When the Methodist church voted this week to uphold its opposition to gay marriage and gay clergy, I though immediately of Jarell Wilson, who started his interview by saying, “I am a black gay man living in the south, and I am a Christian.” More specifically, he is a Methodist.
Jarell talks about the weight of carrying all of these identities “in a society that is not welcoming of two-thirds of my identity.” Yet he also talks about the beauty he sees and experiences through each aspect of who he is, and the communities he is a part of.
He says, “I try to remember that I am loved and that for some reason, God wants me to be this way.”
I think about Jarell’s experience, the church that he loves, and the church that loves him back at arm’s length.
This morning I sat in a dialogue group with a man who was eager to share that he walked away from the church and became an agnostic because of the hypocritical behavior he saw in the Christians around him. There have been times I have wanted to do the same.
But humans are broken. Humans manage to mess up most everything they put their hands on in one way or another. My understanding of faith is centered in love. And just because humans fail to manifest that love in the institution of the church, doesn’t mean the faith is flawed. It just means that humans are.
It is, like everything else in the world, complex. But when I have trouble sorting out the issues of the day, I always return to human stories. I try to understand how decisions impact our brothers and sisters of the world. And I lean toward love.
Jarell’s story is thoughtful, witty and relevant. You’ll hear evidence at roughly 3:30 in the recording that Jarell and I have a fundamental difference on the presence of bacteria vs. fungi in yoghurt…but we managed to move past that. I enjoyed listening to the interview again, and I hope you will too. You can listen to Jarell’s interview here.