Same day, another quote (for the day): evangelical blogger and author of the new book Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church Rachel Held Evans tells Candace Chellew-Hodge,
LGBT people have a lot to teach Christians about sexuality and culture, but also how to be decent Christians. . . . It’s hard to storm out of your church because you don’t like how the worship is going when you know people who have stuck with church even when they’ve been called horrible names and treated terribly. That challenges me.
People ask why I don't just leave a church that has trashed me, repudiated me, made my life and that of my husband a living hell. Rachel Held Evans is why: what she says is why.
I belong to the church I chose as a young teen, at a great personal cost, as much as the people who want to see my backside do. It's my family. I chose it, and I refuse to be run off by people who have no more claim to ownership of my religious family than I myself do.
And it's every bit as imperfect as any other family. Despite their imperfections, family is where we originate, where we come from, what shapes us (in its various forms and mutations, I hasten to add) from the time we're born.
I have never believed in the American myth that I can make myself anew by pretending I don't come from someplace, that I don't originate in some family somewhere. Certainly I'm not masochistic and foolish enough to sit around and accept abuse from my family, whether biological, chosen, or religious.
But to say this is not to pretend that family is not there. It's not to pretend that there's some perfect version of family, either biological, chosen, or religious, that I can find by ditching the family I happen to have been dealt by the cards of fate or providence, or the religious family I chose as a young teen. I don't believe in that myth. I don't believe there's that kind of perfection in any religious institution.
Instead, I believe in trying to stick with, work with, quarrel and fight with, the family I happen to have. Recognizing as I do so that I myself am far from perfect, and that I work out my salvation by bedeviling my family, insofar as it tries to shut itself of me, with questions about how it can possibly behave as it does and expect to convince people it's any kind of meaningful family, as it slams the door in the faces of problematic people and natters on about a love it never seeks to embody.
The photo of Rachel Held Evans is from the Religion Dispatches Interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge linked above.