Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Story of a Sermon

My goodness, it's like the crowd from MadPriest's place wandered in. We have set a record for comments on that last post, friends. I love hearing from you-- all of you-- though, do be loves, and stop SHOUTING. (You know who you are.)

So I've been thinking about the older women in the congregation who have never been married. I have been wondering whether any of them might, in fact, be women who were oriented to love women, but in a day and age where they couldn't find their way to that life experience.

Years ago a minister I know preached a sermon on same-sex love and the church. She brilliantly (to my mind) used Acts 10, the story of Peter's encounter with Cornelius, and the vision Peter had that changed his mind and heart. Go ahead and read it here; I'll wait.

Good. The gist of the story, of course, is that Peter had been convinced that only those who observe the law to the full extent (including the laws around food and circumcision) could be Christians, could be saved. But he has a vision, in which God says, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” Peter realizes that God's vision is bigger than his, and he says, ultimately, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."

This minister wove this story into a sermon that was powerful and true; afterwards a woman of her congregation, a pillar of the church who was about 75 at the time, came to her. With a trembling voice, she said, "I waited a long time to hear that sermon." And that woman left there, for the first time in her long life as a faithful Christian, hearing that she was not bad or corrupt or polluted by virtue of who her soul longed for. That woman went home healed.

I am here to say that I believe that those who "do what's right" are many, and they have not been accepted. What God has called clean, by the growing sensus fidelium, includes, in our day, committed same-sex partnership. I believe this with all my heart.


FranIAm said...

Amen, I say - Amen.

Choralgirl said...

Bless you, C. :-) That was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many of those women had partners but were simply hidden? The old "Boston Marriage".

I think you are pretty generous to post the bile-spewing Anonymous, C. I suspect anon is a self-hating homo who is trying to justify his misery in the face of religious hatred. OCICBW. But he needs some therapy to find out why he "hates" homos more than divorce'es or college kids sleeping around the campus on weekends. The disproportionate response suggests other problems.


Hidden in Christ said...

as usual, i couldn't agree more! well done. thanks for sharing that because i've never seen that passage in such an incredible and relevant light. i am praying that my family and friends and people like "anonymous the prophet" will see this same vision and that they, too, would realize that God is bigger than their pre-conceived ideas and prejudices.

keep preaching the Word. there's a world out there who needs to hear it the way you write it.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Hi. I just wandered over here from another blog, and the story of that elderly woman brought tears to my eyes.

Wendy said...

"I believe this with all my heart."

....which is the wrong thing to trust.

Jer 17:9
"The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately wicked"


"Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor 6:9-11

Cecilia said...

Well, thanks for dropping in Wendy!

Here's some scripture for you:

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5

Okey dokey?

Pax, C.

Cecilia said...

And by the way, your translation is incorrect. The word "homosexual" was invented in the 19th century. Therefore, Paul cannot have written it in Greek in the 1st. The word he used can be translated "sodomites," which was a Greek term denoting the male who was more active in the sexual act, who was believed to be exploiting the other male. Paul had not concept of homosexuality, as in a natural orientation towards the same sex.

Pax, C.

Cecilia said...

"no concept"

FranIAm said...

You don't have to post this when you moderate C - that is up to you.

It is best to just ignore them. Bless them in your heart and ignore.

I have had a couple - more due to my commenting on blogs more spiritual than my own.

One of them just sent me a rather obnoxious email on top of it all, when I ignored him in the comments.

It is all folly. God is in you dear sister and you are in God.

However, you don't need me to remind you of what you already know... in your deep and beautiful heart.

I love hearing, reading, watching you grow more wonderfully into yourself.

Peace unto you always.

And peace unto the others as well.

Wendy said...

"I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me."

I agree, but even though this Anonymous guy can be forceful and obnoxious, I think he's just trying to wake you guys up before the Lord comes to judge you.

In my view he's quite right about the verses he quotes. God woke me up a few years ago. I didn't want to be told that the devil was deceiving me, and I hated it when others told me he was. But once God penetrated me with the truth about this sin I began to find enormous freedom and change. I finally confessed what many other lesbians know deep in their hearts....that we're playing with fire, an unnatural and twisted fire. And I finally owned up to the reality that my lesbianism was a chronic and debilitating sin.

And, praise God, He has set me free. What a difference! Now I can be all that God created me to be.

And so, now that I've stumbled on your blog, I'll be praying that you find that same freedom too.


A former, now set free, Lesbian

Cecilia said...

Oh Wendy, my sister in Christ.

Do you imagine that God created you any way other than exactly the way God wants you to be?

Do you imagine that God creates people with same-sex orientation in order to torture or test us?

Do you imagine that loving committed relationships are sick and twisted, because a handful of sentences in an ancient text condemns them? I love the Bible, I love God as revealed through Jesus Christ, and I believe in Christ we are set free from the laws of Leviticus, and even from the imagined prohibitions found in Paul (they aren't there. Please see my earlier writing about idol worship. Were you worshiping idols? Then you can't ascribe your lesbianism to that. It must be the way God created you to be in this world.)

Sister, I think what is sick and twisted is to look at a human being and tell her she is intrinsically wrong as she came from the womb. I'm not talking about original sin here... which I believe in, a brokenness at the heart of things, in which we tend to wander away from God. But sin is about separation from God and God's beloveds, our brothers and sisters on this planet. Sin is about abuse, and mistreatment, and inequality, and violence. Love between two adults who are free (not covenanted to others), love which adds to the peace and goodness of the world... I see this in so many relationships of LGBTQ people. I see people glowing with the love of Christ and the love of their partners.

