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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gay Pride

Last night I picked up a lady in the taxi and we got talking about unsociable working hours which led her to tell me that she was a chef which is why she understood my situation. Upon inquiring she told me that she worked at "The Gateway" which is the pub where I am going to start church.

"You might have heard of me, then", I said. "I'm the Baptist minister who is starting church upstairs in November."

Once we got to her destination we had a wonderful conversation about God, faith, church and discrimination. She hadn't really given religion much thought but was interested in what I was doing. She made the point that the fact that I was just there in the pub was an important statement and that people there would support my efforts.

What moved me most was that, just before getting out of the taxi, she looked at me and said "I am very proud of you." Wow. This lady, a lesbian herself, who had no connection with the church gave me such affirmation and support and I was truly humbled and encouraged. I promised to say hello next time I am in the pub and she has said she wants to pop up when I am doing church.

God is doing some great work.


Theresa Seeber said...

Well, last night I had a discussion with my husband that has been a long time coming. He has agreed with me about the church needing to be more compassionate and inclusive of those who are gay, even those who are actively living the gay lifestyle. But he has watched me question this issue from every angle imaginable, even as I have gone into very treacherous ground. (I think God searches the Earth looking for people to stick their necks out and He finds people like me....) Anyway, I have gone far and wide and deep into this subject of gay marriage, acceptance of gay people by the church, by God, and so on. I have walked through the proverbial valley of the shadow of death, leaving myself wide open to attacks by the enemy and friends alike. I have questioned the meaning of texts in the Bible that discuss homosexual activity as sin - not the validity or authority of the text, but our understanding of them. I have placed myself in the place of a man or woman wanting to marry a person of the same gender here in California, where the right to do so or not is a Proposition on our ballot this week. I have placed myself in the place of the government whose role it is to interpret our legal systems, writings and powers that be (like our Constitution, and equal rights). I have placed myself in the shoes of the fundamental, conservative Christian (which are by and large my own shoes, although I am starting to realize that life is not black and white, liberal and conservative, etc. and that we need to reevaluate the quality of our shoes ... another subject for another day). I have put myself in the place of the liberal Christian. I have shared privately with friends the emotions and struggles they face as a gay couple, and with friends who minister lovingly and acceptingly to gay teens.

I have been so blessed by this journey, which I never thought was about me being blessed, but about others. Yet the blessing has come, and I feel that I have been given a gift from God, a gift of love, and sensitivity, and humility, and understanding, and acceptance, of people in this walk of life in such a time as this. I am not boasting, because I will continue to struggle along in this thing called life, failing and succeeding in many ways as we all do often. But I feel God has gifted me and called me into a freedom that I did not have before. I am eager to see what He has for me next. For us all.

I think it is important to note at this point that although the Bible never says gay orientation is a sin, nor that love in any manner is, it does talk about gay activity in ways that cause me to think it is indeed sinful. Wait! Don't stop reading please! I am not done. God tells us in the Bible, through authors of various parts of it, that we are to not engage in homosexual activity. It is there, and I cannot deny it any longer, even though I tried to from every angle imaginable over the course of the last couple months. BUT it also says to love your neighbor as yourself, and I am not loving my neighbor if I tell them homosexuality is an unpardonable sin, like somehow if they do not magically or miraculously "become straight" they will burn in Hell. Nor will I tell my non-Christian gay friends that they have to stop being gay because God said so. He did not. There is a difference between the undeniable, unchangeable gayness of some people versus the pursued lifestyle. Further, the New Testament clearly discourages holding people accountable for their sin if they are not walking with God.

I will stand on the Bible's call for God's people not only in its charge for us to live sexually wholesome lives, but also in its charge for us to love one another. I absolutely refuse to display "Vote Yes on Prop 8" signs in my yard, or on my car, because of the pain it inflicts on people God loves. I will not condemn people who choose to live in the gay lifestyle, even Christians, because I may not be able to see past the 2X4 sticking out of my eye well enough to try to pull the splinter out of theirs. This might be a hard message for my friends to hear from me.... My gay friends may think I have turned against them, and I pray earnestly that does not happen! I love you! My conservative Christian friends may think my stand not strong enough, and I pray that does not happen either, as our battle in this life is not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen powers that be, and we have a prowling enemy who would have us war against each other in condemnation until we no longer see Jesus' love for our neighbor. Condemning people for their sin distracts us from the good news of Jesus. He loves us all! Every single one. And we all fall short of the glory of God. It is time we wake up and see the need for healing, for repair, in the church and its response to this group of people we have so wronged with our unacceptance - not of the gay lifestyle, but of them as people, made by God, loved by God.

Rejoice in this day. If you are gathering with other believers on a Sunday morning in the near future, and a gay couple walks through the doors of the place you gather together, do not scorn them, but show them the same love God shows you, be a friend to them, treat them as you would any other visitor. (Remember not long ago some were taught black people were not fully human. Look how wrong that was, and look at how many networks of the church preached it and thought their right to own slaves was Biblical.) How can we show anybody Jesus' love unless we show it not only in word, but in deed as well? How can they think God loves them if they are not even welcome in the place where His people gather to seek Him?

Like I said at the start of my journey, we the church in the Postmodern, Western world can do better with this people group. The question is, how?

Theresa Seeber said...

Hmm. A lot has changed since I wrote that one. See this link. I have dug deeper and found not all is as it seems to be in the gay-is-a-sin argument. I no longer hold it.