Amy Schumer is one of my former parishioners. Not the Amy Schumer. But I’ve known and loved more than a few parishioners who remind me of Ms. Schumer. They confided in me that they were having sex with multiple guys. They drank too much. They occasionally used controlled substances. A couple of them were having serious or not-so-serious relationships with married men. Some wrestled with the theological ramifications of their actions. Some did not.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about church people. Before you lecture me on my lost opportunity to inform these parishioners that they were on a fast track to hell, let me just say that these were all real people trying to figure out their lives. The most lecture-y I got was about health. (“Please tell me you are using birth control.“) But I indeed asked questions about where God was in all this. You might be surprised how close some of these parishioners (male and female) felt to God while having a perfectly enjoyable time trying to figure out which of three friends with benefits they liked the best.
I am personally not like Amy Schumer in most ways. I’m a serial monogamist for one thing. But I’m also trying to get past the idol that is virginity. I’m trying to serve a church in which people are shamed for enjoying human sexuality, which God invented by the way. I know too many people who have been theologically wounded because of erroneous information about “what the Bible says” about sex. I believe in fidelity. I believe in treating people respectfully. I believe we must treat ourselves with respect.
The truth is that we are all broken. Even Amy Schumer (playing Trainwreck Amy) confessed that she was broken. We make choices that damage ourselves and each other. We are selfish. We live in a world that will smash our dreams and challenge our core goodness, and use people for selfish purposes.
But what would you do if Amy Schumer was a member of your congregation? Call her out during worship as a “prayer concern”? Excommunicate her? Feel generally mortified when you see her sitting there in the pews when you realize how painfully inapplicable to daily life your sermon is? Wonder how somebody like Amy is hearing the Prayer of Confession or the Call for the Offering?
Amy Schumer probably won’t show up in most of our churches. But every once in a while, she might wander in after a particularly rough break up. She might join a pious love interest on a dare. She might show up with her parents. Or maybe she is already there, looking appropriately Presbyterian but having a secret life involving guys named Fabio and Saber.
The bottom line is that everybody needs authentic love. Everyone deserves to be known and treasured. We are our best selves when we have experienced unconditional love and respond in kind. How do people know what the love of God looks like unless we show them – preferably outside the walls of a church building?