Is it okay?

From Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3: 28) Nonetheless, when we worship, we worship as separate races and ethnicities. My church is overwhelmingly straight, white and native English-speaking. While we advertise that we are welcoming of all races and ethnicities and sexual orientations, and indeed we would and do welcome people regardless of these classifications, the fact is we remain homogeneous. Consider this story from CNN about an integrated church.

The House of the Lord, which is nondenominational, has grown from about 2,000 and nearly all black when my wife and I joined to about 6,000 and at least 10 percent white when we moved away, by which time I had been ordained a deacon.

Full story. One in ten breaking the mold is really significant. But, man, can you imagine saying, “Well, 10% of the attorneys at my firm are women,” to indicate you welcomed women?

Is church different? Is it okay to be segregated on Sunday?

3 thoughts on “Is it okay?”

  1. can you imagine saying, “Well, 10% of the attorneys at my firm are women,” to indicate you welcomed women?

    Maybe, if you can imagine that there were as many successful firms that were 90% female as there were firms that were 90% male.

  2. That’s a really good point. The problem with Separate but Equal is not that separate but equal is impossible, it is that when it came to (comes to) education it is pretty much impossible.

    Perhaps SbutE is not impossible in church.

  3. Jim, there are several layers to your question — a very good one!

    Josh & Jim, I think separate but equal churches are possible.

    You asked if it’s ok to be segregated in church on Sunday. I followed your link to the article & picked up this sentence: “My church has become more diverse in part because its leaders and membership made a conscious choice to deal with the racial tensions common to our society.”

    I remember when a lesbian couple first came to one of our worship services. While visiting with them later that week in their home, and encouraging them to come back, one of them said, “Well, we were looking for a place where we would blend in.” Their hope was to find a congregation where other gay and lesbian couples openly explored and practiced their faith. I’m even guessing that it would have been comforting to see 10% of the congregation looking like same-sex couples. Of course if our friends are there in worship the next time a gay couple visits, that couple won’t feel alone. Meanwhile, as a congregation we need to wrestle with the social issues of the day that keep us divided.

    It seems the white author of this article happened upon a mostly black congregation whose worship spoke to him & in that moment there was “no longer black or white, slave or free, woman or man” — just a bunch of people bound together by something greater than the differences that might otherwise divide them.

    There are some places (like church) where we want to be with people who are like us. It’s easier to spot superficial differences than to look deeply enough to see what might connect us. I think especially for anyone who has been alienated from/by the church.

    Is it OK if we’re segregated in church on Sunday? Not if we’re intentionally keeping ourselves apart.

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