Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Clarification, Perhaps

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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your witness, ((Cecilia.))


Suzer said...


This makes a lot of sense. I don't envy the position you are in, and understand the difficulties it presents. Sending you lots of love, and hugs, and prayers....

Susan :)

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Your situation brings to mind my rant about people offering marriage advice. So easy to declare how things "ought" to be when you aren't the one having to live the life you demand of others!

My own troubles have taught me that judgment and even advice are rarely helpful. What helps me in times of moral conflict is having someone who will listen to me process and hug me when I need it. Offers of prayer are helpful too. I don't really care what you pray for---just knowing that you are willing to speak my name to God matters.

I believe you will find your way to a life of wholeness, Cecilia. You are taking steps to do that---starting this blog was one.

You will do it in your own good time, and then you will feel strong about yourself and good about the place you land. Don't let anyone else rush you, or make you feel bad about your choices. You are the only one who has to live your life, and you should do it your way.

Cynthia said...

A beautiful witness here.

Anonymous said...

I love this: "I believe that God has created us the way God wants us to be."

And this: "But it is on Christ, the sold rock, that I stand, and in whom I put my trust as I seek ever greater authenticity."


Jan said...

Cecilia, I appreciate and admire you for writing about your beliefs and your life. I see you living true to yourself and true to God. Thank you.

Audrey Connor said...

these have been great posts. thank you for your clear language. it is a gift.

Joni said...

A friend just shared your blog link with me and I am so very grateful that she did. I needed to read what you shared...

Feel free to visit my blog anytime as well. I wouldn't mind corresponding with you sometime.


lauraj said...

This is so beautifully and truthfully spoken. Thank you!

Many people of all sexual orientations in ministry, hide something about the fullness of themselves from public eye. And not just things that might be seen as "sinful" by others, but simply things they want to keep sheltered about their own souls and choices. Being a pastor is such a public role, we make many choices about how much of ourselves we really need to show to be authentic.

KJ said...

Look at the truths you've lived that would have never become real to you if you had not had the journey in which you find yourself.

I have never felt that those who are led to be closeted are living a lie. Life is an adventure, after all, and regardless of sexual orientation, only the "stunted" attempt to stay permanently in the same place, trying to avoid growth and pain, as if that were possible.

But to attempt the "uncloseting" before the leading and conviction are there, is really to try to make things happen under our own control, and usually not for the right reasons.

sharecropper said...

Hey, Babe! Just checking in to let you know that I'm all for what you're doing. Be open when you can be open, but keep witnessing to God's love as you have been doing. As I keep saying, "Keep on trucking, Cecilia!"

Prayers forthcoming on your behalf and hugs coming you way!

Catherine said...

Cecilia, I knew what you were talking about and how you meant "it" aka lying or as I would put it, not fully disclosing who we are in our private lives because that, in my view, is between God, myself and whomever I choose to share my most intimate self with regarding my life.

It was and is crystal clear to me what you were getting at. I think this follow up is clarifying for those who didn't understand it the first time.



June Butler said...

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.

Cecilia, yes.

Barbara said...

I think there are so many things in this life that simply have to be worked out between God and us as individuals, and your situation is one of them. Just like situations I find myself in. I do not envy you, or understand all the challenges that you face. But I appreciate that you are holding on to God, who will surely bring you through.
Many blessings and prayers coming your way.

LittleMary said...

yep! couldn't say it better!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand those who are one way on this subject. Perhaps they are simply idealistic and have the unrealistic view that if we are honest, all those around us will be like Saul on the road to Damascus and in their epiphany, welcome us in. but if that were likely to happen, it would have done. And it hasn't. TOo many gays are jobless and rejected.

Sorry, I am not willing to be another body on the barricade, sacrificing myself and my family on the off chance that in 100 years some of the opposition will "get it". The "lie" makes perfect sense.

I speak as someone with the relative luxury of being able to be out, most of the time, but who spent a long period being closeted.

Yet still conscious that even so I must constantly come out over and over again in every new situation.

You're doing great, C. You are making great strides and only you can judge the pace.


Iris said...

Thank you for your witness. It inspires me to be the best ally I can be.

Cecilia said...

A message for Joni: I can't get to your blog through your profile. Could you leave the url in a comment?