I recently read an article in the Bloomington paper about a church bringing in a guy to speak on campus. His name is Doug Wilson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Wilson_(theologian) and he is speaking about sex. He is known to say and think some interesting (crazy) things about the history of slavery and about women. I thought I would write a response to the paper from a view point of a pastor that disagrees with Doug Wilson and for the church bringing him on campus to speak. It will most likely not get in the paper so I thought I would post it here for some to read.
Here it is:
My parents starting going to church as young parents of three young children. I recall the chaos of Sunday morning, the rushing and yelling were very prominent. All five of us piled into the station wagon, running late, once again. As we entered the church, twenty minutes late, we had to squeeze past people in the balcony. All eyes were on my family and heads were shaking, disapproving of our tardiness. Once settled we sat and listened to one guy talk (a lot). Sometimes we stood and repeated lyrics written by a small group of people in the 70′s and 80′s. The whole experience seemed one sided. The small group decided what we needed and we took what they gave us.
Then on Sunday nights we all went to youth group. The format was always the same: fun/dangerous/angst filled game (dodge ball), a serious talk by one person, and lastly a snack. The talks usually included things about not having sex and not listening to secular music, with no room for questions.
One night at youth group, we got to have a discussion. It seemed like a rare treat to be able to have a voice in the conversation. We were encouraged to share the lyrics of our favorite secular music. We were hesitant but so excited to get to discuss that we walked right into the trap laid out for us. One by one we shared our favorite ACDC and Guns and Roses lyrics. The pastor wrote them on the overhead projector for all to see. Then he spent the next hour explaining why these lyrics and the ears that listened to this music were evil. The disappointment in the room was huge. We had not been invited into a discussion but instead set up to get a talking to.
This upbringing has definitely scarred me but has made for many great stories. Over the years, I have found others that have questions and want to be part of a discussion. Others that want embrace the mystery of the gospels and what they might mean for our lives. Others that have struggled with what our lives would look like if we lived more simply, loved more generously and listen to other voices. I have also had many conversations with others who flat out disagree with my faith. All of these discussions have made me realize that I have many more questions than I do answers and I am alright with that.
This Friday Doug Wilson has been invited by a local church to speak on campus. Reading the article and researching Doug Wilson brought me back to my youth. To the place where one single voice dominates the discussion and where there is absolutely no room for difference of thoughts or opinions.
Many people will hear about Doug Wilson on campus and be reminded of all their bad church experience. This one single loud voice may confirm their thoughts, feelings, and anger towards the church.
There are many different voices within the Christian church that disagree with Wilson and others like him. There are different voices in the church that may not be as loud and obnoxious but are still present.
I imagine it like a wedding where your drunk uncle starts fights, hits on women, and says inappropriate things, before the cops show up to arrest him. It is easy to forget about what that night was about. The quiet promises made to love one another, the sweet soft embraces, the hands joining all around the room, in remembrance of their love for one another. The drunk loud uncle has stolen the memories of the real meaning of that night.
When we hear people profess things in Jesus’ name, let’s not allow that one single loud voice to dominate the discussion. Instead, let us read and reread the sayings of Jesus. These things should challenge the church. What do we say, what did Jesus say? In those areas we don’t know the answer we should not just allow one loud voice in the church to fill in the blanks. We should together embrace the mystery of the things to which we don’t have answers. Let’s look past the loud voices and seek after the many quiet voices that have something they have been waiting to say.
Pastor of Sacred Heart Church