“Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn't as bright as it could be.”
Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith)
At the lake, I am part of a group of six women. Two are married to one another, and two have lived together for a long time. I am a straight woman who loves them as I did my flesh and blood sisters. They are the pack that helped me raise my sons after my husband moved out. Two of them gave me a job when I desperately needed one, and we have remained close for two and a half decades. Three of them are members of a Southern Baptist Church that stepped outside the bounds of the denomination's laws and called a woman to be Senior Pastor. They are far more religious than I, and I would say that they are “better Christians.” They tutor disadvantaged children in a public housing project, not now and then, when it's convenient for them, but every week, and they have for many years. One of them volunteers in a hospice, and sits weekly in a Centering Prayer group. And, even so, much of the church, at least in Alabama, has condemned and rejected them simply because of their sexual orientation.
Politicians in Alabama fought tooth-and-nail against the Marriage Equality Act. The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who once had a two-ton monument of the Ten Commandments hauled into the rotunda of the Department of Justice, was removed from office for telling his Probate Judges to defy the Supreme Court of the United States by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He, and others like him, describe themselves in all their campaign literature as “God fearing Christians,” but I have a feeling that their Lord, Jesus, would stand with the folks whose rights have been denied, just as He always did.
If Christian Churches are dying, it is not because of the darkness all around them. It is because their light has become dim—I don't think Jesus would be able to see it or recognize it as His own. Our youth, the millennial generation, have given up even trying to see it, and have forged their own version of spirituality that burns bright and openhearted. They embrace the stranger, they do not judge, they do not live for money, or stand tall in the temples waiting for the praise of others. They are in the streets protesting injustice in all its forms, even if they themselves are not the victims of it. They take seriously stewardship of the earth, and protection of the precious ecosystems of this planet. I want to belong to their church—its light is brilliant.
In the Spirit,