Historically, I wasn’t very good at noticing emotions when they are small. In fact, for the longest time I really only noticed emotions when they became too overwhelming to ignore. This was not an effective strategy. It led to really painful interpersonal conflict and meant I spent a lot of time running away from emotional […]
The recent debate over the marriage
canon of the Anglican Church of Canada has revealed at least two
major theological fault line, both deeply underexamined. One is how
we think about gender, both in the order of creation and in the order
of redemption, and in our language about God and humanity; whether
our scripture and tradition actually tie us into a simple gender
binary to anything like the extent we have believed for the last few
centuries. The other is how we think about the theological nature of
covenant partnership (and, secondarily, how this relates to the
institutions known as “marriage” at various times and places).
At the moment I am mostly making forays
towards the first question, not with any idea that it can be resolved
forever, but in an attempt to at least slightly complicate and deepen
some of our thinking. I’ve also glanced at the second…
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As Vancouver Pride is just around the corner (August 2-4) and New West Pride coming up August 17 (Saturday), I’ve been mulling around in my head what Pride means to me and what it entails and why I celebrate it. I had been an evangelical Christian since I was in my twenties and believed being gay (or more clearly practicing homosexuality) was a sin and was to be avoided and suppressed… which was what I did for over twenty years. However, after many agonizing years of trying to get “cured”, I walked away from the church and God, finally embracing that part of myself. My first Pride was 2008 in Vancouver. I just started dating a guy and he was in town for the festivities and of course I came along. We did the bars, some of the Pride events, and watched the Pride parade. I was overwhelmed with emotion at all the people who were gay and their allies. I felt I came home, that I found where I belonged. There has been No other time have I ever felt that way until recently when I came back to God.
Pride is about protesting and letting people know the injustices that so many in the LGBTQ+2 have suffered for so many years. It’s now evolved into a celebration, of the progress that has been made but we still have a long way to go before total acceptance. Some have wondered why there is not straight pride… well the answer is quite simple. There is a straight pride. It happens 7 days a week 365 days of the year, there is no fear of losing your job, your home, being beaten up and ridiculed simply because of who you love! So, Pride represents those who have been marginalized, and cast out. Fortunately, with the progress that has happened in the last 50 years. (I was a young child when it was still illegal to be gay) there is reason to hope. The Anglican Church of Canada recently had their General meeting or otherwise called “General Synod”. In this series of meetings, they discussed and voted on various things pertaining the church and how they interacted to the world around them. One of them among many was the motion to include same sex marriage in the Canon (rules of the church), which they discussed and voted. Unfortunately, the motion was defeated by a very slim margin, however many of the Bishops who had voted “yes”, decided to go ahead and allow same sex marriages within their own diocese anyways. Pride is still a protest and a way to keep the debate alive to keep moving forward to full acceptance. Also, during the August long weekend there is also an event called “Spirit Pride”, which is put on by St Andrews-Wesley United church and is being hosted by Christ Church Cathedral. It’s a conference about LGBTQ+2 Spirituality and runs in tandem with Pride.
I am not here to debate the scriptures about it, and not interested in hearing that side of the story as I’ve heard it all before, and have spent a lot of time studying scriptures and hear divergent views on same sex attraction. My conclusion, God loves us all no matter and that being Gay is not a sin. I recommend getting know Gay Christians, find out how they tick, what they love, their passions and interests. You’ll find they are not so different from the rest of us. An excellent resource is Kathy Baldock’s ”Walking the Bridgeless Canyon: Repairing the Breach Between the Church and the LGBT Community”. I challenge you to take a second look at the scriptures, keeping cultural context in mind. Who was it written to, and why? what is the background, the culture of the day, the language they used?
When you isolate your self from the “other” you miss the richness of diversity and shortchange yourself. Get to know them, be friends, DON’T JUDGE! You will be surprised what you will find when you open your eyes and mind. God is much bigger than our own theology and our own perception of Him.
When I finally came to accept myself and God’s Love, that is when I truly felt I belonged… No other time in my life have I ever recalled being full of emotion than when I came to myself and realized that I was not an abomination, that God LOVED ME and accepted me. I am part of two Christian communities, St. Andrews Wesley United Church and St Brigids Community @ Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican Church of Canada) who both completely accept and affirm of LGBTQ2+ people. I’ve come full circle since the day I decided to walk away from all I had come to know about God, but now I am whole and know I am loved.
When we come to accept one another and not judge, when we embrace the “other” and seek to know them as a human being, when we finally realize that Gods diversity is much more than we can imagine, that His love is BOUNDLESS, Pride may no longer be needed, as we would all CELEBRATE our individuality and accept one another as children of God no matter who we love!!!
Other resources to consider:
The darkness of night flees…
It is the Sun as she makes her way over the rim of the world…
But she is shrouded in clouds, her warmth denied.
