At this moment, why is the Baptist General Association of Virginia Executive Board talking about human sexuality? Yes, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship recently released their Illumination findings. And the CBF faces criticism from the right and the left for it. Right now, who cares?
An ideal practice of theology by the church is one that depends on the illumination provided by various sources of light through which the Spirit helps us see and diverse voices through which the Spirit helps us hear what the mind of Christ is regarding our faith and practice for time and place.
The unrecognized and unacknowledged colonialist justifications for the CBF’s decision are disturbing. Implementing this policy solely because it reflects the congregational opinions of churches within the CBF would provide a much more understandable justification. Utilizing the beliefs and practices of global Christians in order to maintain a position of power, however, perpetuates a colonialist impulse that Christians have been subject to for far too long.
If I read my Bible correctly (and if I read my American history correctly), the only real hope we have for reconciliation isn’t actually through reading our Bible correctly. And it isn’t through winning an argument with someone who disagrees with us. Reconciliation only seems to happen in one way — through carrying crosses.
I do not expect a denominational body to reinforce all aspects of my conscience any more than I expect a congregation to match my convictions in every way. Most people don’t expect a perfect match — just space to grow together. So I’m not bothered by a conviction that differs from mine. I am bothered by the centrality given to a conviction that makes no space.
Our congregation went through 18 months of intense study, prayer and dialogue about LGBTQ inclusion, and we have the scars to show for it. And we would have had scars regardless of which way the decision went. But we are better for choosing the good over the easy.
Illumination makes things clearer for those willing to look where the light is shining. And these are a few lessons I’ve learned from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Illumination Project.
The notion that men will be distracted by breastfeeding may say more about the over-sexualization of women’s bodies than about the alleged inappropriateness of breastfeeding in public.