One of my favourite things about this blog is when a comment comes in response to a post that far surpasses the original post in insight, wisdom… and even on occasion in wit.

It happened yesterday in response to “Listening To My Opponent” https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/listening-to-my-opponent/. The comment came from:

November 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm Bruce Bryant-Scott  who wrote:

For the Family Values evangelicals the issue of creating the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade is paramount. For them it is quite literally a question of life versus death, and is as important as Civil Rights was, if not more so.

I suspect that no matter how much Jones listens to them, unless he were to back down on pro-choice perspectives he will be anathema to them. This is not a matter of respecting their pro-life opinions, it is really about being in line with those opinions and demonstrating that one will vote to confirm Supreme Court justices who will view the decision in 1973 as wrong and unconstitutional.

While there are undoubtedly many Roy Moore true believers in the evangelicals’ camp, there are probably just as many, if not more, who believe his accusers and realize that Moore was stalking eighth-graders. The thing is, he’s going to vote in the Senate the “right” way, and so they have made the cold calculus around sin and concluded that they have to support him over Jones. Hate the sinner, but love the voting intentions, eh?

I have met this conundrum in the church and do not know how to deal with the challenge.

How does the church continue to embrace and welcome those for whom there is an irreducible line in the sand which, if you cross, they immediately consider themselves excluded?

When the Anglican Church drew the circle wide enough to include people where were remarried after divorce, there were people who said, “If that remarried divorced person is inside the circle, then you have excluded me.” When the Anglican church drew the circle to include women in the priesthood, there were people who said, “If you include that woman as a priest, you have excluded me.” When the Anglican church extended the circle of fellowship to fully embrace people in same-gender relationships, there were some members of the church who said, “If you welcome that person, I am not welcome.”

In every one of these cases, people left the church. The Anglican church was diminished. Certainly, we lost faithful members; we lost financial support, and energy for ministry. But, more important than any of that, we lost the beauty of diversity because, for some people, we had extended our borders to include too much diversity. It is an odd Catch-22 – the more we have sought to be fully inclusive, the more some people have found themselves feeling thoroughly excluded.

I had always hoped that if we listened carefully we might be able to stay together in spite of differences of opinion, even on important issues. But Bruce is right, there seem to be times when listening is not enough. If the only way you can feel heard is if I get the same answer as you on a contentious issue and if I cannot in conscience agree, it does not matter how carefully I listen it is going to be difficult for us to remain together in community.

The day may have come to surrender my naive idealism. When someone declares, “This inclusion is a bridge too far”, I have a welcome problem that it may not be possible to solve no matter how hard I try to keep open the door on my end of the bridge.