Monday, November 17, 2008

A Clarification

I seem to have been unclear in my most recent post... I believe the word that is tripping folks up is "shameful," as in the "shameful truth" of the closeted pastor.

I did not mean to imply that all closeted pastors are full of shame. I myself am not full of shame... not about this, anyway. There are plenty of other things in my life that I have had occasion to feel shameful about, including (but not limited to) how I have treated those I love and my addiction. I was speaking of that particular person... and I believe some do exist... for whom the truth of their sexuality is a source of pain and shame, and reflecting on how very, very difficult that would be.

I have heard from a couple of you who were quick to clarify that "the closet" does not equal "shame." I agree. I could hardly celebrate being a closeted pastor in this blog (and I think, on some level, that is precisely what I am doing) and feel that.

I apologize to anyone who felt that my words stung; that is not how they were intended. I think it takes a lot of courage to be a servant of the Servant, as one of my commenters shared. Blessings and peace to every one of you.

1 comment:

Suzer said...

I feel two ways about that (being the good Libra that I am). On the one hand, there is shame involved in being in the closet, but that shame is not necessarily the shame of the individual GLBT person who is in the closet, but is the shame of those who would place that person there. I partly lay the blame at the feet of the society, congregation, family or friends whose prejudice necessitates the need for a closet.

But, and this may be hard to hear and vigorously disagreed with, I do think that after a certain point, there is shame in remaining in the closet when one knows that the time for coming out has arrived. To continue to use the closet of the oppressor as a shield, when other GLBT people are suffering the slings, arrows and barbs (and, in some cases, even physical violence and death) lobbed at us daily, I do believe that is shameful. To remain in the closet and stand silently by while GLBT people are oppressed, as some closeted pastors do (not you), is shameful. To never have the courage to live openly, to take that out on other GLBT people who stand in the Light as God made them, to use the closet to run away from living authentically -- that IS shameful.

I am, of course, not stating that any of that applies to you, dear Cecilia. But in the larger scheme of things, there can be shame involved. It is not for me to judge, and yet having experienced mistreatment from a frightened closeted pastor, I cannot help but see that at some point there is some shame associated with being in that position. It depends partly on how well the closeted pastor has worked out their own issues, in therapy or counseling or with a trusted colleague.

I have the utmost sympathy for those who remain closeted, whether it be out of fear of losing relationships, fear of losing jobs, fear of losing God (as some misguided religions teach). I pray for those who are in that situation. It is difficult, however, to be ministered to by someone who is not living their life honestly and authentically, and whose fear and paranoia gets the better of them. And it is shameful that our religious leaders and society have made that situation true and necessary for so many, who feel they must live in an inescapable prison to remain "safe."