This is a guest post in response to the possible excommunication of John Dehlin and Kate Kelly
When Maya Angelou died, I went on a binge of collecting her quotes. Here's one I've been thinking a lot about:
"The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society."
Today's society is truly massive, powerful, and wounding. With such a crush of people, the constant struggle for resources and things, the scrambling for power--we find that it's good to have rules and laws to help us all get along. Society's laws are harsh and unyielding. Justice must be meted out, or anarchy will result.
But there must be an escape from this society of laws. It must exist alongside that rule-marking world, but not be of that world. As Maya Angelou suggested, it is love that heals society's wounds--the wounds created when laws are broken and punishment is doled out. Family and friends can provide that love. Love that continues despite any sort of rule-breaking, or rule-bending, behavior.
Shouldn't a church provide that love too? If a rule is broken--and every rule will surely be--shouldn't there be someone there to help us start over, and pick up the pieces? Shouldn't there be a place where mercy trumps justice, every time, for all time?
Didn't Christ say, "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice?" (Matt. 12:7)
But it seems that the church has become part of society. It seems that churches exist just to shore up secular laws and make society run more smoothly. Where is the focus on the individual? Where is the place where the person matters more than the program, or the law, or the principle? I long for such a place.
Kate and John and others like them (including myself) may have done wrong. We have broken the rules and laws of the church. But a church--Christ's church--should forgive us. Immediately. That's the entire purpose of the church. It is a place for the broken and the sinful. I am broken and sinful. Where is my place?