I have been so heartened and challenged by reading comments to my post of two days ago. Whether people agree with my life choices or disagree, there is a feeling of goodwill and being kept in prayer that I treasure. However, a recent comment by Chris as well as one by Grace have given me enough pause that I feel I should say the following.
Despite what I wrote, I do not/would not encourage anyone to lie. Under certain circumstances I support and understand the choice, I would prefer to say, to withhold the fullness of one's identity with regard to sexual orientation. L.'s words obviously have shaken me. That someone looks at me... someone who knows me and likes me and has protected me by keeping my secret... and makes that judgment was a kind of wake-up call. When people are discerning a call to ordained ministry, there is an oft-quoted maxim: If there is anything else you can possibly do, and be happy, you should do that. Go into ministry only if you feel you have no other choice. I suppose that is exactly how I would encourage anyone who asked about being closeted with regard to sexual identity. If there is any other way you can live and be happy, that is what you should do. This is a last resort, for those who feel they have no other choice.
Back in March when I started this blog I gave a thumbnail sketch of my life my experiences of being married to a man yet falling in love with women. It probably wasn't clear from that sketch, but I will say here that I experienced the call to ministry and was ordained long before I had any idea my marriage would end. But life circumstances made me a single (divorced) woman who had been trying in vain to stop herself from being in love with women for pretty much her whole life.
I will also say this: my position (theologically and politically) on LGBT ordination has been consistent for at least the last 25 years, it was the same when I was ordained as it is now: I believe that God has created us the way God wants us to be, that we all can experience God's genuine call to ministry, and that our gifts should be welcomed. Though scripture contains all things necessary to salvation, as the catchphrase goes, it contains a lot of other stuff too... what has been called "adiaphora," things that are indifferent to salvation. I think Paul did not describe, in his injunctions against same sex relations, anything that bears even the most remote resemblance to a mature, adult same-sex commitment. All the sexual acting out he describes in Romans and elsewhere has to do with things we would understand as sexual exploitation or abuse, and it all stems from idol worship, failing to honor the one true God.
I have believed all these things for a long time. If my ordaining body had asked I'd have been clear about my position on these matters; they did not. In one-on-one conversation and in bible study with parishioners, I have been clear about my position on these matters. I believe Jesus has already welcomed me to the table, whether or not my denomination has figured that out. I have not preached one gospel and lived another: my sermons are consistently about God's open-hearted welcome to every one of us. (In this, at least, I hope I differ from a certain senator about whom we've all been reading. Also in the fact that I never violated my marriage vows.)
I hold my relationship with B. as a gift from God, a gift that has enabled me to come home, at long last, to the good creation I know God made me to be. And I can do no other than to live into that. Unfortunately, or ironically, I also can do no other than to be an ordained minister of the gospel. Here is my rock, and here is my hard place. But it is on Christ, the sold rock, that I stand, and in whom I put my trust as I seek ever greater authenticity. As Anne Lamott describes it in "Grace, Eventually," it is scootch, scootch, reverse, plateau, scootch. But there is movement.
Thanks for listening.