. Others argued that gay couples deserved to be pictured just like other couples and that the proposed alternative of having them pictured individually would be demeaning.
Imagine you are a dinner guest at someone's house. They are Japanese and you don't particularly like sushi, but that is what shows up on your dinner plate. You are then confronted with options. One, you can dive in and act like you like sushi. This is great, you've joined the party completely and you might end up actually liking the stuff. Two, you can quietly pick at your food appearing to eat, enjoying the conviviality. This is not so bad either - you have respected your hosts, you have benefited from the encounter. Three, you can proclaim your distaste for sushi and place your host in the extraordinarily awkward position of appearing to be a bad host when they are simply providing you with what they consider is the best their culture has to offer.
This couple have obviously chosen option three. This church has graciously opened its doors to them and rather than accept the grace these couples have elected to try and take over the household. It's just rude. And, because the church's deepest desire is to be gracious hosts, they are put in a no-win scenario.
Well, grace is not violated by refusing under such circumstances, it is only underscored. The church cannot allow itself to be shamed into being something other than what it is, particularly when there is nothing shameful in its actions.
Todd, raises an entirely different issue in his questions in the wake of this story - they concern the management of church politics when they are taken outside the normal channels of communication. That is a question for another post.
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