So I flew back to Toronto, my home of choice, last Saturday. I was welcomed by getting invited into the "bad room" again at immigration. Because I tried to bring my stuff into the country earlier this summer, (not knowing that this was a BIG MISTAKE), I've been "tagged" and will be going to the "bad room" every time I enter Canada until I get permanent residency (sometime next spring, Lord willing). I'm so tired of this summer! So that was my first welcome to Canada- the question "So when are you leaving?"
A nice thing was that my brother called me when I was in a taxi on the way to my apartment and then my friend Natalie called and invited me to join her and her friends for a drink on Queen Street West. Both gave me the welcome and affirming feeling that I was important and that I mattered. I'm so thankful for my family and friends! Yay!
Then I got into my apartment I started opening my mail and the very first piece of mail I opened was a form letter from the First Baptist Church of Oxford, Kansas (pop. 1,221). It was a letter that stated that they "accept all sinners into our congregation, but we do not 'welcome and affirm'. We welcome and love sinners but refuse to affirm their sin." They were all upset because the executive minister of our region's denomination had said that he didn't believe homosexuality was a sin. Plus they drafted a statement that "God ordained marriage to be the union of one man and one woman."
First of all, I'm saddened that with all the people dead or dying in the South as a result of Hurricane Katrina plus the US and Iraqi people dying in the war, that these small minded people from a small minded town spend time and energy AND MONEY to try to cause trouble amongst American Baptists in Kansas. Also if they were TRULY concerned with "defending marriage" what actions have they taken to prevent poverty, domestic violence, and divorce? What are they doing to help out the struggling single parents out there? Is it because these issues aren't as titilating?
Second of all, I kind of feel like this issue of same-sex marriage is a product of something that society already created, not gay people pushing for "special rights." If you look at what marriage meant in the time of Jesus, it was for the following reasons: 1) property exchange 2) reproduction and as an afterthought 3) romantic love. There was a bride price that was paid when two people were married. If the families were poor, they looked at who would help as a business partner in the work of the spouse. When the Industrial Revolution happened, there was less a need for people to be of the same social class. Marriage was no longer a gain or a loss in property. In addition, birth control and family planning became more common. Procreation stopped becoming a reason to get married. So romantic love was left as a primary reason for matrimony. When marriage became defined that way (note that God allowed these changes to occur and civilization did not end as we know it) gay people suddenly qualified whereas they previously they did not. We aren't "redefining marriage," rather, it's already been defined.
Thirdly, I agree with what Philip Yancy said in his book "What's So Amazing About Grace?" Why is the Church, which should be a place were all can go to find love and acceptance in the spirit of Jesus Christ, avoided by the people who need it most? Many unfortunately see the Church as a place of condemnation and of ungrace. Who enjoys going to a party you feel unwelcome at? Who seeks out an environment where you leave feeling even worse about yourself than you did going in? And finally to use a cliche- What would Jesus do?
Let me be clear though. I have no problems with First Baptist of Oxford excluding me from their church (which is exactly what they are doing when they say they wouldn't welcome me and my partner of 3 years to pray and worship with them unless we changed what God intended us to be). They have a right to their opinion and I would much rather worship where I'm wanted and welcomed. What does sadden me is that they are so unwilling to extend God's grace to allow someone to have an opinion that is different than their own.
Where's the "welcome" in that?