My community of faith has been working through a change in our collective understandings about what it means to be gay... and a minister called by God to proclaim the Good News.
This has been hard work.
There are those who angrily left.
There are those who sadly left.
There are those who tentatively stayed.
There are those who adamantly stayed.
There are many in that very first category who had other issues burning, and this was the one that gave them permission to leave. We miss them, even though in the long run it is healthier for them and the congregation for them to have moved on.
I've had conversations with some of them and those in the second category. Those in the second and third categories are hard conversations. They mean well. I mean well. I ask if it's possible for us to be the congregation that shows the community at large that it can be done; people can disagree on even the big things, but still come together to do good for an even bigger thing. They just can't do it or, they can but only if the gay issue doesn't get talked about.
Don't ask ,don't tell... even though when my wife is not leading worship elsewhere in her ordained calling as a United Church of Christ minister she attends worship and is on a committee and teaches a Bible study (talk about pastor's wife stereotypes!). Still, nothing should be addressed out loud.
In order to calm the waters, I've been okay with not talking about these issues: being gay and a Christian, being Called, being fearfully and wonderfully made, being married to someone who is the same gender. I've even been complicit in the silence as my own nature is to keep my private life, private; separation of personal and professional.
But have you read this post?
It is written by a mother, a woman of deep faith, whose son came out to her as gay and she handled it in the most faithful and understanding way she knew how. In her words:
"We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible, the Word of God, should say:We love you. We will always love you. And this is hard. Really hard. But we know what God says about this, so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices...
We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is not an option."Although these words were never specifically spoken to me, as a child of the church the message was clear - being gay was not an option for those who wanted to lead a faithful life.
End of discussion.
But we have to talk about this because young people are being hurt by bad theology. We have to learn why it is okay to read the Scriptures that a significant segment of the religious establishment use as proof-texts and be bold enough to say:
They. are. wrong.
|Designed by Southminster Presbyterian Church, Boise, Idaho|
I am calling out myself on using the phrase "faithfully agree to disagree."
We just don't have that kind of time.
Mrs. Robertson continues...
"We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we -- and God -- were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to an abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards. Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture...
But nothing changed. God didn't answer his prayer, or ours, though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe, the God for whom nothing is impossible, could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not."We are watching too many people flee our churches because we offer no sanctuary.
We are watching as children are baptized and told they are loved no matter what... and then later on in life told about the caveats that apply.
We are watching as parents and families and children and teenagers try to do what is right in "God's" eyes forgetting that God called us specifically to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
We have to talk about this because young people like Mrs. Robertson's son are unable to find peace when they try to live a lie - that they are not gay. In Ryan's case, he turned to drugs for the fleeting peace they gave him.
We have to talk about this because as one colleague wrote in regard to this article:
bad exegesis kills.
How do we continue the conversation?