Part of my response to his comment is:
“Your response sounds like the doctor who sees a woman with a bruise around her eye. He has years of medical training and experience, so he diagnoses here with a periorbital ecchymosis, tells her to put ice on it, and sends her home. A more thoughtful and caring doctor might start gently inquiring, and uncover a case of domestic abuse, and help the woman find resources to help her get out of that situation. This may not be the best example, but my point is, don’t assume this person has nothing to contribute to the conversation just because the article isn’t full of footnotes. I suspect people who have left, or who are considering it may be the best people to listen to on the subject.”
Another regular on the page goes on to respond:
“Pretty much the ending of the piece is all about how the church (because it’s monolithic apparently) makes him feel judged, etc. (Making someone feel something….that is a whole different problem and discussion as it is functionally impossible.) The whole this is nothing short of yet another conservative hit piece wrapped in a nice bow. He talks about feeling judged if the church teaches something contrary to his thoughts, beliefs, etc. That leaves no room for sin in general. What it seems is that the church can talk about any sin it wants to…except the ones he (and those who support this type of thinking) doesn’t like.”
I lead you through this morass, and believe me, it goes on and on, to point out how even people ordained by the UMC have no interest in even having a legitimate discussion around this topic. All they can do is find a statistic to say they’re correct today, so this is the way it has to be done. Too many (not all) of the conservative evangelicals don’t have the self-awareness to realize they are the problem, when Gen X’ers and Millennials are hitting them right in the face with it.
The author never even asks the church to change its polity or beliefs, he simply asks the church to “meet me where I am. He writes, “It’s here, in my flawed, screwed-up, wounded, shell-shocked, doubting, disillusioned me-ness that I’ve been waiting for you to step in with this whole supposedly relentless, audacious “love of Jesus” thing I hear so much about, and make it real.”
But that seems too much for today’s evangelical, and yes, while I note this author doesn’t call out the evangelicals, the younger people who are leaving the church certainly, and I certainly am pointing the finger. It’s their way or the highway, and you don’t get past the bouncer at the door, the guy with the theology checklist.
So the leadership of the denominations, including the United Methodist Episcopy can do all the hand wringing they want, spill all the ink they can find on studies, and hire all the consultants they can find. This young man has given them the answer:
“Even if we are the woman in adultery, or the doubting follower, or the rebellious prodigal, or the demon-riddled young man, we can’t be anything else right now in this moment; and in this moment, we need a Church big enough, and tough enough, and loving enough; not just for us as we might one day be then, but for us as we are, now.
We still believe that God is big enough, and tough enough, and loving enough, even if you won’t be, and that’s why even if we do walk away, it doesn’t mean we’re walking away from faith; it’s just that faith right now seems more reachable elsewhere.”
I wish I had the faith to believe the UMC has the strength of its convictions and the self-awareness to listen to this simple message, but I no longer do. I see it on Facebook, in the public and political sphere, in the pulpit of my church, and the leadership of the Methodist Church. The desire to fire the bouncer and drop the checklist just isn’t there.