Sunday, July 12, 2009

Don't Ask Don't Tell in the church

A reader tipped me off to this piece by the Rev. Gordon Atkinson about a painful incident he and his congregation went through over a decade ago. A lesbian couple with two young daughters started attending the church regularly and became friends with everyone including the pastor's own kids. The "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy regarding their relationship seemed to work fine until the couple asked to become members.

One woman said to me, “I have no problem with Mary and Karen joining our church. But the fact is, the majority of the people in this church believe that homosexuality is sinful. We’ve never talked about it, but you and I both know that is the case. If Mary and Karen join and no one says anything to them, they will likely assume that our church blesses and affirms homosexual relationships. If we are going to be in community with them, shouldn’t we be honest with them about this?”
In spite of many good intentions, the story does not end well. It illustrates the kind of dilemma the conservative church will be facing more often in the coming years. I don't think there are easy answers, but certainly finding solutions can't happen unless we in the conservative church are willing to discuss homosexuality openly and calmly. Sweeping it under the rug until reality hits us square in the face at some future point can only result in disaster.