Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unintended Consequences

Vacation time is slowly coming to a close, and so I'm trying to squeeze in as much family and friend time as possible. Tonight, my sister and I went to my brother James' house to play Settlers of Catan with him and his two kids, Kai and Raj. At first, my sister Dianne didn't want to play, but the game caught her attention as she watched us play and she finally jumped in. Needless to say, we all had a really great time.

While we were playing, we somehow got onto the topic of church. I noticed this happens quite frequently around me, go figure. My brother mentioned that he's been getting further and further away from the church, and now that this thing happened to me, it only justifies his belief that the church is full of bigots. I tried to explain to him that everyone has flaws and that it's human nature to be divisive, but he had a point. I didn't have a lot of firm ground to stand on, especially in light of what did in fact happen to me because of the church.

I love God and have pretty much always loved God. For most of my life, I have equated this love with loving and caring for and being a part of the church. Is this incorrect? Obviously, I still want to be part of the church: I haven't dropped out of school and fully intend to graduate and become the senior pastor at a cafe church someday, but it is becoming increasingly hard to tell people that attending church is a good thing. A lot of the people there just aren't giving me very much to work with.

So, how do you explain to people that church is a good thing? Do you in fact believe that going to church is a good thing?

I think church is good for us, because as human beings, we are designed to worship God. It's kind of like how cars are designed to run on gas. This "argument" works for me, but I can see how it might not work when looked at from the other side.

How do you tell someone to hang out with a bunch of hypocritical bigots who have relegated someone you love to a level of second class citizenship?

Friday, December 24, 2010

You've got mail

One of the problems that I tend to have when I'm on vacation is that I have a hard time going to bed at a "normal" hour. So, since I've been meaning to blog for a while and I can't sleep, even though it's almost 5 in the morning, I decided to go ahead and write about what's been on my mind for the past few weeks.

This post is about the last blog that I wrote, which was basically a copying and pasting of two letters. The first was a response that someone wrote to me regarding the letter that I wrote to my church and my presbytery to explain to them how I felt about the decisions that they made and to let them know that I was leaving the PCUSA. The second was my response back to that person.

Well, that person wrote back to me pretty quick. That was about 2 weeks ago now. The reply has been sitting in my email this whole time and I've been too afraid to look at it. So many people have hurt me in the last few months, people that were supposed to care about me, that I did not want to risk any more emotional damage, especially at the end of the semester and certainly not right before the holidays. I've been dealing with a lot of crap lately, and I for the time being, I felt that I could push off reading the letter until after the holidays, or at least until after Christmas.

In the meantime, I also got a reply from the presbytery. Since I wasn't going to read the first email, I decided to hold off on reading that one as well.

So, they've been sitting in my inbox this whole time, and I can't stop thinking about them. I probably shouldn't let a couple of emails have this kind of power over me, especially since I haven't even read them yet, but I have read a lot of really hurtful and hateful things in the past couple of weeks, and I feel like I need to limit my exposure. I guess it's kind of like how you should only eat a certain about of tuna per week 'cuz of the mercury? Yes, evil words really are like poison, and the poison doesn't even taste good.

I'll let you all know when I read the letters. I'm not sure exactly when I'm gonna read them, but I'm assuming it won't be too long from now.

In the meantime, happy holidays and I hope you are all surrounded by grace, joy and love. In spite of what's been going on, my friends and family have been really great and I love being around them. It's too bad school starts again in a week. Oh well. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Theology, Pharisees and Sex Rights

One of the responses to my letter and my reply:

Hello Charles,

First of all, I'm very sorry that you have experienced pain as a result of our church and presbytery rejecting your theology. We too experience vilification for our sincerely held beliefs and are labeled as "non Christian", "bigots", & "pharisees" by those we love and it is hard to keep in mind that is our theology that is being rejected and not us.

Second this advice or recommendation is coming from me as a friend and not from our church or presbytery. I suggest that you do not leave the PC USA as it will most likely approve the ordination of practicing homosexuals this year or at least in the next 2-4 years. I think all of the mainline denominations will eventually go that route as well. This is unfortunate because all of the fastest growing Christian churches and movements (i.e. Foursquare, Calvary Chapel, Mars Hill, etc) are conservative and take a stand on the Historic Apostolic Christian faith.

My prayer is that the Spirit visits our country so that "sex" will no longer be god and that we will return to the Biblical theology that teaches that sex is a privilege/gift and not a right.



You have no idea how I feel because you are in fact rejecting who I am, not my theology. What I believe and do is inextricably linked to who I am as a gay man. How would you feel if someone thought that you loving your husband or wife was sinful and disgusting?


Friday, December 3, 2010

Leaving PCUSA

This blog has been silent for a while and I feel that I need to give everyone some kind of explanation for that. I have know for some time that I needed to give some kind of response to my church and the presbytery for what they did to me. I knew that anything I wrote here would be inauthentic because I was not ready to address that issue. Well, yesterday, I finally wrote the letter, and I literally sent it minutes ago. I have no idea how they will react to it.

It was not an easy letter to write, and it was harder to share, but for better or worse, here it is:

Dear Word of Life Church of Oxnard and the Santa Barbara Presbytery,

While this communication may not be able to convey to you the incredible sense of betrayal and injustice that has been inflicted upon me, I will nevertheless attempt to help you to understand. I was baptized at First Presbyterian Church of Oxnard shortly after my birth in 1979. This summer, I celebrated my 31st birthday. For that entire span of time, I have been a member of the Presbyterian Church USA. Never did it cross my mind that I would ever be anything other than Presbyterian for the remainder of my days.

As you know, I am currently in seminary working towards a Masters in Divinity. My intention was to attempt to go through the ordination process in the Santa Barbara Presbytery. I was told almost from the very beginning that this was probably not a wise course of action, but I believed that the denomination I grew up in would have grace enough to see me through the process. Even if the end result was not ordination, as I feared from the beginning it would not be, I had hoped that there would have been some loving, compassionate and Spirit-led discussions along the way.

But, for reasons that I am only beginning to understand, and perhaps never will, this was not meant to be. The support of the congregation I have come to know and love so well was revoked, and the presbytery that I have belonged to all of my life demoted me to second-class citizenship, incapable of ever rising to the office of Presbyterian minister. The reason that all of this happened is because I am gay.

My first inclination was to fight to be allowed to go through the ordination process. This is my church and I believed in what this church professes to stand for. The church that I have thought for so long stood as a wonderful example of a Christian community on Earth suddenly shone a little less bright. I will not demand equality from the PCUSA, when equality is not for the denomination to grant. I came to you, with a vulnerable and open heart and was put to the side, and so I am forced to kick the dust from my feet.

It is God, the maker of heaven and Earth that gives me my identity, purpose and meaning, not the PCUSA. As a child of God and a member of the priesthood of all believers, I cannot ignore God’s call to do kingdom work here on Earth. I refuse to participate in the demonic paradigm that pits neighbor against neighbor, promoting hatred and injustice. Instead, I will strive to be an active participant in the Kingdom of God on Earth, here and now. I will not ask for your permission to do God’s work, because it is not your permission to give. I only pray that someday, you will cease your pharisaic judgments against your neighbors and join me in a new community based on love, respect and equality, led by Christ, fed by the Holy Spirit, and in communion with God the Father.

Please accept this as formal notification of my withdrawal from the PCUSA. If you have any questions or concerns about what I have communicated, please feel free to contact me via email. I hope that someday, we can put our differences aside and come together as a family again. Until that day comes, I will keep you in my prayers and I will never stop loving you.


Charles Furio Wei