Church would be a lot more interesting if there were more intercourse going on.
OK, I know this sounds crazy. Just hear me out.
We’ve resisted it for centuries, but I think it’s finally time for us to give into temptation. After all, God created sexual reproduction as the primary way that life happens; why wouldn’t we want to get in on that action? Sure, there are species that reproduce through fission, but that’s boring. Asexual reproduction is just another word for cloning, which is about as creative as a widget factory churning out thousands of toasters and electric alarm clocks.
Sex is where it’s at. It’s when we come together, in all our difference, and agree to make something totally new. Not quite me, not quite you, but a new creation that defies all prediction and human control.
For centuries, most Christian communities have taken a strictly celibate approach to our faith. We’ve walled ourselves off from each other, seeking to grow only through mechanistic cloning. For so long, Episcopalians have been busy preserving their liturgy, while Quakers carefully guard their distinctives, and Presbyterians maintain good order. So many of us have been convinced that our little tribe has the one and only genuine article; we’ve rarely been willing to learn and grow, to adapt and co-create with others.
After all, sex is messy. Sex is vulnerable. It’s unpredictable, with consequences that are totally out of our control. It results in progeny that will have totally different thoughts, feelings, reactions, and dreams than its parents do.
And that’s exactly what we need.
Look around you. Look at all those clone churches. Struggling. Shriveling. Dying. The spiritual sterility of much of the established church in North America is no accident. Our long history of chaste cloning is coming to its natural conclusion. What we need at this point aren’t more replicas of 1950s church culture; we need fresh expressions of the kingdom of God, living out a unique mission in a rapidly changing culture.
That requires us Christians to get together. To know and love each other. To trust and work alongside one another.
It’s a radical idea, I know.
What if we Quakers stopped trying to clone our pristine Quaker past and instead partnered with Episcopalians, Pentecostals, Baptists, and Brethren to give birth to something entirely new? What if we had the courage to let the living power of Jesus Christ relativize our dogmatic traditions, rituals, processes, and documents? What would it look like for the Holy Spirit to play jazz with all the raw materials that each of our traditions bring to the table?
This doesn’t mean throwing tradition out, any more than parents throw their genes out when they conceive a child together. It’s about allowing everything about us to become the raw material for something new, something wonderful. It’s about re-mixing, re-combining, daring to face the unpredictable work of the Holy Spirit who inspired our traditions in the first place!
I have no idea what would happen if we truly broke down those barriers and got that intimate with one another. There’s no way to predict what kind of spiritual progeny might emerge from such a union. Fortunately, we don’t have to. If we’ll get out of the cloning business and start focusing on loving one another, all sorts of crazy, delightful things can happen.
What do you think? Could you use a little bit more love in your life? Would your tradition benefit from a deeper partnership with others? How can we grow deeper and stronger through risky co-creation together, leaving behind the cloning impulse that has predominated for so long?