Yet it is calm,
As the world stirs and awakens, the hustle and bustle of life begins to move.
It’s another day
to feel, and
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Yesterday (Friday night) the guys in the service and sales department at my work place threw a little party at the end of the day. Alcohol and BBQ smokies were provided along with Danny’s DJ skills and a couple of Video games to play including soccer. It was a pretty fun time as we played frisbee, soccer on tv, danced, drank and ate smokies. We all let our hair down and had fun. I felt the most connected with these guys than I have ever before especially now that they know my sexuality. It wasn’t an issue. In fact, I talked to Brian who I’ve worked with for many years and he was completely ok with it and gave me a bear hug meant a tremendous amount to me. He wasn’t squeamish about hugging a gay guy and that spoke volumes about his character.
I’ve had my share of difficulties at this company but most of it was me dealing with personal stuff. I think after last night, I am more determined to work harder, do better and hope I can enjoy my job much more than I have before.
Perhaps another 16 years at ECM.
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An old friend of mine responded to a post I did on Facebook this past week. The post itself was
“A Letter to our Conservative Parents” which I thought was enlightening and helpful in understanding the younger generation and where they are. My friend responded with the usual “evangelical/ fundamentalist” talking points I usually see in those circles. I was surprised and I graciously responded in which he in turn replied with a “fire and brimstone” response.
It’s obvious he wont budge on his position and I am sad to see the anger come out in his writing. I decided to walk away and not respond any further.
I am saddened by the polarization of society in general. It started with politics then religion and it now seems its in most areas of life.
It scares me as I see our society continue this downward spiral and the evangelical community blames it on some sort of “end times” scenario even though they are responsible for most of the division that is happening. So stuck in their position, they wont even talk to the so-called “Godless Heathens”, isolating themselves just in case they get polluted by our evil ways….
Talking helps with understanding and acceptance or at least respect, but all I see is fear and hate.
Anyhow, life goes on and I am determined to make this another good day for myself and others around me..
My prayer today is to be a light to those who I encounter, that I would respond in a manner that is uplifting and constructive. I will not allow myself to get so self absorbed that I forget the greater picture. May my emotions reflect the God who lives in me, beside me and above and below me…
Sermon Excerpts Regarding Faith and Human Sexuality
John Wilkinson, Pastor
Third Presbyterian Church, Rochester, NY
March 3, 2019 (Transfiguration)
I have been thinking about our friends in the United Methodist Church a great deal this week, as well as our friends in the Roman Catholic Church, and, more remotely, the Southern Baptist Convention, a confluence of news about church leadership and power and human sexuality.
My grandfather, my dad’s dad, was a Methodist until my grandmother won the coin flip at the wedding. My in-laws were United Methodist missionaries. One of my degrees is shared with two historically Methodist institutions. Some of my best friends are Methodist!
I have been thinking about them this week as their General Conference voted to extend prohibitions on LGBTQ ministerial service and marriage equality. I wasn’t going to say much. To put it crassly, it’s none of my church business. We Presbyterians took a very long time to get where we got, and where we are now is far from perfect. And even then, where we got took a toll, a significant toll, churches departing on one end of the spectrum and countless Presbyterians leaving across the years because their conscience would not allow them to stay. Or, staying, deeply closeted, hiding that very core part of who they were in order to serve, in order to persist.
Commentary is all over the place, even within the portion of the church world that disagrees with the decision. Should people stay? Should they go? What will the future look like? I have no wisdom to offer, except to reach out, as I have, either personally or on your behalf, to affected partners.
I always chose to stay, as did the churches I was privileged to serve, and never once considered leaving, or withholding, a theological commitment to unity and a political commitment to change within, and also because my own ordination was never threatened. Others chose to leave, sadly, sad for their own sense of being rejected by the church they loved and sad for the church’s loss of gifted leadership. We pray for the United Methodist Church without hoping to meddle, or condescend.
I was talking to a friend on Friday. He had been a Presbyterian minister, and a good one. He was outed, and then decided to set aside his ordination – a true act of integrity and courage. Later, when we changed our minds, he began the ordination process again, and is now serving, faithfully and well, in a congregation. Think about that story, and his journey, and those of so many others.
Every so often I am reminded that it’s good to re-articulate things, so here goes. Once you believe that people are, in the timeless words of Oscar-winner Lady Gaga, “born this way,” and once you decide that same-gender intimacy is no more or no less sinful than opposite-gender intimacy, and once you believe in baptism, and once you believe that the Holy Spirit calls who the Holy Spirit will call, then the rest is pretty clear, or so it seems to me. That’s not in spite of the Bible but because of it; it’s not a rejection of our tradition but an affirmation of it; it’s not an accommodation to the culture, but a transformation of it.