Dear Mr. Wallis:
Yesterday, you published a post on your blog articulating why your magazine refused to publish an ad from the “Believe Out Loud” campaign, which calls for the full inclusion of LGBTQ folks in our congregational life. In explaining your choice you said, in part:
But these debates have not been at the core of our calling, which is much more focused on matters of poverty, racial justice, stewardship of the creation, and the defense of life and peace. These have been our core mission concerns, and we try to unite diverse Christian constituencies around them, while encouraging deep dialogue on other matters which often divide. Essential to our mission is the calling together of broad groups of Christians, who might disagree on issues of sexuality, to still work together on how to reduce poverty, end wars, and mobilize around other issues of social justice.
As one who grew up Southern Baptist and found Sojourners to be people who stretched and challenged my concept of who I was called to be in this world as a follower of Christ, I am deeply disappointed by your words because they lack the courage and conviction that I’ve seen in your work for justice over the years. I’m sorry to see you, well, play politics and play it safe. At least that’s how it feels to me — and I know from reading just a few of the comments on your blog that I am not the only one that feels this way. Had the issues regarding equal acceptance and equal marriage were being drawn along racial lines, would you have written the same paragraph?
Last week on Grey’s Anatomy, Callie, one of the doctors who was about to get married, and who was also lesbian, was doubting herself and her commitment to the one she loved because her parents had walked out on the wedding since “the church” would not sanction it. Miranda, one of my favorite characters, challenged her to stay true to her commitment. “The church has a lot of catching up to do with God,” she said. Her words rang in my ears as I read your post.
You are falling behind.
None of us has the luxury of deciding what parts of God’s calling we are going to live out. I understand that we all have interests and abilities that perhaps lead us into one area or another with greater emphasis, but cannot decide, as you have done, that we won’t take up an issue because it’s too controversial or it might affect our ability to raise awareness – or funds – in other areas. Your work in fighting against the injustice of war and poverty is important and valuable. Yet how can we deal only with economic poverty and not come to terms with the spiritual bankruptcy that allows us to discriminate against GLBTQ folks in Jesus’ name? If we, who have the choice to say it doesn’t affect us or it is not our top concern, do not make it a vital issue in our lives how will things ever change? You advocate for the poor because you know their voices will not be heard on their own. Does that stance not demand a universal application?
You are right to think that taking a stand will cost you. Trying to not have to take a stand will cost you more. I also understand, as you say, that not all of us who call ourselves Christian agree on this issue, just as Christians have been divided each time they have had to catch up with God when it comes to including and loving one another. At this crucial intersection of faith and justice, please don’t settle for playing it safe. Whatever you deem your priorities, who knows that you are in this world for such a time as this.