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Using Y(our) Prophetic Voices

December 12, 2017

I recently had the honor of hosting a number of  Mama Bears, women who are fiercely protective of and advocating for their LGBTQ kids, at one of our Blue Ocean Faith Columbus church services.  I spoke about the need to use our voices to speak into the culture, to be the voice that speaks truth in the midst of a dark and difficult time. At their request, I’m posting my sermon here:

A few days ago J* had posted an article on her Facebook page by Caitlin J. Stout. It was a good article.  It struck some deep chords with me. It was about being in a abusive relationship…with the church.  And it had a take away that inspired what I have to say tonight.  Because I think all of us, not just the Mama Bears here, have been abused by the church in some way shape or form.  I don’t know everyone’s story, but to me, it felt important to express and discuss the idea I’m going to put forth.  So this is the part of the article that got me on this track:

The thing is, Queer folks are not dating the Church, we are the Church. And I’m beginning to realize that as soon as I start talking about the Body of Christ as an entity separate from myself, I am doing what non-affirming Christians have been trying to do to me for years. Spiritual abuse makes you see yourself as an issue up for debate. It distorts the beauty of the sacraments and turns them into these badges of belonging that you have to fight and work and bleed for. But the reality is that God has already given you a seat at the table. Jesus has already invited you to take and eat. The Body of Christ is already Queer.

This is not to minimize the very real abuse that does happens within the Body. This is not to say that anyone needs to stay in a congregation where they are not celebrated as equals. This is a reminder that “Child of God” is a title that cannot be revoked, and when we internalize that title, we are liberated. We can no longer settle for being tolerated, nor can we ignore the ways in which we have been hurtful to others. After all, the Body of Christ is also Black. The Body of Christ uses a wheelchair. The Body of Christ is undocumented. The Body of Christ is hungry and homeless.

We’ve been looking at the book of Ephesians for a few weeks, and the passage we read tonight sprang to mind when I read this part of Caitlin’s article.  Because we are the body of Christ, even when we’ve been rejected by another part of the body of Christ. (Who by the way, when they have rejected us for any reason, are in violation of 1 Corinthians 12: 15-27. This is the passage where Paul, again speaking about gifts and the body of Christ, explicitly states that no part of the body can say to another part of the body, “I don’t need you.”)

We are all part of the body of Christ.  Nothing can take that from us.  There may be people who claim to speak for Christ, who would imply that they can reject us from the body.  But, THEY DO NOT HAVE THAT AUTHORITY.

Let’s look at that passage again – with my thoughts on why I wanted to talk about this tonight.  I’m hoping this will be an encouragement to all of us.

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  (Ephesians 4: 11-16 NIV)

The point of having people who act as apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers is to help us grow up into Christ.  Not to be Christ, not to interpret what “God hates,” not to impose things that aren’t actually in the bible on us,  but  to point us in the right direction.  To reflect who Christ is.  To SPEAK TRUTH IN LOVE.  Yes, that phrase gets abused A LOT.  “I’m just speaking the truth in love, while I say hateful things to you, while I reject you, while I revile you and your child”.  That is not speaking the truth in love.

The message of Jesus, the message we are to be growing into, the message that is hard to hear, because it seems too good to be true, is that each and every one of us is deeply and thoroughly loved by God.  That we are loved.  That he loves us.  That we are worthy of being loved.  That there is nothing we can do, nor is there anything that someone else can do that can separate us from the love of God.

And the body is supposed to be growing up into that knowledge of loving and being loved.

And yet…  it isn’t.  Sometimes it seem to be growing in hate and divisiveness.

Which is why we need prophets.  The prophet is the one who tells the truth, when the truth is uncomfortable, like Nathan confronting David about Bathsheba.  (2 Samuel 12)

The prophet is the one who calls the government to account, when it has strayed from the truth (a huge chunk of the Old Testament.)

Being a prophet is an uncomfortable role.  Prophets often aren’t well received.

Being a prophet is hard.

And yet, that is the role that many of us have been called to.

Perhaps you’ve been called to be a prophetic voice to the church because your child came out.  You didn’t choose that role.  It was thrust upon you.

You’d rather not have that role, you were probably taught that you should be quiet in the church.  But you had kids, and you became a Mama Bear.  It didn’t start when your child came out.  You were already a Mama Bear.  Because Mama Bears become Mama Bears the day their first child is born.  You just didn’t know how hard it was going to be.

You thought the church would have your back.  And then it didn’t, and it hurt.  It hurt like hell.

But the prophet is not born easily, and this pain is part of the process.  The body of Christ needs its prophets to speak the truth – that ALL are loved.  ALL are included.  That no human can decide if someone is or is not a part of the body of Christ.

I want to encourage all of us to use our prophetic voice to tell the truth in love.  That God loves us – all of us.

This doesn’t mean you have to stay in a church that abuses you.  No.  You need to take care of you and those you love.  But I do want to encourage you to continue to speak out, to be that prophetic voice.  Knowing that you’ll be rejected sometimes.  But also knowing that your voice might be the voice that makes a difference in a family’s life, in a child’s life, in a church’s life.

 *  *  *

We finished the evening by praying for the Mama Bears individually.  Praying for courage and healing and perseverance.   I’m looking forward to hearing more from these courageous women!

*One of the Mama Bears.  Since not all Mama Bears have publicly identified themselves, I respect their privacy by not using any of their names.

One Comment
  1. Hi Sue, Interesting thoughts. I’m still trying to process what is the right approach to unconditional love that does not dishonor Biblical truth. My heart is on a mission for the truth; and it is open to God’s leading. You may remember that Caitlyn Stout is the daughter of our dear friends, Phil and Carol Stout. Great family. Blessings on you and your church! Doug Nault

    Like

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