How to be inclusive among those who are not so inclusive

Even as I typed the title of this article, I sense a good bit of arrogance in the tone.  And I’m the one who penned the title!  It reminds me of a Republican friend of mine, who loves to say to me that, “Liberals, who speak of tolerance so eloquently, are very often some of the most intolerant people I know.”

One of the ways that I maintain my ministerial sanity, as I work among a church people who are generally not inclusive of GLBT people in the life and ministry of the church, is to remind myself of two things:  1. I have been there too.  2. I am still there too.  Here’s what I mean:

“I have been there too.”  I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t too many years ago when I was at first against the notion of embracing GLBT people in the life of the church, and later on I was just indifferent to the whole idea (in my indifferent way of thinking, “those folks only make up a small percentage of the population, and certainly there are none in my church, so what’s the big deal?”).  It was only after a good bit of theological wrestling, and more importantly, in developing strong relationships of friendship and shared ministry with people in the GLBT community, that my mind was firmly changed.  So, one thing that keeps me from totally exploding at people who are not firmly supportive of GLBT people in ministry is that I have been there too.  However, because I have indeed “been there” and in hindsight know how wrong I was in being there, I am very passionate that others move from “there” to “here” with me.  Perhaps this makes me impatiently patient in regard to the church and its relations with the GLBT community?

Secondly, “I am still there too.”  While my mind has changed in my thoughts and actions toward the GLBT community, I still fail miserably in so many other ways.  I am still arrogant, I still speak quickly and listen only reluctantly, I am very good at looking down at people who aren’t like me in whatever way, etc., etc.  And unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), some of the very people who are not so inclusive in their welcome of GLBT people as I am are much, much better at loving others than I am.  So even as I am passionate about my support of GLBT concerns, I have to temper my passion in some ways, knowing that I am still a work in progress too.  However, even though I know that I am still very much on the way in my journey, I also know that walking along that way with those of the GLBT community is vital to any journey with Christ.