Matthew 18: 18 – 20
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Today’s text is nestled between two important questions. The preceding issue is that of how to deal with a sibling in Christ who has sinned against you. The following issue is related to how often one should forgive. It would seem clear then, that this section of Jesus’ teaching is focused on not just our relationships with one another but our interconnectedness.
We need each other.
Jesus reminds us that there is power in our shared work.
We know that God’s presence is with us, whether we are gathered with others or not. The Spirit of the living Christ is within us. Jesus’ emphasis on gathering together in his name points to the larger reality of attending to one another – and in the action of doing so – we will know, in a uniquely tangible way, that Jesus is among us.
There was a time in my work with the ministry when I wasn’t always forth-coming about my personal convictions about LGBTQ+ affirmation. At the time, we were focused on building bridges and trying to cultivate dialogue in places that had not made space for LGBTQ+ voices to be heard. I was often serving in the role of facilitating conversation among diverse groups where some affirmed God’s blessing over the covenant of marriage regardless of gender and others affirmed only the model of one man, one woman marriage. My supposed neutrality as a facilitator seemed important so that all voices could be heard.
Perhaps some of us feel a similar need to keep our cards close to our chests within our church contexts. We know that people fall in various places on the theological question of marriage, and we deem it best to quietly listen and love people where they’re at.
What became increasingly clear to me, however, is that there really is no neutrality on the question of LGBTQ+ affirmation – and that attempts to remain neutral are in fact complicit with the exclusion and oppression that LGBTQ+ people often experience in the church. This is a hard truth to process – especially when you enjoy the privilege of being one of the included and affirmed ones.
Where people have deeply discerned convictions, it is important to listen and to love – becoming enlarged in our understanding of why the other believes what they do. This is particularly important in relating to LGBTQ+ people whose best discernment leads them to hold to the theological view that calls them to celibacy.
But on the question of whether you will speak up and tell your church leadership that you support LGBTQ+ justice, there is no neutrality. There may be timing and readiness to discern. But fence-sitting is merely complicit with the harm that many LGBTQ+ people experience in the church.
I believe this is what Jesus is talking about when he calls us to agree and ask, and experience the power of God’s presence in our solidarity together.
We need each other.
- Who are the people in your church that you need to agree, ask, and gather with to pursue LGBTQ+ justice?
God you reveal yourself to us as intrinsically relational – in the dance of always pouring out self-emptying love and receiving fullness of love. Within your perfect relationality, there is always trust, there is always enough. As we reflect on our communities of faith, help us to see and know who to build solidarity with to pursue LGBTQ+ justice. If the group is small to begin with, help us to trust that your presence is enough to give us all that we need to take the next best step. Amen.
This Lenten reflection accompanies the Tell Your Pastor #imaffirming initiative. To learn more click here.