Open and Affirming
God is at work calling many who are gay or lesbian into the ordained ministry.
For Presbyterians (PCUSA) that means called to be Deacons, Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders (minister of the Word and Sacrament). We also want to call them for our next potluck, mission trip, committee meeting and book group! Our denomination recognizes the ordination of gays and lesbians and Genesis also rejoices in the diversity of God’s children. Everyone is welcome (at every level) at Genesis.
While it is an honor and charge to put words into the community on our congregation’s behalf. This is never more complex than around issues of social justice like our society and the church’s embrace or rejection of homosexuals.
I believe Jesus’ commandments of love, reformed theology that takes seriously our developing understanding of eternal things, and faithful reading of scripture require a shift from the judgment and exclusion in which I was raised.
We pray a prayer of illumination to help us listen for the Word of God and this requires acknowledging there is not a direct one-to-one correlation between the handful of verses in the Bible relevant to homosexuality and what God is speaking to us today.
And, as with most social justice issues there is some room for interpretation between “Letting justice roll down like waters…” and working out the plumbing. And mere acceptance here is not enough. At Genesis our New Beginnings process has helped us realize that Going Public is vital.
My own growing edge: In wanting Genesis to be inclusive is it possible to be also inclusive of those who think differently (on this and other topics?) My Calvinist roots have developed in me a keen suspicion of my self-righteousness and “knowing” I finally have cornered God’s wisdom – on ANY topic. A measure of humility is certainly in order here.
I don’t want “being nice” to get in the way of professing what I truly believe to be a justice issue: I really do think our denomination’s and congregation’s stance for equality here is the correct and Biblical one! And it took us some time (decades really) for us to hear the Spirit moving around in certain ways and places to get to this point…
For example: We are rejoicing around Genesis that the Boy Scouts have changed their policy recently and been public about affirming gay young men taking part in their programs. They have not yet however changed their official stance prohibiting gay adults from taking part in their leadership. This is not an easy issue for them to address. But since we take great pride in our Troop 640 and their wonderful ministry beneath our roof we are having some pretty interesting conversations around here about our role in both celebrating and sponsoring their programs. How do we proceed in love, inclusion, and justice?
Ah! It is all so clear to me: I am going to need more prayer. From my congregation and leadership and friends and family. And I am going to have to preach on grace more – preachers always preach on what they most need to hear.