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"I don't know."
This was my answer every time I was asked.
When I was appointed as a delegate to synod the first week of March, and I was immediately asked about it, all I could say was, "I don't know."
When I got back to my church and informed my council of my appointment, it came up again. After the meeting an elder took me aside (you know, the parking-lot meeting) to get the inside scoop. Again I responded with, "I don't know."
When the program committee published the advisory committee assignments and I had to scroll to the very bottom of the page to find my name, I was faced with the same questions once more. And again my answer remained the same: "I don't know."
What do I know? You might wonder. Since that March Classis meeting, I now know every word of the 2020 Report of the Committee to Articulate a Foundation-laying Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality. I know every testimony within it. I know every word from every overture—every communication, every story, every conversation. I heard hours of dialogue in committee and hours more beyond our allotted time. I know the words of the majority report and the words of the minority report. I know the hours on the floor of synod, and I know the tension in the room. I know the sting of tears and the nervous laughter brought on by the comedic relief of our esteemed and unenviable clerk.
I now know all of this. I know the decision that was made. I know the count of the votes. And yet still I say, “I don't know.”
This time, my answer is not to the same questions. It’s not about whether unchastity means this or that, or what confessional status means. What I don't know this time is where we go from here. The gavel has fallen. The tension has broken. And yet we have only moved from one unclarity to another.
How do I minister to my LGBTQ congregants now? What about those who are sympathetic toward this? Will my inbox be filled with rescinded memberships when I get home? Will my ecumenical brothers and sisters in my neighborhood have heard? What will they think of me or my church? What about my unbelieving neighbors? Will they admire our conviction or disparage our walls or something else entirely? Where will those whose lives this affects go now? Will they still trust their pastor or their church with their intimate struggles?
I don't know. I don't know.
In the week immediately following Synod 2022, on three separate occasions, three separate men of an older (and wiser) persuasion reflected on their own unknowing. "The older I get, the less I know" is the crux of their comments.
A senior from my congregation quipped, "When I was 18, I could have filled volumes with all that I knew. But now? I'm not sure I could fill a single page."
Evidently, or at least anecdotally, the road of unknowing is not a lonely one.
And yet it's still uncomfortable.
I don't like not knowing.
And yet my God calls me to not know.
I don't know the day or hour when my faith will be realized.
I don't know all that will be on the list that Christ's blood will cover over.
I don't know the full power of the Holy Spirit.
The list of mysteries goes on.
But this summer, we made the list one thing shorter.
And as we exhaled that decision on a 20-minute delay, we inhaled another mystery. The mystery of "what now?"
And I don't know.