You Are Included! (Heretic’s Guide)

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Following is taken from the weekly Heretic’s Guide to the Bible lectionary study. Special thanks to David Ackerman, author of Beyond the Lectionary, for providing this study.

Who is excluded in today’s church?  For many years, women, people of color, and gays and lesbians were actively excluded from full participation in the church’s life.  While we have made strides in our society toward inclusion, significant barriers still exist.  Women are still denied full ministerial status in some Christian traditions and even in those that do the balance of leadership continues to tip toward male-dominance.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once lamented that the most segregated hour of the week is Sunday morning, and even now, fifty years after he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, we must admit that far too little has changed.  As I write this, the Rev. Frank Schaefer is facing the prospect of getting defrocked over his support of gay and lesbian unions in the United Methodist Church.

While we may have come far in the Christian church in terms of inclusion, we still must confess that we have a long way to go. A challenge that I would offer today for preachers or other leaders in churches is to see that we have a clear Biblical mandate for inclusion.  It’s not just the cool thing on today’s political landscape.  It’s imbedded in scripture, embodied in our tradition from our earliest Council and the very foundation of Christian beginnings.  Epiphany is not just a nice time of thinking about the light of a star and the Christ child getting some neat gifts.  It’s about the full inclusion of the people of God everywhere.  As we consider some different readings this year, hopefully this will provide our churches with an opportunity to see this truth more plainly and celebrate it more fully than we might otherwise do.

Click to check out the full version of Heretic’s Guide to the Bible Blog HERE

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About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He has a memoir on faith, family and parenting called PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date, and Hachette published his first hardcover book, "postChristian: What's left? Can we fix it? Do we care?" in 2014. His first novel, "Blood Doctrine," has been optioned by a Hollywood production company for a possible TV series.

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  • Steve

    How about some scripture to back it up?

  • Jimmy Kinkade

    “Expel the immoral brother.” – The Bible

    • Tony

      So how do you define ‘immoral’?

    • Oswald Carnes

      Okay. You’re gone.

  • Tony

    Well said, Christian. I do think that people are generally afraid of any person or situation that is ‘different’, mainly because it pushes them outside their comfort zone. They simply don’t know how to cope with things that are outside their limited vision, especially when this is reinforced by misinterpreted scriptures. To reply to Steve who has already contributed, Jesus was the ultimate includer of the minorities. The first person He appeared to after the Resurrection was a woman. He let women near Him, he let them touch Him. He incorporated the outcasts of society in His group of disciples – Matthew the Tax Collector (today’s equivalent of a parking warden), political exiles (Samaritans) and others too. See for examples. I can’t quote the exact scriptures of the many examples of Jesus’ inclusion policies, but I would imagine that given this as a starting point. Steve will be able to find them easily.

  • Tony

    And what ever gives churches the right to judge anyone? Are we encouraged by the Bible to not judge others? What someone else gets up to in their lives, and *especially* in the bedroom, is none of my business, and *certainly* not the Church’s!

  • Dave

    I’m so glad there’s conversation on this post. Thank you! Steve, I’m focusing on Acts 15:1-21 and Isaiah 56:3-5 here. Jimmy, I’m thinking you’re referring to 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 & 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11, which I examine on Propers 14 & 20 in “Beyond the Lectionary” and “The Bible You Don’t Know.” Tony, kudos! Thrilled by the conversation. Thanks everyone!

  • Tony

    What’s also quite an interesting question to try on any Church people is to say ‘please define ‘sin’ ‘. Doubtless they will trot out the usual ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin…’ quote, but what does that really mean? Usually it’s just that it’s something htey don’t like or are not comfortable with; however in the words of Don Francisco, ‘Just ‘cuz you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s a sin!’ The bottom line is sadly that if you ‘fit in’, in whatever way ‘they’ deem is required, then you’re welcome; if not, you’re not welcome. How sad is that….