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Last week, I used this space for a last lead-in to Family & Friends Day (which was a great day, by the way!). That trumped the Donnie McClurkin controversy which was just breaking as we “went to press.” But folks are still talking about it. In fact, if you google “McClurkin and Gray,” you will see dozens of articles, editorials, and blogs on the subject. Unfortunately, most of them are written by misguided fundamentalist homophobes, who are crying “Foul!” on McClurkin’s behalf. So here’s my two-cents.
Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love,
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
When we asunder part it gives us inward pain,
But we shall still be joined in heart and hope to meet again.
With Family & Friends Day coming up at Imani, I have necessarily been giving a lot of thought to those concepts and to ways that they intersect with things related to church life. One thing that stands out, immediately, is that I serve a population a relatively large percentage of which has had the heartbreaking experiences of being disowned by, or distanced from, family and of losing friends. The LGBT community - and LGBT’s from “mainstream” church backgrounds in particular - know the pain and trauma of broken connections, loss of community, and rejection by those we thought would be friends and family for life.
If there is a bright side to that experience, it is that it teaches us that family is not exclusively determined by blood ties, any more than friendship is limited to those with whom we have long histories. That, in turn, opens our hearts to receive the gifts of de facto family relationships, truly unconditional love, and friendships in which differences are embraced, not deal-breakers. At our best, we learn to give those gifts as well.