I made a comment on Jamie's post at (e)mergent Voyaguers on his post titled: Homosexuality: A Personal Reflection.
My comment was this:
Vulnerability with this post could almost be an understatement. I commend your willingness to share such difficult things with us all. It has only been in the last year that I have really been willing to open myself up as a person that really wants to understand the homosexual community. Admittedly, I was a hard line critic of such a life. All the while using the Bible as my hammer. God has helped me in this greatly. I have a practicing homosexual woman that comes to my church and I want her to know she is as welcomed as anyone else and she won't be "judged" by us because of the way she chooses to live. I don't think she needs to be told she's wrong, I think she needs to be understood and encouraged in finding God's love for her.
A reader, whom I don't know and for her confidentiality I'll leave unnamed, emailed me this:
Dear Shannon (and Jamie),
You (neither one of you, as I lurk on Jamie's blog and only found your blog today Shannon) do not know me from anyone. But your post on (e)mergent Voyageurs
has just really prompted me to write. You say...I have a practicing homosexual woman that comes to my church and I want her to know she is as welcomed as anyone else and she won't be "judged" by us because of the way she chooses to live. I don't think she needs to be told she's wrong, I think she needs to be understood and encouraged in finding God's love for her.
The hurt is in being told that we (I am a gay person, bi-identified, living in a committed lesbian marraige) "choose" to live as a homosexual. Not all homosexuals have this "choice" as not all homosexuals identify bi-sexual or various types of trans-persons.
While you may not agree with her practice, maybe you should get to know that "woman at the well" and see her as Jesus does. And IS she welcomed as anyone else, will she be invited to serve in leadership, and will she, should the call come, be allowed to discern her path to ordination (like Jamie was able to)? Where will her glass ceiling be? I pray there will not be one, and that she will be truly welcomed in your church and is able to discover who God is shaping her to be.
Your last sentence indicates that she has not yet discovered God's love for her. You have a wonderful and beautiful gift in your church, someone who has decided that the church may just be a place where she can find God. I don't need to tell you how many people, especially the marginalized, are NOT looking to the church to provide answers to spiritual questions. They are happy to be "spiritual not religious." I pray that when we welcome these spiritual seekers, we can truly understand them, walk with them and hear what God has been up to in each of their journeys so far.
God Bless and be with you.
I responded to her email with grace, I hope.
Some of her points, however got me thinking. She asks if the woman attending my church would be truly welcome and able to serve in leadership or pursue ordination and to what extend will her glass ceiling be?
Let me first say, I believe homosexuality is contrary to God's word and His plan for mankind. I believe it is sin, plain and simple. But, I don't believe homosexuality is anymore of a sin than I believe lying, stealing, adultery, etc... is sin. If I hold such things to be sin according to scripture, am I bound to tolerate it in such a way that would compromise my convictions? I certainly hope not. I mean these are not preferences I'm talking about here, they're convictions based on God's inspired word. I can change a preference, no problem....I'd prefer scrambled eggs over sunny side up but it's not a conviction of mine. I will eat eggs prepared sunny side up, I just prefer scrambled. I can no more have a practicing adulterer in a leadership position in my church than I can a thief, liar, murderer or homosexual. Can I?!? God forbid. This is not prejudice, this is convictions from which I cannot waver. This particular woman that has begun coming to my church is as welcomed as anyone else. God knows that is the truth, but given her "chosen" lifestyle, I could not accept her in "leadership".
Jesus with the woman at the well truly had compassion. I think this is key. He also gave her a wake up call. He called her to the attention of her sin. Sin is at the center of the encounter. Through compassion, Jesus was able to get this woman to not only consider her complete and utter failings, her sin, but his compassion motivated her to change the way she lived. She no longer bounced around from man to man. She was changed.
Complexity is an understatement when dealing with homosexuality. I have a dear elderly couple in my church who's son is in the battle of his life with AIDS. He lived a homosexual lifestyle for quite sometime. He no longer is active in that lifestyle and is very committed to God. I'm not suggesting that God is meting out punishment on him, simply stating facts. I've talked with him and though he is very compassionate toward homosexuals, he wouldn't agree with the emailer's position I'm sure.
Have we become too soft in our convictions that we're afraid to call Right, right and Wrong, wrong or White, white and Black, black? When did this grey demilitarized zone come into play?
Though Jesus was abundantly compassionate, he never wavered in his convictions. Why should we?