This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

The only issue?

Many Anabaptists in the United States have been in a separatist season, leaving one body of believers for another over LGBTQ inclusion. Separation is based on the idea that if our church is affiliated with a church or conference that differs from us, we are complicit. Should we not have fellowship with the neighboring church that allows divorcees to serve on its board? Should we leave our conference because a couple of its member churches abandoned pacifism? What about that congregation that teaches doctrine that results in lavish lifestyles?

Lately it seems the only issue worth fighting over is homosexuality. There’s got to be more to life than that.

Mennonite Church USA has strong beliefs centered in Scripture. Yet not all churches embrace every tenet. Does this mean we should separate? God doesn’t favor marital divorce, but what about divorce among churches? One can say clearly, “I don’t agree with them,” but that doesn’t require erasing their names from the book of life, as if we had that authority to do so.

Anabaptists should model unity amid diversity, not separating and dividing. “What on heaven” are we going to do when we arrive in that new and diverse city and discover that those we had written off are there with us? Social distancing in heaven?

Be strong in your beliefs. Preach the Bible. Be unapologetic about your faith. But don’t separate and divide. Your faith can handle variance. There have always been issues to divide over, and there will always be a God who longs to bring us together.

Tim Schultz
Newfane, N.Y.

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