Letters November/December 2017

Children of God first

In a world seemingly on a roller-coaster ride of sexual reinvention, I am extremely grateful for the articles on sexuality from Willy Reimer and Thaleia Sawatzky (God, sex, me and you, July/August 2016). Their unwavering commitment to the truth of Scripture, the lordship of Christ, open communication and loving compassion for all people is exactly what we need today in all the church.

Congregations that stick to these principles will always be a “safe environment” for those struggling with gender identity or same-sex attraction. Our culture says our identity is based on our sexuality, but we must always remember that our identity is really as children of God.

Thank you very much for your ministry.

Allan Dowdeswell

Saskatoon

Distressing misunderstanding

Re: “The gospel calls us to be unsettled” (Viewpoint, September/October 2017)

I am an avid reader of your magazine and enjoy it each month. This month I was surprised to see that you had included an article of a person who said that he lived with a partner and three children. 

I thought the article was great, but was a bit disturbed when I read the acknowledgement and had to wonder whether his partner was someone he was not married to.

I was surprised that a paper from my denomination, which I love, would present something that in my mind is not acceptable.

I called your office and was told that his “partner” was his wife.

I was satisfied with that answer, but I am concerned about the appearance of something that can quite easily be misunderstood.

Thanks for the great articles on discipleship this month.

Sylvia Martens

Swift Current, Sask.

 

Mennonite Brethren Herald welcomes your letters of 150–200 words on issues relevant to the Mennonite Brethren church, especially in response to material published in the Herald. Please include name, address and phone number, and keep your letters courteous and about one subject only. We will edit letters for length and clarity. We will not publish letters sent anonymously, although we may withhold names from publication at the request of the letter writer and at our discretion. Publication is subject to space limitations. Letters also appear online. Because the Letters column is a free forum for discussion, it should be understood that letters represent the position of the letter writer, not necessarily the position of the Herald or the Mennonite Brethren church. Send letters to mbherald@mbchurches.ca.

One Comment on “Letters November/December 2017

  1. Here’s one of the core commitments of the MB Herald: to “share the life and story of the church by nurturing relationships among members and engaging in dialogue and reflection.” I like that this includes “nurturing relationships” along with “engaging in dialogue,” because there is lots of dialogue that does not nurture relationships. Or at any rate there is lots of talking that is believed to be dialogue, but being devoid of listening it does not actually nurture relationships.

    I am the author of the article referred to above in the letter to the editor by Sylvia Martens (“The gospel calls us to be unsettled” (Viewpoint, September/October 2017)), and while she may not ever see this reply, I am taking the opportunity to respond and perhaps dialogue. While I was a little shocked to hear that someone would openly state that they are: “surprised” that the MB Herald “would present something that in my mind is not acceptable,” I wasn’t that shocked. The constituency of the MB Herald is, by and large, socially conservative, and this is the denominational magazine. Why wouldn’t you expect to have only comfortable, opinion-confirming, ‘acceptable’ material printed in a magazine paid for by the church you know so well? Does this sound a little biting? Not very dialogue-ish? Well, imagine what it would feel like if you are a member of the MB family who does not live in accordance with the moral judgments of this letter writer – what would it feel like to read from these pages that your perspective is not acceptable to be printed because your relationship label is “disturbing” to the readers of the Herald? I live with the benefit of many social privileges and have a lot of support that enables me to hear (unintentionally) judgmental voices without sustaining much emotional damage. But this is not the case for everyone. This letter is one small example of how people are pushed to the margins, how certain voices are not heard, how the diversity of the body is denied and a false picture of the church is reinforced. The church, including the MB denomination, is filled with people who have valuable things to share and contribute and who live in a variety of relationship structures and use a variety of relationship labels. This letter writer would deny the validity of many (most?) of these people. Would my article about the legacy of colonialism in Canada have been less true if I was living in a same-sex partnership? According this person, probably. And that is pretty disturbing to me. But if we are going to dialogue about what disturbs us, maybe we should take about the ongoing support given in this magazine (e.g. “Meaningful communion in an internet culture” 11/27/2015) to the work of John Howard Yoder, a longtime serial abuser of numerous women.

    As a final comment about dialogue, I would specifically encourage Sylvia Martens to speak with some younger people about the labels they use to describe their relationships. She might be surprised to find that many people in committed long term relationships (including marriages) use the term “partner” for a whole host of reasons. She might even learn that using ‘partner’ can do a lot of good for some people. Part of me wishes that the MB Herald office had not disclosed that my partner is my wife and that Sylvia Martens could have completely ignored the content and logic of my article due to the disturbing confusion of my relationship label.

    I have taken the time to write this lengthy reply because I believe it is ‘nurturing’ to help people become healthier, and it is always healthy to see how our ways of seeing and talking about things can be damaging to other people, such as assuming that people living in ‘partnerships’ cannot contribute valid material to the MB Herald. Continue the dialogue here or at matt.balcarras (at) gmail.com

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