Yesterday I talked about the profound lack of grace I have experienced from the church in all of this. Two questions come to mind: why and what could have been different?
In terms of what could have been different — or moments where grace could have been extended — I think there were lots of places. Ad I have said before, I’m not suggesting the church should ignore what I did or even over-reacted… I just think they reacted without any grace.
Grace would have been just simply treating me with some dignity in all of this… allowing me to be part of a real church discipline process… an opportunity to say goodbye… to experience some forgiveness and healing from the community… all of this would have been grace.
So why did it happen this way?
I am not entirely sure.
I do know that the church is a place of grace and has a culture of grace. Grace is one of the core values and by-and-large I think it is a community that extends grace well. (Somewhat ironically, some of the people I know who have received the most grace have been the least graceful in this situation).
I think there are four major reasons why things have played out the way they have:
(1) GRACE IS LIMITED FOR LEADERS
I think this is defacto true in many evangelical churches. It is a reality and one we must live with in leadership. I think it is important not to confuse this issue (lack of grace) with an appropriately higher standard for leaders. Leaders are called to a higher standard and need to be held accountable to that. When they fail, they should be removed from leadership — but I think (hope) that there is still room for grace. The grace of common decency, the grace of forgiveness, the grace of healing community.
(2) HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SPECIAL CATEGORY
If sexual sin generally is a big one, homosexuality is 1000 times worse. The truth is, within evangelicalism, it is very much an unforgivable sin.
(3) LACK OF EXPERIENCE
In fairness to everyone involved, no one has navigated through this before and a lot of mistakes were made.
(4) REALLY BAD ADVICE FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES
I think this is the biggest issue. I think frankly the church was given terrible counsel and advice. I think they were given advice from someone (and someones) who didn’t take the time to really understand the church and instead ran a play book based on denominational practice and institutional priority over people and relationships. Part of this is just speculation because the main consultant the church worked with refused to talk to me or share his perspective with at all. But this is my sense.