Friday, June 20, 2014

I don't get it

Because I have never lived it.

Last night I went with Kerry and Nikki to a panel discussion called "At the intersection: LGBT and the Black Church."

It was really interesting and thought provoking and heart breaking.  I heard stories about the wounds and rejection of the LGBTI community in churches that consider homosexuality a sin.  I heard about people who were allowed to do their ministry as long as they did not reveal who they were.And I heard about depression and suicides.

What is always hard for me is the fact that I love the church and believe in the power of the community and love of God that is experienced in a church that is trying to be guided by Jesus and the word of God.  What
really frustrates me is people who say they take the Bible literally and use this wonderful sacred text to dismiss and revile spirit hungry people. And the church which is - I believe - called to be a "laboratory of love" instead becomes a place where people leave traumatized.  I cannot imagine what it is like to be a faithful Christian who is gay who must listen to their preacher tell them they are going to go to Hell.

So....I don't get it.  I don't get this interpretation of the Bible and I don't get why anybody would stay under those circumstances. Someone said that they stayed for a while because they were still spiritually fed even though they themselves were not celebrated.  I did hear people say that at some point "enough is enough" and they leave.  And one woman said "when you are real about who you are, then your relationship with God goes deeper."

I really appreciated one man who stood up and said, "I've been delivered.  I've been delivered from being delivered."  And he made the very good point that the LGBTI community should get to really study the Bible themselves so that they might understand that Sodom and Gomorroh is not about sodomy but hospitality and that Adam and Eve is a story that is not meant to say that marriage is being a man and a woman.  And they should read with understanding and enlightenment the words of Paul and see the writings of Leviticus in context and most of all know that our Lord Jesus said NOT ONE WORD about homosexuality.  we do not have to reject the Bible in order to love and welcome and celebrate all people.

So, I was glad I was there and I hope my contribution (yes, I actually spoke in the meeting....saying that if you want to do something for the children, let them see gays and lesbians in leadership in the church.  Which means finding a church where you can be in leadership - there are more and more of us out there) was appropriate and helpful.

Most of all, I am still left with the clear understanding that as a white, straight woman who comes from a  mainline denomination - there are limits to my really understanding how difficult it is to walk away from the church tradition that was part of your childhood.

All I know for sure is that my God is a God of love and invitation and welcome of all people.  And as a shepherd, it is my task to lead and care for  the sheep.  If there is any changing to be done in any of us - that is up to God.

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