The Presbyterian Church (USA)—like many Christian denominations—has been starkly divided over the role of gays and lesbians in the church. It feels to many, as author Richard Mouw puts it, that the church is getting ready for "divorce court." Should the church split or stay together? The authors of these two articles—both Presbyterian, one liberal and one conservative—differ on many things, but they are in accord about whether unity—or schism—is the best way forward.
All of these [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah] died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make clear that they are seeking a homeland....they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, God has prepared a city for them.—Hebrews 11:13-16
Many contemporary Christians think the church is dispensable, that God is more easily accessed outside the limits and constraints of church structures. In my own salvation history, however, the church is central. I was introduced to Jesus Christ by the actions as well as the words of his followers. I have grown in the faith because others have taken the time to teach it to me.
Two groups have ministered to me in powerful ways in recent years. One is gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Presbyterians. The church has developed the bad habit of talking about this group as if it is a problem for the denomination. They have not been a problem for me. Quite the opposite: They have provided me with luminous examples of how to live a Christian life under very adverse conditions.