Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gay Guy in Seminary Day 137 (Phase One)

I talked to Ronnie today, the senior pastor at my church. The session had a meeting and they decided that they are going to support me through the ordination process. There is one caveat. They wanted to let me know, in writing, that they do not support my "theology" when it comes to homosexuality. He told me that the congregation loves me and that they see Christ in me and that they want to support me, but they cannot stand behind my beliefs on gays in the chruch. I asked if I should sit down with some of them so that we can talk about it, but he said that it wasn't necessary and was unlikely to change anything. Needless to say, I had mixed emotions when we ended our conversation.

I was a little shaky when I got off the phone with him. On one hand, I was excited because they actually were going to support me. You cannot go through the ordination process without a church backing you. I honestly didn't know what to expect when I submitted my application to them. As you know, I come from the second most conservative presbytery in the United States, and deciding to go through the ordination process in my home presbytery was not something that I undertook lightly. I knew there was going to be some conflict, but I didn't know exactly what form that conflict was going to take. I know this is not going to be the last hurdle I will have to overcome when it comes to my sexual orientation, but I was hoping it wasn't going to start so soon.

While I was excited to have their support, I was disappointed about what came with that support. While I am grateful that they want to support me despite our differences in opinion, I still do not fully understand the issue. Growing up as a gay person, I have a hard time seeing the issue the way other people do. I understand that the Bible says that being gay is wrong, but it also says that divorce is wrong. If a divorced person can be a pastor, why can't a gay person? The Bible also says that women should not teach men. Why can a woman be a pastor, but not a gay person? Do gay people pose some kind of threat that I am unaware of? I completely understand their need to make their position clear, I just wish that wasn't their position.

The more I thought about it, the more fitting I found the situation to be. I have long ago accepted that God is in control of all of this. My predicament is basically an illustration of the state of the church. Two sides on opposite side of a highly polarizing issue, the difference being that we have so far been able to deal with those differences in a Christ-like manner, unlike many other parts of the church. If my congregation, who does not agree with everything that I believe in, can stand behind me and support my decision to go through the ordination process, why can't this happen in other churches as well? Who said we all have to agree with each other on every single little detail? I guarantee that if you were to do a comprehensive study on what each of the people on the session of my church believes, their beliefs would not line up perfectly with each other. You know what? That's okay! That doesn't mean that they are not brothers and sisters in Christ. We can all support and love each other, like they are supporting and loving me, even though we don't agree on everything. I am still part of the family and they have chosen not to abandon me.

We, as a church, and I don't just mean Presbyterians, I mean all Christians everywhere, need to come together, overcome our differences and show the world what the love of Christ looks like. That is our job; that is the task that God has entrusted us with. We keep bickering over little inconsequential things like the nature of baptism and communion, who exactly the pope is, the role of women and gays in the church and an impossible array of other divisive topics when we should be focused on ending world hunger, stopping the spread of disease, providing shelter for the poor, and making the world a safer place for the next generation. Are we so enamored with ourselves that we cannot see our neighbors for who they really are, fellow human beings?

If we all worked together, we could show everyone what the kingdom of God is supposed to look like, so why are we so focused on us vs. them? Let's focus on the big things, and the little things will work themselves out in the end.


  1. You've chosen a difficult road. I'm proud of you for continuing on it.

  2. Thanks. I can use all the support I can get.

  3. So what are the theological differences? What is your theological basis for concluding that living a homosexual lifestyle is ok with God? I'm also curious as to what you mean by Christ/God's love? You said we all (Christians) need to come together to show His love. How do we know what His love is? What does it look like? He says in His Word that God IS love. So I guess we would have to look to who God is to see what love is actually supposed to be?

  4. I think I was pretty clear in explaining what I think Christ/God's love is supposed to look like: caring for the least in the world, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, comforting those that suffer. I think the Bible is pretty clear on this.

    As for my theological basis that living a homosexual lifestyle is okay, I have been a Christian all of my life and I've read the Bible almost every day since I was 13. The overarching story that the Bible presents is of God's interactions with a world and a people that God loves. My understanding of that is that God gives us rules to protect ourselves and love each other. Any so-called "laws" that go against that understanding of who God is are suspect. Besides, if you go to the original Hebrew and Greek, those passages used to exclude homosexuals from the life of the church are not as clear-cut as many people would have you believe.