I was recently at a worship event. There was a young girl there, not long married who I was chatting to. She was serving and helping out. As we chatted I asked her if her husband lived in Ireland cause I’d not met him. “You mean my wife” she said.

I’ve know this beautiful girl for twenty years and she told me the worship leader on stage was happy to let her serve with him but the church she’d been part of this last twenty years now refuses since her marriage.

I felt deeply grieved. Not because she’s same sex attracted but because of the heart breaking rejection we the church are inflicting on her.

There was a sense of shame. But not in her: on me because I was ashamed to be part of a worldwide church that finds it so easy to cast the first stone at LGBTQ people whilst accepting obesity, gossip, slander, divorce and a millions other things very lightly.

And there was heartbreak too. Not her heart. No she’s found her lover. I felt like Gods heart is breaking for situations like this. I believe it grieves him deeply when our only response to challenging situations is rejection, separation and division.

For years this girl served in the very same church. It was only when she was open and transparent about her true self that she was ruled out.

If we create the environment that the only way people can feel accepted is to keep who we are secret then we have built a house of cards that will some day tumble down.

When Jesus passed through a place, freedom, healing and reconciliation followed in his wake. The marginalized were included and the weak and fragile made welcome. Those who didn’t fit, made others feel uncomfortable or were about to be stoned to death were released and made welcome. The acceptance and love came first, hearts and minds followed.

The only people Jesus attacked were the religious judging rule makers and the money grabbing cheats. In a church that loves drawing lines, creating membership lists so we know who’s in and who’s out and hierarchies were we get to decide who serves and who doesn’t, we need to be careful what side of the exclusion line we fall on. Because I know this Jesus was ALWAYS on the side of the marginalized and He said “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”.

Part of me has been afraid to post this because I fear being attacked by the guardians of the faith and defenders of the “right”

And so knowing I’m opening myself up to such assaults I say this. Yes attack me, exclude me and judge me but as you do, ask yourself which side of that line you’re standing on. The side with the stones in their hands or the side on the ground crying out for desperately needed mercy.

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