I’ve spent hours reading posts in The Mennonite. This was a refreshing and hope-filled experience. Older people are speaking of their dreams, younger people are sharing their visions, and middle-aged people in power are listening. Such sharing promotes understanding and unity. The Mennonite board and staff should be complimented for allowing their medium to be the open conversation that it is. Yet I recall that some fear to speak because they do not feel it is safe.
Everyone wants a safe place. A refugee flees from a place of danger or hardship in hopes of finding a safe place. On National Public Radio, I heard of a thirteen-year-old boy who was rescued from the sea. he was fleeing from his home in Africa to a refuge in Italy. His parents consented that he leave them because they wanted a better life for him. The NPR said that Italians have the reputation of knowing how to receive refugees and to set them on the way to a new future.
Persons with a same-sex orientation need places where they can let others know their identities without causing a crisis. More safe places are opening in society. Discrimination by businesses is frowned upon. Courts in a majority of the states have determined that marriage by same-sex couples is legal within their jurisdictions. Citizens across the country are preparing themselves for the possibility that a Supreme Court decision will favor marriage of same-sex couples in all states.
For many years, same-sex couples who believe themselves to be Christians have longed for a safe place within a church community. The Executive Board of the Mennonite Church USA recently restated its commitments to the 1965 Mennonite Confession of Faith and to agreements made by church delegates in 2001. It also recognized that the church is divided on understandings of human sexuality and same-sex marriage.and therefore supported a resolution calling for the exercise of “grace, love and forbearance in the midst of our differences.”
If my memory is correct, Amos Weaver, president of LMS, wrote that every church division carries with it the seeds of the next division. Is it not true that grace, love and forbearance inhibit the germination of the seeds of division? Should we not expect that strictly required beliefs and behaviors tend to counter grace, love and forbearance, and provide an environment for the next division.