Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

“All Are Welcome” Is a Lie

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SRS_Come-as-you-areI still remember being a small boy in the south when it was a big deal for our church to allow people to dress casually, so the “come just as you are” philosophy of church is not lost on me. Still, while that was a worthwhile corrective to a previous snobbery, it was never really true. We do not, for instance, allow people to come to church naked, and most Sunday mornings when I wake up that’s exactly how I are!

The same is true for the “All Are Welcome” refrain that is a popular adornment on church signs and websites. Just as “Come as you are” translates to “You could probably wear a clean t-shirt” the statement “all are welcome” actually means “we don’t think homosexuality is a sin”. It’s a sort of code.

But it’s a pernicious lie to think that if we welcome the GLBT community we welcome everyone. It’s particularly problematic when already furnished with the knowledge that condemning an identity as sinful is exclusive to welcoming persons with that identity. Make no mistake “All are Welcome” churches believe in sin, and around sins like chauvinism, racism, oppression, overconsumption of resources, and literalism they are often downright intolerant, they have no choice!

It’s a fact of life, a holdover from the law of non-contradiction in Logic 101 that you cannot support two mutually exclusive positions on the same issue.

You cannot have a church which is wholly welcoming to and approving of Young Earth Creationists, without excluding the vast majority of practicing scientists and science-lovers.

You cannot welcome black people and also white supremacists.

Heck you can’t even hold service with a young missional experimental church guy like me and a ardent liturgical traditionalist if your standard for welcome is set at the level of approval without any expressed condemnation.

Any of these groups could be welcomes together to a table for discussion of their disagreements. But we are kidding ourselves if we believe that the table can be neutral ground, or that if it were it would be truly welcoming to either community.

And what of those people who are simply creepy? People who innocently or not, make everyone around them feel unsafee. When someone hits on every woman he sees, do we welcome him or the women?

VisiI say we embrace the problem. I say we tear down the misleading All Are Welcome signs and hold up signs that say “Homophobia is NOT Welcome here” perhaps with a small print that says “(homophobes permitted in a trial basis if they can keep their mouths shut)”

I saw we wipe clean the meaningless church mission statements that say every church is “biblically grounded” and “Outward focused” and say things like “This church loves street evangelism” or “this church thinks everyone goes to heaven” instead.

I saw we stop making plays at being welcoming to all, and get comfortable with the fact that we specialize by necessity. Because there are some people God loves who don’t feel comfortable around others, and that’s okay.


Written by RyanGaffney

September 2, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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