I love it when my tribe looks outside of itself for wise voices, inspiration and a different perspective.
So, it’s been good in the last couple of weeks to have been able to pick up on one of those intersections along the way.
Jay Bakker of Revolution Church in NYC has been speaking to JustSalvos– the Social Justice Department of The Salvation Army in Australia. Jay crops up around 5.30 talking about grace, inclusiveness & sexuality, but the whole vid is worth a look & listen.
Some might imagine this to be a strange alliance; Jay is a straight yet gay affirming, tattooed and pierced “outlaw preacher”, and The Salvation Army is….well…what are we?
If you are in the US, and all you ever knew about The Salvation Army was picked up from bits and pieces you’d found on the web, you might well (erroneously) think The Salvation Army was a right wing fundie organisation who puts a lot of time, energy and cash into pushing a homophobic agenda. (I explored this a little on a couple of earlier posts, “Salvation Army on NPR…some thoughts” and “Sally Bash”) If – on the other hand – you had a small degree of personal experience of The Sally Army you’d struggle to even recognise the way it is occasionally perceived in some quarters.
The reality is quite different.
Does The SA hire hire gay people? Of course it does. Do we have gay people as part of our worshipping communities? Sure. Do we have friends and family members who are gay? Yes – many of us do.
The Salvation Army is a movement that started life – influenced by Jesus – radically reaching out to the marginalised and in large part that remains the case. Sometimes, though, we do need to remind ourselves of that, and in kind of a way Jay is a reminder of that heritage. The alliance I mentioned doesn’t seem at all strange to me. After all, early Salvation Army meetings were full of people who weren’t welcome in the Churches of the day, and may well not have been seen dead in their buildings given the choice!
Like many/most Christian tribes we’re on a journey when it comes to our interpretation of and response to human sexuality, and there is no longer absolute consensus at grass roots within our global ranks about quite where we stand on this issue. The place where we are today may well not be where we are in the future.
Our current engagement with people like Jay…and Andrew Marin… and Tony Campolo and countless others has to say something about at least our willingness to find ourselves in a place that reaches out to our LGBT brothers and sisters with love and grace.