A religious organization/church or what have you…. has certain doctrines, both theological doctrines and doctrines that are pragmatically applicable to every day life and situations.
I attended church with my family, every Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday evenings. We attended and those who were baptized and old enough, became members of a conservative Mennonite church. When I was baptized and accepted into membership at the age of 18, that membership allowed for some “perks”. I could teach Sunday school, serve on a organization/group board, I participated in a long drawn out process of nailing down what the church stood for, what we hoped for in the future and how we planned on reaching out to the community. We finalized a creed, and a constitution of our beliefs and doctrine, though we tried our best to stay away from doctrine, and stay more into what we interpreted the Word of God, to be.
As a member, before I asked for membership, and on that day when I was accepted into membership, I made a vow to follow the teachings of the church and the teachings of Christ, as a condition of that membership. The Membership then, stood as a congregation to approve the request for membership and they too made a vow to me, to show by example and gentle guidance, what our church stood for and what we as conservative Mennonites believed and applied directly to our lives. I realized I was gay when I was 30 years old. I had attended a Mennonite/Anabaptist mission based Bible college, had served for a year in the Appalachian mountains of East Ky and WV, with Discipleship Ministries through Eastern Mennonite Missions. I had taught Sunday school, Bible school, had served as a worship leader, song leader, and served on several committees such as Helping Hands and Secret Sisters and more. I had dedicated my life to Christ and I kept my vows about abiding by the doctrine of the church and the ways that the church interpreted Scripture.
Mennonites, most in conservative church’s, still practice shunning according to Scripture. Now, I had nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins within that church.
When I realized I could no longer, in good faith, keep my vows and accept myself for who I was, I voluntarily withdrew my membership.
This allowed for me to continue attending church there and kept the heartbreak that shunning causes for all concerned, from happening. When my family members talk to me about homosexual sex being a sin, they do so out of a true fear for my salvation and a sincere desire to make sure we all get to Heaven. The same goes with the membership of that church. They approach me on a solid base of love for me, and they do so in such a way that I FEEL that love.
If I became a member of a club, and stayed a member of good standing in that club, but after a time, considered some of their practices no longer for me… I would withdraw my membership, or be kicked out.. and rightfully so.
It appalls me that this country has come so far into insanity…that we believe that we, as individuals, have a right to insist that the majority, should give way to the minority. I am not talking civil rights here… I am speaking out about the issues raised in this article. What goes on in the mind of someone who no longer believes or behaves in a way that they vowed to do, who suddenly thinks that because they no longer believe as their organization does, that the organization change for them? It makes no sense. If I don’t shop at Sam’s Club, it would be stupid of me to pay the annual membership fees. If you are a part of a religious entity and you find that you can no longer uphold the doctrine and practices of that organization, then you SHOULD leave! And if you don’t leave voluntarily, then that organization has every right to boot your butt out of there!
It’s those who insist the loudest, that people change for them…that tarnishes the LGBT community. Fight for equal rights, DEMAND equal rights, but you have no right to insist that a religious entity accommodate your beliefs that no longer fits what the organization believes and stands for. Yes, it takes personal integrity to admit to no longer believing the same as the organization you joined and leaving that organization. If you can’t, in good conscience, honor your vows, then go somewhere, where you can. It really is just that simple.