I always have to tell myself to not read the comments.
Whenever a friend or colleague shares a news article or blog post online, I find myself pretty all right with humanity, until I get to the end of the article and see that 4,000 people have commented on the article, mostly in response to one another, and only about 2,000 of them can spell. The disconnect between actual human interaction and being able to spew opinions all over the place has led to this odd fundamentalism in the public discourse—I am not only right, but you are tremendously wrong—and when it’s about anything involving religion… well, I’m sure you can imagine.
This week, our neighbor congregation Northaven United Methodist Church made pretty big waves as their pastor emeritus (and a former interim here at MHCC) Bill McElvaney announced from the pulpit that he would be performing same-sex marriages in violation of parts of the UMC Book of Discipline. You may recall that one pastor, Frank Schaefer, has already been stripped of his credentials for doing so and that another pastor, Frank Ogletree, has now been brought up on charges. The fun involvement of MHCC is this: Northaven UMC is forbidden from hosting a same-sex marriage ceremony on its property, so we’ve responded as good neighbors should and offered our building for their use. More details on this will emerge as schedules and plans are made public.
Now, amazingly, I read the news articles about this yesterday, and I kept going to the comments. I was tempted to respond, to explain to these people declaring Bill and the UMC apostates, sinners, wicked, confused, awful, evil, bad, and otherwise Undesirable that they didn’t understand the full context, that they weren’t there, that they aren’t a part of it—and then… No. Love has to win on its own. Arguing with those who are adamantly sure they’re experts and absolutely right doesn’t bear much fruit, does it? Instead, doing justice because it is what we do and who we are will change the world. It will break in the Reign of God. It will teach us to love more fully and vulnerably.
This Sunday, let’s talk about love. I look forward to seeing you then. And until then, I promise: I’m going to stop reading the comments.