- by Rob Lee - Spoiler Alert: Warm Bodies
Recently I saw the movie Warm Bodies. This romantic zombie film chronicles the journey of two characters who later become star-crossed lovers, one a zombie, the other a very normal human being. Ultimately this love, in true Romeo and Juliet fashion, brings healing to the zombies and acceptance to the human community. The whole film is all about understanding, trying to comprehend, and finding love for something so incredibly different than oneself.
Now let me be clear, I am in no way comparing the homosexual or heterosexual community to zombies, but in the final scenes of the movie the zombies and the humans are starting to live together after years of hatred of the ‘other.’ The protagonist talks about getting to know humans this way, “It was scary at first, but everything starts out scary at first, doesn’t it?”
That got me thinking, what does a future look like for those so deeply divided on this issue? Let’s say for instance, General Conference 2016 in Portland decides that inclusion is the best route forward, how do we as people who all bear the name Methodist, come together and move forward? Even harder than that, what if GC2016 decides to retain the language, how do we continue to build relationships with those who ardently disagree with those who yearn for inclusion?
I feel like I live in the middle of this issue. In the South, the Bible Belt as it is sometimes referred to, there are large amounts of people who haven’t built a friendship with a gay person. I don’t think it’s because they’re not willing, but simply and directly it just hasn’t happened yet. It’s far past time for Reconciling United Methodists in the North and the South to cultivate relationships with those who ardently disagree with us.
Ultimately, if we truly believe what we say about everyone having a place at the table, we might find ourselves with people at the table to our right and left who have said terrible things about inclusion, about the homosexual community, and about the so called ‘limits’ of God’s grace. Are you prepared to sit next to them; are you ready to begin that dialogue?
I firmly believe the reason that the United Methodist Church will change won’t be because of our hierarchy or structure, but because of grassroots organizations and conversations that get people thinking. I’ve always thought that the best compliment someone can get within the realm of preaching or teaching is simply, “you made me think.” If we begin the conversation, we ultimately are allowing God’s life-changing inclusive love to take new forms for people were fearfully and wonderfully made, no matter how misguided their views are.
This isn’t easy, and if my mom heard me say that she would remind me of a phrase that I have engrained in my memory, “God never said it would be easy, only that you wouldn’t be alone.” Are you willing to risk something big for something really good? Are you ready to have that conversation about what it means to be gay, or a straight ally? Whatever your lot in life, you must be willing to be vulnerable to show the heart of God.
In the end, it wasn’t guns or wars or savvy political moves that saved the zombies and humans from destroying each other in the movie. It was someone on one side willing to reach out and be vulnerable, painfully aware of our differences, but in the end celebrating them as God-given gifts. We need some unconventional love; we need people who willing to begin that conversation that leads to unconventional love. To that end we need people willing to be vulnerable, people willing to show the heart of a life-giving, life-changing God. How are you going to answer that call?
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Rob Lee, 20, is a lifelong United Methodist and member of Broad Street United Methodist Church in Statesville, North Carolina. Rob is an undergraduate religious studies major at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Rob is an advocate within the church from a General Conference (2012 Delegate) to the local church level. Rob has a weekly column in the Statesville Record and Landmark and other North Carolina papers. Rob is a blogger who blogged and wrote stories for UMCommunications during the 2012 General Conference. Rob has plans to attend seminary, and continue to advocate for justice within the church. Rob enjoys movies, friends and hiking. He lives in Boone with his dog Rusty.