Sunday, February 13, 2011

What I Actually Said

Well, you know about best-laid-plans, etc. A motion to limit comment to two minutes per person meant I had to slash my statement, which was really fine. It was more like this:

On Ash Wednesday 2009 I started a Lenten discipline of reading the daily lectionary passages, and I read the following, from Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians. Paul is talking about his own ministry:
As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”  "See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!" ~ 2 Cor. 6:1-2.

Paul goes on to describe the ways in which people have perceived him: he has received honor and dishonor, he has had both a good and a bad reputation, he has been regarded as an impostor, and yet as true.

I felt instantly that through this scripture God was speaking to me, about my situation. As I continued throughout Lent to read scripture daily, I continued to experience it as God nudging me, and on May 12, 2009 I sent my congregation a letter informing them that I was in a long-term committed relationship with another woman.

Long before I ever imagined I would be in such a relationship, I believed that God did indeed call people of all kinds and conditions into ministry, and my belief was grounded in scripture.
When Zachariah ecstatically prayed, “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet on the road to peace,” I believed him. 

And when Paul preached a gospel of faith and not works, urging that those previously considered unclean be admitted to the body of Christ, I believed him.

And when Jesus said that he came to proclaim release to the captives, and to let the oppressed go free, and when Jesus spent all his ministry opening doors that had been closed, and befriending the outcast, I believed him.

For centuries Christians used words found in scripture to justify slavery. But ultimately, we were persuaded that that was a wrong use of God’s holy word.

For centuries Christians used words found in scripture to justify excluding women from ministry of Word and Sacrament. But ultimately, we were persuaded that that was a wrong use of God’s holy word.
For centuries, Christians used Jesus’ own words to justify excommunicating those whose marriages ended in divorce. But ultimately, we were persuaded that that was a wrong use of God’s holy word.

all each of these cases we have been persuaded that love of God and love of neighbor reign supreme over the specific words formerly used to exclude, and in this, we have followed Jesus’ example.

Today, I ask you,
my friends and colleagues, my sisters and brothers in Christ, to vote to approve Amendment 10-A. I ask this so that those whom our Sovereign God calls might answer that call without fear.  I ask this so that churches and presbyteries who see and value those calls and gifts might be able to welcome all God’s people into ministry. And I ask this so that the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high, might at last break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and guide our feet on the road to peace. And I ask this so that we might put into action Jesus' commandment that we love one another as he has loved us.

I spoke about fifth, I think, out of perhaps 11 or 12 who spoke. Those who spoke against amendment 10-A talked of their need for scriptural standards, as if no argument from scripture is possible in favor of inclusion. They also, a few of them, spoke of their "sorrow" at needing to be opposed to glbtq ordination. That rings a little hollow; have your essential humanity questioned, the validity of your baptism, and then get back to me about your sorrow, ok?

As you can see, I didn't address the "clobber" passages (Romans 1:26-27 comes to mind). The intellectual dishonesty of those who insist on using the word "homosexual" in translating this is staggering to me. But those who believe this is the deciding word on the matter are not interested in hearing that all the activities described in this passage are the result of idol worship, and are described as "unnatural". Science shows us increasingly that same-sex love and attraction are entirely natural for a significant proportion of the population, both human beings and other species. And there is no passage of scripture, not one, which envisions a "natural" orientation to same-sex love which is lived out in long-term committed relationships. 

Not to mention Jesus' absolute silence on the matter.

But I'm preaching to the choir here. I know I don't have to convince you all. It's funny; it was harder to hear my colleagues speak against this issue yesterday than it was when I was closeted two years ago. Yesterday I took it more personally, because I am flying below the radar no longer. They know me. They know my congregation. They know my work. And still their hearts are hardened.

It's discouraging. And at the same time, it's freeing. I am who I am. I am held in the palm of God's hand, beneath the shadow of the divine wings. I have the love and support of my family and my Beloved and my friends and my church and many, many colleagues. I can live with that.


Pete Grassow said...

Well - please know that there is a colleague praying for you - and cheering you on! Love.

Fran said...

What you do - WHO you are, all of who you are, is so important to the world. Thanks for courageously choosing yourself and as a result, affirming justice, unity and hope.

angela said...

I know that you wrote this some time ago, but I'm just visiting today and am so in your corner. Three years ago I might have been confused, but the Lutherans were about to make a decision and I started praying...what to think (not of the literalists...but of this strange thing we are asked to judge by some people in our midst). What came of that was that God created Love before people and we are the ones who close ourselves from each other and God. We cannot help the human side of ourselves that loves or crushes on another person. Some of us are just more open to that than others. Which means to my mind that we are also more open to God. I dearly hope that the stance in the Presbyteriat changes and that hearts and minds open instead of just trying to rationalize their own prejudice that in fact closes them to loving their neighbor as themselves.

Bless you for writing so much and so well about yourself and God.