Steer towards the center

8 04 2007

A Response from the Center 

I would like to take some time to explain where I’m coming from with this whole “gay evangelical Episcopalian Christian” thing.  I actually have a few things to say to my conservative and progressive brethren (and sisteren!) in the church. 

To my conservative brethren (and sisteren!) in the church …  

I realize that the concept of being gay and Christian is not something that many of you can comprehend.  I realize the Bible says what it says and it’s not changing.  I recognize the arguments against the validity of same-sex relationships and understand where you are coming from … until a few years ago, I was there myself!  For quite a long time, I thought celibacy was my only option to live a life pleasing to God and still embrace who I was.  I saw myself as two people:  one gay, the other Christian, and neither the twain met.  I didn’t think it was possible for the twain to meet.  But through the grace of God, it did. 

As much as I respect your desire for being true to Scripture and tradition which has been passed down for 2,000 years, I have to say I have grown weary of having to defend my place in the body of Christ to those who will not see the grace of God at work in someone’s life.  I grow tired of being pointed to reparative therapy programs which do nothing but perpetrate self-loathing, hypocrisy, selfishness, deception to yourself and to loved ones … these things ultimately serve no purpose but to shut off and to pervert the ability to enter into a healthy relationship to anyone.  I grow weary of being told that if I do not choose that way, I must choose the way of celibacy and chastity … both are admirable callings, but the reality is that those who are so called to these lives are much fewer and farther between than there are gay people in the world.   

On this Easter Day, I proclaim that my salvation is found in nothing, no one and no other than the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, and is not dependant on my capacity to have or to act upon romantic feelings for another person.  Who I have the ability to fall in love with is not a determining factor of my “worthiness” to be called a Christian.

 

Too often we all fail to realize that gay Christians live in a type of exile, a captivity where being honest with ourselves and our friends means being shunned.  Both the gay community and the Church as a whole is embarrassed that we claim membership and desire membership in both.  Do you not realize the shock that my secular gay friends have when they realize that I take my faith very seriously?

To my progressive brethren (and sisteren!) 

I, for one, am grateful for your voice within the church, otherwise there would be no church where I could be who I am and live out my calling with integrity and honesty to God and those whom I am called to serve.  Without you opening my eyes to something deeper than a “plain reading” of Scripture (though a plain reading is important!), I fear that I would still feel as if I were two people.

 

At the same time, I express disappointment with you.  The same voices who not a few months ago within the Episcopal Church were saying how important it is that we all stay together are now ready to move away from the entire Communion … these voices are ready to give up and go it alone.  This is deplorable.

 

Be careful, or you may be labeled as fundamentalists yourself, but of a different stripe altogether.  Be careful of not being willing to see anything but your own reading of Scripture and Tradition.  Be careful of saying “we grant full inclusion to everyone, but only on our terms.” 

I am grateful for your calling to social justice, indeed with all of our squabbles, I think the Millennium Development Goals are just the thing we might need to rally around together.  HOWEVER … I fear if this becomes our only focus and we go to far with it, we might become secular humanists in ecclesial trappings. 

I guess what I’m saying here is, no one has the corner on truth … not even progressives.

 

The end result of this rant is ….

 

We all need each other.  We all need God to roll away the stones from our eyes and our hearts.  Progressives need conservatives to keep their causes grounded in Scripture and the Gospel, and Conservatives need progressives to keep pushing the envelope on what is already known.

 

The danger for one voice becoming too loud or too powerful is that the others will become marginalized (as conservatives are wont to say is their plight today).  If one or more voices are marginalized to the exception of another, then that becomes the perfect breeding ground for seeds of fear, feelings of being threatened, and the result is fundamentalism.

 

Too often we paint each other with a broad brush and come to preconceived conclusions about who we are and what we stand for, when a lot of this would be avoided if we simply learned to speak each others’ languages.

 

We should remember that … we are all Anglicans…we are all Episcopalians…and most importantly, we are all witnesses of the living and risen Christ.

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