Being inclusive does not (should not!) cultivate a spirit of exclusivity of others. Sounds simple, right? Apparently some think it’s not so easy. So, let me break it down.
I recently had a meeting about a group I am a part of. We are an inclusive group rooted in PCUSA theology where we uplift all people, regardless of race, age, gender, sex, social status, wealth, etc. We don’t always get it right, but we try. We’ve had some people ask to join who aren’t necessarily part of the PCUSA. They don’t follow our theology, and they have been exclusive in the past with their theology. So, do we let them in?
As an LGBTQ person, my first reaction is a gut one: they have hurt me and my people for so long, why should I let them com to play in our space? I want to respond from my hurt because it’s tangible and its real and it’s still pretty raw on many levels.
But the reality is, I claim to be a Christian. Which, if you actually take that to task, is hard. Meaning: I have to love my neighbor, especially when it’s hard and those neighbors have spit on my face and told me I am unlovable and that I am less of a person. I still have to love my neighbor.
So, all this means: Yes. Join our organization. Here are the guidelines we have agreed upon which you are choosing to opt into by being a part of this: you have to be inclusive. You can opt in at any point, but opting out is your choice. You don’t get to throw your exclusivity around. And this does not mean you don’t get to practice your exclusivity, but you’ve opted in to our inclusive space, meaning, you’ve opted in to be inclusive while you’re here. My inclusivity does not negate your hinder your exclusivity. You are free to take it elsewhere.
Even though you’ve spit in my face, you can be included. Even though you have told me that I am less than, I will see you as my equal and you can be included. Even though you believe me unlovable, I’m gonna love the hell out of you.
When asked what the greatest commandment of all was, our Lord and Savior, sweet grown baby Jesus said:
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, CEB)
And friends, I love myself a lot, so get ready.