Cody McMahan died Saturday. I had the privilege of knowing Cody for perhaps 15-20 years….I believe I’ve lost count.
I believe I first met him when Cody was still a member of Greenland Hills UMC. He later joined Northaven, and still later started dating and eventually married Mike House.
One of the high honors of my ministry was assisting with their wedding. Even though it led to a tense and contentious “just resolution process” for me personally, the day was pure joy.
Cody taught me much about the struggles of the LGBTQ community. His thoughtfulness, the way he wore his emotions on his sleeve, they pushed me to be a better ally.
Later in life, as he reflected back, he sometimes told me he felt like he had earlier come on too strong. I supposed folks do this reflection sometimes, as they are dying.
Quite the contrary, I told him. The strength of his passion often pushed me in ways I *needed* pushing, and I developed a deep love and appreciation for both he and Mike.
There were times —specific periods after specific General Conference sessions— where I almost could not look Cody in the eye, so ashamed was I of our denominations continuing discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Which leads me to repeat something today that I wish wasn’t still true.
I often say something that is *still* true about the UMC today:
“It is a miracle that any LGBTQ persons stays in the United Methodist Church.”
And it is. I find it as evidence that God truly IS working through our Church, that any LGBTQ persons stays in this struggle. It must be of God….AND…the beauty and pain of the struggle cannot be fully understood by those on the outside. The struggle has been, and is, costly…uneccesarily costly….
Progressive United Methodists have always been something of a “miracle;” and their patience TODAY must not be overlooked.
(I fear, no I am *certain,* it *is* being overlooked…)
Straight people, even folks like myself who try to listen best we can, cannot possible understand how challenging it is.
Sadly, the above quote is still true this morning. LGBTQ persons, and their allies, still await the full realization of the “big tent” church we have envisioned for years, and that Moderates have assured us is “still coming.”
For all his sense of justice, Cody could search inside himself and find compassion for his “enemies;” because he was always self-aware enough about his own flaws and faults. That way he had… of leaning in to his own strengths and weaknesses…that actually made him stronger. And his sense of compassion never quenched his fire for justice and change, and a Church that more fully lives out its claim to be “Open Doors.”
As with Jack and George before them, Cody and Mike stand as a powerful reminder of just *why* same sex marriage is so important, and just why some of us straight Christians have advocated for it for so many years.
The companionship, love, and deep commitment between Cody and Mike was powerful to see. I knew them long enough to see both of them become disillusioned with love…and the church…and I knew them long enough to see both of them find one another. And that was a beautiful thing.
Even during Cody’s fight with cancer, I’d occassionally see pics of Cody and Mike, travelling to places they wanted to go…living the life they deserved to have…and it made me smile.
My deep prayers are with my brother, Mike today. And with all of us here in North Texas who are, and were, moved and affected by the life of Cody McMahon.
Cody did not live to see the full realization of a fully inclusive United Methodist Church, and this morning, this makes me incredibly sad. There will be many other days to speak of those issues. But today, I simply hold space for my friend Cody, and for Mike, and for all my memories of him, and of the ways he has shaped my life.
And —I can only speak for me— if and when a fully inclusive UMC *does* become realized, Cody will remain in my heart as a Saint of the Church; as one of those who, through the fire in his belly, the justice in his mind, and the compassion in his heart, made it all possible.
His name and his ministry will not be forgotten.