Thank you for sharing your memories of your first MCUSA convention, back in Nashville, at the very start of the denomination. That experience, you said, both drew you to Mennonites and pushed you from the church. Sixteen years later, I feel the same forces still: a deep attraction to the love of this community and a sadness about the struggle it has had to embrace queer believers. In the end, you say, “I wasn’t going to participate in a faith community where I had to argue for the simple, lovely humanity of people who loved each other.” There is a tremendous cost to rejecting people because of their sexuality.
This week, a post on the blog Righting America prompted me to take up the question in a new way. There, Susan L. Trollinger and William Vance Trollinger, Jr., the authors of Righting America at the Creation Museum (John Hopkins Press 2016) and former faculty at Bluffton College, now at the University of Dayton, shared a list of just 20 of the times that Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis, wrote anti-LGBT messages in his own blog posts since last year. They write
All this on the necessity of Christians to resist LGBTQ rights, to reject the legitimacy of LGBTQ identities, and to understand the effort of LGBTQ individuals to assert their civil rights as an assault on the rights of Christians. All this, and yet nothing or virtually nothing from Ham and AiG on issues pertaining to poverty, refugees, income/wealth inequality, structural racism, and misogyny.
Which makes me re-visit a question I thought a lot about as I observed the incredible energy and dedication of Westboro Baptists as I researched God Hates: Westboro Baptist Church, American Nationalism, and the Religious Right: What good could these folks do if they pointed their energy toward alleviating suffering?
Even for those people who believe that same-sex sexuality is a sin, what do they lose when they focus their energy here? Jesus tells us that when we visit the imprisoned, comfort the grieving, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, then we are serving him–which means that every moment spent condemning gay people is a moment even otherwise sweet, kind, hardworking Mennonites are taking from more important work.
Above, dinosaurs boarded the ark, according to the Creation Museum’s account of Noah and the flood. As the church camp song says, “The animals, they came on, they came on by twosies, twosies/Elephants and kangaroosies roosies.” Later, if the song leader was feeling naughty, you might sing, “The animals, they came off by threesies threesies/Grizzly bears and chimpanzeesies zeesies.” The song is silly, but anti-LGBT Christians point to the story of Noah’s ark as evidence of God’s plan for people to be only in heterosexual pairs.