Monday, February 17, 2014

#14: Standing With My Community

This is the letter I sent to Ervin Stutzman, regarding MCUSA's statement about the inclusion of LGBTQ members as pastors:

These last few days have made me angry, sad, and tired. Not only has my home state attempted to make discrimination (in the name of religious freedom) legal, my church has once again begged off the responsibility of standing up for the "least of these" in our midst.

That is where these people are. Right here, right now. Whether they are "out" or not, they have been quietly attending Mennonite churches since the beginning, bidding on quilts at relief sales, cooking food for potlucks, serving as ushers or nursery workers, even standing at the pulpit. And yet, when they finally garner the courage to let their true voices rise up and ask for an official setting at the table, we squelch their request beneath the words "Scriptural Authority," "God's Will," "Discernment," "Spectrum of Opinion," "Forgiveness," and "Task Force." 

I am tired of it. I am tired of people I love being treated as though they are unworthy of the priesthood of believers. I am tired of continuing the charade of "discernment," which really means "shut up and let the righteous speak." I am tired of the supporters of our mistreated brothers and sisters having to couch their words of change between phrases like "not that those against the LGBTQ community in church are bigots" in order to get their words of change at least given a breath's chance.

But you know, that's what we all really are. Bigots. Each time we look the other way when a minority is treated like a thug, each time we cover our ears when a disabled person is made fun of, each time we pretend a same-sex couple is only a pair of "really good friends," we have taken part in the system that puts us on the inside and others on the outside. We are all guilty of this.

I am not a theologian. My ethics come from life experience. As a child, I was taught by my Mennonite church to believe being LGBTQ was an abomination. But then I met these "abominations," and I realized how they are simply people with childhoods and histories and loves and hates like me. And that was it. They are like me, and I am like them. They are no more or less perfect than I am. They are my community, and I am not going to let the pleas for "discernment" muffle their voices.


  1. Inspiring, Jessica. I was thinking of emailing Ervin, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I think I will make the time today. Rachel

  2. I'm so glad. It's hard to say these things so directly, but I think the time has come for us to be blunt and share what is in our hearts.