As I noted in yesterday's short post about meeting and sharing stories with some young LGBTQ people (after a recent bullying incident that had so-called religious overtones), I was stunned by the depth of integrity of these young people. They were clear-headed, honest and vulnerable with their mostly sad and poftencruel experiences with religion. Some openly lamented that they have been shut out from any formal relationship with the Sacred because of the fear and hateful words and acts of their former churches. (see yesterday's posting.)
Less than 24 hours later, I have received a few sweet notes of thanks and encouragement from these young men and women AND two guys stopped by Patrick's Pub last night to listen to the jazz band - and say thank you to me. And that really blew me away: how many times have I said, "yeah, I'll check it out" (as a youth or an old guy) but never get around to it, right? And these two dudes made a real effort to make a connection. I was so blessed!
I read the news today.... oh boy about the United Methodist Church once more affirming that homosexuality was incompatible with homosexuality. (check it out @ http://www. huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/methodists-homosexual-act-incompatible_n_1476042.html) In a gallows humor way, this announcement brought to mind Mark Twain's comment when asked, "Do you believe in infant baptism?" To which he said, "Believe in it, man, I've SEEN it!" Do you believe in homosexuality? Man, I've not only seen it, but I've seen that it is NOT incompatible with the way of Jesus.
Eleven years ago, on the Saturday after Easter, I had the privilege to united in marriage two of my dearest friends, John and Pete. It was the first same sex marriage I had blessed as a clergy person. When the guys asked me if I would do it, I knew of their long-term commitment and their faithful participation in our church. So we agreed to what has become my regular discipline of pre-marital conversations - and we agreed that we would not use any newly written "holy union/sacred blessing" liturgies but rather we would use the standard marriage liturgy I have used with hundreds of straight couples.
By the time their wedding rolled around, the church was packed. About half the guests were straight friends from our congregation and the other half from the queer community as the couple was active in the Tucson Gay Men's Chorus, Pride Day and a host of other supportive work in the wider LBGTQ community. The Gay Men's Chorus sang, the flowers were absolutely FABULOUS and the couple was radiant... BECAUSE the Holy Spirit was present and moving within and among us all. Much more could be said about the joy, hope, sorrow and beauty of the ceremony - and celebration that followed - but what is important here is that everyone experienced this wedding not only as sacred, but blessed by the Lord.
This was not incompatible with the way of Jesus, this was taking sacred vows seriously. Reverently. Consciously and compassionately.... to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer until you are separated by death? And while we have all moved to new places in our lives, John and Pete are still together sharing love and respect for one another and caring for the world with their lives in the wider community.
Someone once asked me, "Does it still matter in 2012 if churches become Open and Affirming? After all, in Massachusetts same sex marriage is the law." True, but there is still so much hatred, fear and cruelty that straight allies who honor the way of Jesus need to stand up and be counted in public. For staying in the shadows and tacitly aiding those who promote hatred... THAT is incompatible with the way of Jesus.
For those who would like a clear and thorough discussion of the Biblical issues, check out the following:
+ Matthew Vine's commentary @ http://matthewvines.tumblr.com/
+ Walter Wink's insights @ http://liferemixed.net/2011/07/08/wink-bible-homosexuality-2/
Friday, May 4, 2012
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