The fact is, we can say without hesitation that LGBTQ inclusivity is possible because we already have it, both in terms of ordination and marriage–and have had it for a long time.
LGBTQ clergy (most of whom have not felt able to come out) have served the UMC as devout Christians, dedicated disciples, and effective pastors– and are doing so this very minute. We all know this. It is time to turn what we know into how we live together.
The same holds true for couples in partnerships and, more recently, legal marriages. Longstanding covenant commitments (sacredness, monogamy, fidelity, and permanency) are found in LGBTQ relationships. Again, we all know this. It is time to take what we know and turn it into how we live together.
If we were to stop operating with an ecclesial version of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” we would immediately discover that one of the main reasons for being an inclusive denomination with respect to LGBTQ clergy and marriages is that we already are one. We have many LGBTQ clergy and laity currently serving. To become officially inclusive is only to acknowledge what is already true.
This is not a capitulation to culture. It is the offering of ordination and marriage to all using covenant standards, and doing so in ways that eliminate secrecy. Our Christian LGBTQ sisters and brothers are longing for the day when they will have what the rest of us already have–the holy mix of opportunity and accountability.
It begins with previously-silent allies becoming public advocates, taking what we already know from the evidence of decades of faithful LGBTQ witnesses, and turning our knowledge into polity. LGBTQ people will weep for joy when those who have affirmed them in private do so in public, including the turning of their support into denominational inclusivity.
If we bring the hard evidence of current reality to the table, along with the four other matters I noted last week, we will find ourselves standing before an open door through which we can walk to bring the UMC to the place where all means all.