I do not mourn that the people who want to more openly commit spiritual violence against our LGBTQ2S+ siblings are now leaving the United Methodist Church. They have shown over and over again that their hearts are hardened, and they have done significant harm to persons who are LGBTQ2S+ and their allies. They have excluded them from the full life and ministry of the church, made charges and complaints against them, put them on trial, and damaged and ended persons’ ordained ministries in the United Methodist Church in their attempts to enforce discriminatory practices in the denomination. I cannot weep over their decision to now leave the denomination after the very real harm they have brought to so many who were simply looking for full acceptance by the church they loved, only to be met with rejection and exclusion from hardened hearts.
I do mourn that the persons who are leaving the United Methodist Church have chosen to harden their hearts, and I also mourn for the LGBTQ2S+ children and youth in their congregations who are now much less likely to find any semblance of acceptance and affirmation in their church communities. My main concern about congregations disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church is that in these churches the gloves will likely now be totally off when it comes to the spiritual abuse of persons who are LGBTQ2S+. I am especially concerned for the children and youth in these churches who will now feel even more rejected by the community from which they long for acceptance. These beloved children and youth will be much more vulnerable to despair and death by suicide surrounded by persons in their church community who are not affirming of their sacred worth and full humanity. I cannot weep for those who are leaving the United Methodist Church to more openly discriminate against and exclude our LGBTQ2S+ siblings, but I do weep for the ones they have harmed and will continue to harm.
Many moderates in the United Methodist Church have sought to compromise with with those who want to continue to harm our LGBTQ2S+ siblings in order to avoid a split within our denomination, and they have done so for a variety of reasons. They have not wanted to diminish the connectional power of the church or its global reach. More pragmatically, they have not wanted to face the budgetary implications of a schism or a splintering denomination. Quite often this compromise is done for the sake of church unity, but when the preservation of church unity contributes to ongoing harm and spiritual violence against our LGBTQ2S+ siblings, then church unity functions as an idol to which we sacrifice true progress towards justice for all.
Church unity in a denomination that has harmed and continues to harm persons is not a value to be preserved at the price of of sacrificing justice for the vulnerable among us. The fact that this continued harm has been done in the name of Jesus is doubly tragic as we have taken a name that should be a symbol of love and justice for all and turned it into a weapon of spiritual violence and abuse against persons whose arms were outstretched to the church for an embrace, but who have instead received rejection and condemnation.
I cannot weep, and I will not weep for those who are now leaving the United Methodist Church so they can continue to discriminate against persons who are LGBTQ2S+. I cannot weep, and I will not weep for those who have turned the name of Jesus into a weapon of discrimination and exclusion as opposed to a beacon of love for all people. I can weep, and I do weep for all who have been harmed by the United Methodist Church and by the persons who are now disaffiliating from it. And I also weep for Jesus, whose name has been so dishonored in its misuse to harm others.