As I stood and listened to the United Methodist Church General Conference delegates debate the worth and dignity of gay and lesbians, my heart broke, my tears flowed, and my mind cried out in pain for all my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Today, my church voted, once again, to declare that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and this time declined to add that “Christians disagree” about this issue.
My tears flowed for the pain the church has caused, and for the pain of no longer having a church I can call home. I cried for all those who were being assaulted and attacked by the church spiritually and emotionally. I cried for my friends and neighbors, my family members, and my community. And I felt shame for all those who are heterosexual and continue to oppress those who they fear and do not understand.
I was born and baptized as an infant into the United Methodist Church, as were many of my friends – gay and straight. I went to United Methodist summer camps and did volunteer work at a UM Mission in Kentucky. Like many youth, I left the church when I went off to college, started a career, got married, had children, but I found my way back to the church of my childhood, to a church I loved, to a church I could call home.
The United Methodist Church I returned to at that time was one of love, one that allowed me to form my own theology from my understanding of scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. But since that time, the church has become something I can no longer love.
My church has become spiritually violent. My church hurts people. My church is dishonest. It is hypocritical. It is heterosexist and homophobic. People die because of my church, both spiritually and physically.
Today, as I cried, I knew that Jesus wept too, for His body is broken and bleeding profusely.
Laura Montgomery Rutt