Rachel Held Evans
posted on her blog the 15 reasons she left the church
. In beginning her article she talks about the popularity of the subject and how now days there is no shortage of books and articles on the subject of why people leave the church. As I was reading Rachel’s list I could agree with most of them and while I haven’t left the church she names some of the most frustrating areas of church life for me. However, when I got to her last reason I stopped and paused thinking to myself, really? Rachel’s last reason is this:
15. I left the church because one day, they put signs out in the church lawn that said “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman: Vote Yes on Prop 1,” and I knew the moment I saw them that I never wanted to come back.
Now I don’t know why this upset her so much if it was the fact that the church was standing up against homosexuality, if she doesn’t see homosexuality as a sin, or if it was simply the manner in which the church was treating homosexuals. Be that as they take a stand against legislation they are actually sending the message that homosexuals are not welcome. I simply don’t know, but as I read it I couldn’t help but wonder how we as the church are to take this. Should we not stand up for something we believe in for fear of losing people? I think the answer to this is clearly NO. However, I do think we should rethink our methods and try to speak the truth in love, which is something we don’t do all that well. The church can be very harsh in its method of communicating scriptural truth. We can be harsh to the point of driving people away.
The issue here is not whether you are for or against homosexuality, I think the issue is how we communicate our beliefs and take a stand for those beliefs. We should stand up for our beliefs in a way that fosters growth, conversation, and love. Not in a way that is harsh and drives people away by forcing our beliefs on others. As a church we should still stand for our beliefs, but we have to realize that not everyone in our congregation is at the same place. Therefore, taking a public stand may actually do more harm than good. Churches aren’t supposed to have all the answers or be the place that has its act together, instead it is to be a hospital for sinners, for people who don’t have it all together (which is all of us). Maybe instead of taking a side and putting out a lawn sign this church should have held town hall meetings where dialogue and teaching could take place. This would create a forum where both sides could be valued and the church could show that they care for and love everyone regardless of which side they are on.
How do you feel about Rachel’s reason for leaving?
How do you think the church should have reacted in this situation?
What are your thoughts on the church offering a situation where all sides to an issue can be value?