I remember watching a young man, college age, giving a passionate plea to share Jesus. To share Jesus with college students, with the outsiders, with people different than myself. He was pleading for my church, The United Methodist Church, to be a place of inclusion for all people. I remember I cried hearing his words and seeing his passion.
And now J.J. Warren has made his plea to people like him – queer people around the world – to not give up on God or on the Church. A plea to reclaim their faith and their place in the Church. I am not a queer person. I’m a cis white women who is very straight. I have queer people in my life who I love. And I cried reading this book.
You see, I don’t think you have to believe one particular way about human sexuality to read Reclaiming Church. While the book is written primarily for queer kids who have grown up in the church and have felt excluded and pushed out, I think Warren’s passion and scriptural explanations can be helpful for people of faith who find themselves wanting to understand. Wanting to understand how to be a better ally. Wanting to understand “the other side” who is fighting for full inclusion of LGTBQIA+ persons in The United Methodist Church. Wanting to understand how people even begin to understand Scripture in a way that does not condemn same sex relationships. Wanting to understand their own family member’s struggle.
What I love about Reclaiming Church is that Warren is not calling for people to leave God, Church, or Scripture behind. He is calling us all to hold tight to the goodness of God, the hoped for community of the Church, and the truth of Scripture. He is calling us to draw near to God and to each other.
When the people saw themselves for the first time, they felt shame and this shame caused them to be terrified of what God might do, so they tried to hide from God. When they looked at each other, when they truly saw what they were, they were horrified that God couldn’t love them – but God knew the whole time. …though we may have written off God out of fear we are loved and nothing will ever change that. … There’s no need to fear God or our true selves any longer because God’s love for us casts out even this fear. It’s time to let God in and love ourselves in the process.Reclaiming Church, pgs. 44-45
Reclaiming Church is calling us all to love. To God’s love. To loving others. To loving self.
And love is always worth it.