The Violence of Tradition

Persons who argue for and practice the exclusion of persons who are LGBTQ+ from full participation in the life of the church based on the ‘traditional’ teachings of the church would do well to recall that most of the history of the ‘traditional’ church has been an institutionalized reign of terror on women, people of color, persons of other religions and no religion, persons of the Christian religion who were considered heretics, and indigenous people.

Many of the ‘traditional’ teachings of the church were created to control the masses, perpetuate the power of the elite, and justify the subjugation of other people and the natural world. Inquisitions, executions, torture, slavery, the doctrine of discovery, oppressive patriarchy, genocides of indigenous persons and persons of other religions, and the devastation of our ecological community are all part of the legacy of the ‘tradition’ of the church.

The fact that many in our churches want to extend and perpetuate an institutionalized reign of terror on our LGBTQ+ siblings based on the ‘traditional’ teachings of an institution responsible for the death and suffering of tens of millions of people and one that is arguably contributing to the sixth great extinction of life on earth is hardly a model for building the Beloved Community, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus and the way of love, grace, and justice in this world.

If the unity of the institutionalized church is built upon the exclusion of persons who are LGBTQ+, then that is simply institutionalized bigotry, and institutionalized bigotry cannot be the body of Christ for a broken world.

As my own United Methodist Church discerns whether to accept a ‘traditional plan’ that will continue to limit the full acceptance, participation, and leadership of our LGBTQ+ siblings in the life of our churches, we must be aware of how much there is in our tradition from which we ought to repent, including our tradition of not truly loving our LGBTQ+ neighbors.

About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. He is the Executive Director of the Leadership, Education, and Development (LEaD) Hub North America of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and an Oklahoma Humanities State Scholar. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University or the United Methodist Church.
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