Thank you all for your comments regarding my “not ordained anymore” post. I especially appreciate you saying I was brave, although the irony is embarrassing. One of the things I’d shared with John was that I felt terrible for not having approached him when I was gainfully employed by the church. So I feel like I was chicken through most of this, but I am so grateful for your words nonetheless. It’s wonderful to me how they’ve come from both those who agree with my views and those who don’t.
Below I’d like to offer some additional notes since a number of questions have come my way that I should answer. I’ve also discovered a few small points of clarification I should make.
1. ME vs WC — Please know that I still have a good relationship with the Wesleyan Church. I very much disagree with their position and behaviour with regards to people who are gay, and they with me. Both of us are concerned about each others beliefs. Yet I had no desire to cut ties or make them out to be a villain and me the hero. I did want to share with friends and family what happened and give them the entire story. Better from me than the ol’ grapevine, despite how tasty and juicy that grapevine can be.
Yes, I have had frustrations and still do, but so does everyone. It’s normal. I mean it when I say that the relationship bridge has not been burned. The ministers I met with are friends of mine. Becoming enemies and acting as if we’re on separate teams is ridiculous. It doesn’t have to be that way. I want nothing to do with instigating any animosity. If we want to grow, we have to listen to each other and respect one another. When groups are at odds with one another, it is common for a person who is approached about their behaviour to say something like, “What about them??” I hate hearing that. I’m still trying to teach my kids to not say this. Why on earth do grown adults do it? Obviously it’s difficult for both of us at times to deal with emotions seeing as we feel so strongly about what we believe, but we’re all mature adults here and our relationships mean a lot to us.
2. CHILDREN AND FAMILY — This is an important one… KIDS: I had shared that I was affected greatly by the question of what I’d have to say to a child of mine if they comes out of the closet and asked me to marry them. However, please don’t misunderstand this as a way of claiming to be a better dad than those who disagree with me. I would love to convince any minister to not deny their child who requests this, but my intention is not to puff myself up while putting others down. FAMILY: Similarly, if you have gay family members, and your relationship is good despite your belief that they’re wrong, I applaud you. Even more I applaud those family members for their understanding. That’s tough! But again, my aim is not to imply that you don’t love them. These are my convictions and I share them. That’s all.
3. LIFESTYLE vs LIFE — I’m sure you hear many refer to the phrase “gay lifestyle.” It’s important to understand that this is like referring to my life as a heterosexual lifestyle. It’s not a hobby or leisure pursuit. It’s life. Being gay is more than just sexuality.
4. THOSE BIBLE VERSES. I was intentionally vague about the “other biblical perspective” hoping that readers would seek it out themselves like I did. However, I’ve been asked quite a bit about this, so here it is in a coconut shell (it’s a little too long to fit in a nutshell):
As I’m sure we all understand, the Bible needs to be read and understood as a whole. We can’t read just the stories of the patriarchs or just the levitical laws (thank God for that) or just the Gospels. Nor can we take selected verses and not understand them in the context of the whole. For example, anyone who reads verses that seem to say that God is vengeful, angry and scary desperately need to keep reading. Finish the book and get the full story. So, as with most Christians, when I read the Bible (especially the Good News of the New Testament) I find it liberates us; not to sin and do evil, but to grow in grace. This happens continually throughout history. We grow as human beings and as Christians. We discover that interracial marriage isn’t wrong and we come to understand that the isolated verses don’t cancel that out. The Word as a whole leads us through every era. So when scientists discovered the world is round, we didn’t have to feel that our faith is attacked (though many back then did). The Spirit of the Word moved in Christians around the world to make a difference in the Abolitionist movement. The arguments for slavery, using the Bible, did not deter them because they understood the larger story of Scripture.
(One additional aside: Yes, slavery in Jesus day was very different from our recent experience with it. But it was still slavery and still had it’s horrific abuses and standards. You can find it all through the OT stories.)
So, humankind has grown in this area too. Sexuality has been explored since the beginning of time, but nothing like we have in the past 200 years. We understand more about our own psychology, how people tick, how relationships work, etc etc. We understand more today about sexuality than Paul ever did. To him, “homosexual acts” were immoral. And to the people of 2000 BC it was immoral. Some of the Roman culture allowed for it, but they were seen as people who allow for just about everything. There were a ton of things they found immoral back then that we can all be thankful are no longer considered so taboo. If you’re reading this and are female, chances are good that you’re allowed to go to church without a hat on. And if the circumstances were right for you, I’ll bet that you could chair the church board or preach a sermon without anyone getting worked up over it.
Again, we are talking about “being gay” and having the right to be so and to get married. The verses we’re talking about are focusing on condemning licentious sexuality outside of committed marriage relationships. Yes, when Christ spoke of marriage he only talked about heterosexual. It wouldn’t have made any more sense for him to bring up gay marriage than it would for him to bring up that the sun doesn’t revolve around us or for him to give instructions on labour rights. Simply put, we grow in our faith and God leads in new directions. It’s been that way since the beginning and we have always had difficulty with the changes.
No, I do not have any verses that say, “Being gay is ok.” For me the answer is in the theme and metanarrative of grace and mercy over law and judgment. It’s all through the Bible, Old and New. I realize that many see this as watering down the Bible, but I must say I can relate: to me, reading these verses and using them to condemn people for being gay is watering down the gospel.
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
One last thing. I also enjoy talking over an ice cold pop. Either way, I’d rather McDonald’s than Tim’s. Just some clarification there.