By Barton Gingerich
And so the General Conference continues. I take some time away from tracking legislation and scanning Twitter (some delegates tweet so much I wonder how they pay attention or get any work done) to take lunch at the Love Your Neighbor coalition’s “Tabernacle.” For a traditional researcher for the orthodox Renewal and Reform Coalition, some may think I was entering the belly of the revisionist beast. Granted, I was not “affirmed and welcomed” as cheerily as full-on rainbow-stoled activists, but I was treated very kindly by LYN members (especially by MFSA workers from DC). Soon after I finished my rice and beans, the first ever lunch-series speakers addressed all the audience members on “Where are all the young people?”
First up to pontificate was pastor Brad Laurvick, head delegate of the Rocky Mountain conference. He cajoled the UMC to seek “relevance and relationship to young people,” since “more and more young are spiritual but not religious.”
“What are they saying to us?” he asked.
Laurvick argued that these youth claim a “deeper unspoken reality: ‘I’m spiritual but I’m not into dogma, institutional BS, and excluding people.” He declared, “Religion needs to be culturally redefined.” He touted “community, accountability, and the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.” He distinguished between church work and the work of the church, arguing that the latter is what young people want. “Changing our structure won’t feed the hungry; it’s just church work…Simply discussing human sexuality won’t revitalize the life of the church…Inclusion is the true work of the church.”
Laurvick was followed by Tyler Sit, LGBT outreach coordinator of the World Student Christian Movement and seminarian at Candler School of Theology. “Right now I’m not seeing a lot of young adults getting grace from the church,” he complained, “but we are being spoken to by God.” He argued, “The church is inviting young people to a building with walls but no roof…Our church needs to be a building with a roof but no walls.” He added, “Young people don’t like being put into boxes.”
The words from these outspoken advocates for the LGBT agenda indicate several important notions we can learn from. First, the post-Sesame Street generation still suffers in the throes of intellectual, moral, and theological impoverishment – all under the broad title “relativism.” Second, the itching ears of theological revisionists find solace in young speakers agreeing with their aberrant sexual ethics. Third, the LGBTQ/I crowd fails to realize that William James and his pragmatism are bunk. Latching on to a position of cultural consensus and calling that truth is total nonsense (O Athanasius, how we need the likes of thee!). For every few souls that float listlessly along with societal currents, there are some who also cry for authenticity. If we really are the church and accept the truth passed down by the saints, we need to hold to those teachings, especially when they are inconvenient. I don’t want to join a country club of rabid political activists or spineless moral cowards. If the UMC sells out to the slick and rosy image of homosexuality as portrayed in “Glee,” how am I supposed to explain the martyrs that suffer on the rack or burning at the stake—the apostles themselves that would not bow in worship to Caesar since they themselves witnessed the risen Christ? I tell you: I’d rather have those who preach, live, and suffer for God and His Word than all the guilt-relaxing homosexual advocacy and affirmation in the world. Of course, if the church is not the particular (thus, not-composed-of-everyone) nation of God’s redeemed through the blood of Christ and is instead a club of social commentators, what I’ve been saying all along is nonsense.