Thank you for your generous offer to pray for me (which I never could seem to get from Angrynonymous). I will pray for you as well... that the peace that surpasses all understanding might fill your mind and heart and soul with the sure and solid love of Jesus Christ-- for you, as you are, as you were meant to be.

Pax, C.

Wendy said...

Thanks Cecilia,

But I am already as God meant me to be. He has changed me completely. I am free, like a butterfly. He has now molded me into what He originally intended me to be - heterosexual. That was His plan from the beginning of time. Only the sin within me ruined it -- marred and scarred it, so that I dared to stand before Him and say "love my homosexuality too, Lord".

But He couldn't, because He had prohibited it. What He invited me to do was to surrender it to Him so that He could nail it to the cross.

And by doing that He set me free.It's beautiful, Cecilia.

A committed love between two consenting adults doesn't make it right if God has condemned it. Think of incestuous partners, think of polygamous partners, think of two 13 year olds exploring their emotions and hormones. Attraction is not necessarily love, nor does attraction make it godly.

I used to think like you -- all the self-justifying, all the "love language". But God has shown me what's right and true, and I wouldn't give that up for anything now.

I am healed!

And I'll keep praying for your healing too, C.


Anonymous said...

This is another reason (I've lost count) I'm an atheist; the idea of religion taking someone like Wendy and telling her to hate herself. Who is she trying to persuade with her screed....not us, I think, but herself.

Sad, sad person. Feels the need to come over here and earnestly tell us how awful we are. That's fine dear. We heard you. We don't agree, of course.

Now go back over to one of your own church echo-chamber and spare us the superstitious, irrational, illogical, and unsupported views. You compare us to polygamists? Honey, you have all the signs of the poor women in the polygamous cult in TX who rationalize the polygamy and abuse. I hope you get help.


Judy said...

Hey you guys. I've been reading these posts with some amusement lately. One the one side are the lesbians who get their noses all out of joint when someone dares to disagree with them, and on the other side are ultra-conservatives who feel the need to correct everyone.

I stumbled on a blog the other day with a post called "Born Gay?". Go have a read and tell me what you think?

It's here: http://dthog.blogspot.com/2008/01/born-gay.html

Cecilia said...

Welcome Judy! If you characterize it as "lesbians getting their noses all out of joint when someone disagrees with them," then perhaps you haven't read some of the more vitriolic attacks around here. It's not "disagreeing;" it's condemning utterly, telling us we're disordered and that our God-given character is innately sinful. So, yeah. I guess that sort of thing puts my nose out of joint, seeing as this is my blog and I don't go over to the conservatives' blogs to tell them that I think they're in for a rude surprise at the pearly gates.

I don't think much of the post you've directed me to. In my back and forth with Angrynonymous, I have answered all the points made there.

It's time for this blog to be a safe space again.

Pax, C.

Judy said...

Wow. You've got issues.

From what I've read I don't think it's anonymous who's telling you that you are disordered. It's the Bible that's telling you that. I'd also say that it's the other responses here that are displaying the anger, not hers/his (?). But, hey, that's just my read on it as an objective third party who dropped by.

I guess I'll mosey on. This looks like a pretty closed little community here.

I've got better things to do and read.

Have fun being safe.

Cecilia said...

If you mean I've got issues with people claiming that one particular view of scripture is the only correct one, and that they have a pipeline to the heart of God that no one else has... yes. I have issues with that. I'm offended.

I have kept my temper through this whole exchange. Is there a reason we can't be civil? I know I've tried.

I believe people who are freaked out by LGBTQ people may actually be the ones with issues... those who are a little threatened may be struggling with things they are not ready to admit to. Just a guess.

And for LGBTQ people, "safe" is the difference between life and death; being attacked, not just with words, but with fists, knives, guns, etc. So, yes. It's good to keep this a safe space, even if some can't appreciate that value.

Pax, C.

Choralgirl said...

Hi there, Cecilia--hang in there, girl. :-) Thank you for your grace and patience in the face of some seriously stubborn gracelessness.


Anonymous said...

Wendy, Wendy, Wendy - you might like to revise the phrasing of your boilerplate "I'm free" posts. To wit:

"But once God penetrated me with the truth about this sin"

Seriously, it's not my business to tell you whether or not to be ex-gay. But whatever you choose should be leading you to kindness, empathy, generosity, peace-making, and all the fruits of the Spirit. I like evidence-based Christian reformation, I am from Missouri, "Show me". At least that works for me, letting me know I am off track if I start getting critical and useless and gossipy. (Sound like anyone's workplace or church or social group?)


Ruth Eliz said...

Well I must say I enjoyed your entry very much. Last summer when I could no longer run from who I am I went to God. I fully expected Him to strike me down dead.(I'm a hell fire & brimstone preachers kid. He was also a very homophobic man who hated gays.) I stood before God during a lightening storm and threw myself on the rock of my salvation in the glimmer of hope He would just 'fix' me. God spoke directly to me 'You're not broken'. I felt incredible peace like an embrace from my heavenly Father. I literally said 'what?' Then show me in your word and the Bible opened to Acts 10. When I read those words not to call anyone unholy or unclean He set me free. Not how I thought but according to His will. Of course the journey didn't end there but He has continued to draw me into letting Him be truly God in my life and in control. I praise Him for freeing me from my self righteousness into Himself. Thanks for your wonderful site.

Cecilia said...

Ruth Eliz. welcome! Welcome to this blog and to this journey. You are loved, precious and chosen in God's sight.

Pax, C.