Sex and the Splitting Church: What Just Happened?

Talking to several people about Mennonite church Executive Board meeting Jan. 29-31, the conversation went like this: Wait, what happened? This week, Alabama became the 37th state to allow gay marriage–meanwhile, the Executive Board recommended maintaining the definition of traditional marriage through 2017. Wait, what happened?

I’m not on EB, but I am in the business of offering biased interpretations of church politics. And, this [expletive] backwards decision is actually a move forward. I’m an optimist. But stick with me. Here’s a few ways to look at what happened:

1. EB went back to the drawing board.
For the last 8 months or so, EB has been talking about a “structural solution” to our GLBTQ debates. Most of the objections to inclusion have been voices coming to be and saying, “He hit me; put him in time out.” EB has responded by saying, “I’m not your mom.” EB spent several months working toward a Not Your Mom Resolution–a resolution that would codify more clearly the power structure of MC USA and try to appease the conservative churches by maintaining a doctrinal stance that they could agree with, but allowing liberal churches to do their gay marriage thing, more or less without repercussion. Both liberals and conservatives called this bullshit, and at this meeting, EB admitted that a “structural solution” was, in fact, bullshit. Continue reading

Advertisements

Merry Christmas and Happy Conversations about Sex and Politics

If you celebrate Christmas on Three Kings’ Day, you’ve got a big present coming. In addition to the crazy relatives, you’ll have a thousand Mennonite pastors at your table talking about gay Christians in the church. Yes! It’s another installment of Church Politics and Sexuality. On January 6, Mennonite Church USA is releasing the results of this summer’s survey of church leaders, which focused mostly on pastors’ views of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered role in three areas: church membership, church leadership, and marriage.

I open Christmas presents early. As one of the 1,323 church leaders who took the survey, I got an early peak at the results. And yes, it was one of the highlights of my Christmas. I’m not going to give away any numbers, but, just to get you excited, I have a few hints. This year’s survey builds on a 2006 survey of lay Mennonites and pastors from across the country. So, drawing on the 2006 survey, here’s a few things to watch out for in next week’s data. Continue reading