It happened again. Last Saturday, another well-educated, qualified, Jesus-loving seminary graduate was denied entrance to the ordination process in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is transgender. She is not the first transgender candidate to be denied entrance, and that is our church’s loss.
In its denial, the committee told her that enrolling her in the ordination process would be “detrimental” to the unity of the church. And they told her that they questioned her judgment, presumably because she had the gall to think that the committee might allow her to entrance. They were not able to see her unique gifts for ministry, her academic qualifications, or learn from her faith journey because they cared so much about whether she fit neatly into their preconceived notions of male and female.
Because the committee was unable to see the individual before them, we as a church lost out on a potentially fantastic minister. She was offering her time and talents to a church that is in desperate need of them. Rather than acknowledging and accepting her gracious offer, with apologies for the terrible hours and insufficient pay that most young pastors face, the church slammed the door in her face instead. And then told her she would be detrimental to the (fictional) unity of the church, as if she was the one being divisive.
So I’d like to know how the church, then, can even pretend to have any moral authority left. Christ’s Body is ever changing, growing, doing things we don’t expect, because it is a living thing. All living things are capable of growth and surprise. When we as a church act as discriminatory, or in some cases, even more discriminatory, than the world we are trying to morally lead, we can no longer claim to be an example of Christ’s inclusiveness, and we cut ourselves off from the living Body.