IF I HAD BEEN IN CHURCH: A RESPONSE TO CUTTING THE MIC


I can count on one hand the number of times I've stood at the pulpit on the first Sunday of the month, in front of an entire congregation, with my sole intention being to share what's in my heart and to testify what I know to be true.

For some, it takes little more than the fact that it's Fast Sunday and thus another opportunity to humble brag to get up from their pew and talk for an extended period of time about how blessed they are to go on vacation/look down on others/uphold an oppressive patriarchal society. For others, it takes a fair amount of courage to stand up and share personal, sacred experiences and perspective.

One of those brave souls is making headlines, which isn't exactly a common trajectory of fast and testimony meetings.

Savannah is a 12-year-old girl that came out to her congregation earlier this month. Standing at the pulpit, reading from a notebook, she testified, her voice unwavering, that she knew God made her just as she was; no mistakes were made, from her freckles to the fact she's gay.

She spoke of how important it is to care about others, especially when they are different. Still reading from the notes she'd so thoughtfully prepared, she declared her dreams to have a career, fall in love, get married, and have a family.

Then her mic cut out.

For those unfamiliar, the pulpit is controlled by one of the leaders of the congregation sitting behind it. They are able to move the pulpit up and down to accommodate height differences between speakers, adjust the volume, and, apparently, turn it off completely should the message being delivered be unwanted.

I've sat through many messages that were off-base, offensive, and outright inaccurate, and I've never once witnessed a mic being turned off. I've never even seen a speaker being tapped on the shoulder and asked to sit down.

That's not to say it hasn't ever happened, but what happened to this twelve-year-old-girl-- a child-- doesn't usually happen to adults.

It isn't typical

It isn't okay.

Given the church's official stance on homosexuality,* it isn't entirely surprising. The church maintains that "same-sex attraction" is acceptable, but acting upon that attraction constitutes sin. After a leaked policy change in 2015, gay members now stand to be excommunicated, apostates, cast into outer darkness. Should their children wish to be baptized, they must wait an additional ten years beyond the normal baptismal age, and the ordinance is to be performed only after they denounce their gay parent.

Would Savannah's mic have been cut if she'd simply stated that she felt same-sex attraction, and not called herself gay or made her plans to marry a woman and have a family known?

I don't know.

I do know that, had I been there and watched a brave child be humiliated and sent back to her seat during what could only be a vulnerable, deeply important moment for her, I would have stood.

I don't know the last time I made my way to the front of the chapel to stand at the pulpit-- I haven't been to church in months as it is-- but I would have walked up. There is nothing that could have kept me from saying what needs to be said.

This is what I would say:

 I believe, as many of you might believe, that we were created and sent to earth by a father and mother in heaven that knew us and loved us before we were born.

I believe that we were created in their images- to be gods and goddesses. We were created with the capacity to grow, to learn, to love and to be loved. 

We are divine- created by Deity and called to return to such a state.

The God I love and serve created me and all my flaws, as well as you and your flaws.

But.

The God I love and serve did not a flawed creation make.

I believe that from the nanosecond we come to exist, who we are runs through every part of us. We are wonderfully made, and who we are at our very core is exactly who we've always been intended to be.

To think that any part of us needs to be altered, ignored, or hidden is to not trust in the infinite wisdom and very nature of the one who created the universe.

To think that anyone has the right to condemn, reject, or otherwise subdue another being is to act as if men and women-- mortals-- can judge as God does.

We cannot. We should not.

The God I believe in would never cast out or reject that which he created, that which is valuable to him, that which is flawless just as it is.

It is one thing to say we believe that we are all made differently.

It is another to say that we're glad for it.

It's still another to say we should love each other in spite of our differences.

It is something else entirely to actually love those who are different from you.

But love for the sake of loving in spite of differences is not love.

Radical love, the Christlike love we are charged to emulate sees differences (and not as a deviation from a standard that should not exist). It rejoices in them.

It is not conditional.

It does not condemn.

It does not cast out.

Radical love hears and it seeks to understand.

It serves to amplify voices so that others might understand. It would always pass the mic to those who stand to teach us the most, and never, ever cut it.

If you are struggling with making you are work with who you're told you should be, there are those who love you, support you, and sustain you until you are able to see that who you should be is exactly who you are.

You are loved.

You are valued.

You are worthy.

You are divine.


I have since seen posts stating that she was in the wrong for standing and declaring her "sin"; that the church has no issue with gay people, so long as they don't act on it.

The disconnect is so glaring, that I wonder how so many fail to see it.

For those struggling to understand the devastation and damage that silencing innocent voices can, and does, invoke- ask yourself if you are really so rigid in keeping with policy that you are unable to see when a child is standing right in front of you, ready to lead bravely with faith and love.

•••

* It should go without saying, but in case it doesn't, I do not believe homosexuality is a sin. I do not believe it is a choice. I do not know my future with the church, but I will forever believe in doing more to ensure the safety of our gay brothers and sisters.

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