Tag Archive: GLBTQ


Part of the Solution

For those of you in the Midwest, remember the billboard series (I think the Roman Catholic Church paid for them) that were brief memos from God? You know the , brief inspirational ones. They were cute and a great way to reach the masses as they were stuck in their daily commute.

But how would you like it if you received this one from God:

Dear Lost Soul,

I hate you. I hate everything about you. I made a mistake and made you wrong. You are junk and unworthy of my love. I have a reputation to uphold, and this isn’t working for me, so I shall be distancing myself from you and will taking no responsibility for any of your flaws. I have instructed my son who is in charge of terrestrial relations as well as my staff to do the same. I’m sorry, but it is just standard procedure to sever all ties with defects.

Best of luck making it through life alone,

God

I think we can all admit that would be a very hard memo to handle. Hyperbole, no doubt and it truly contradicts everything the Gospel proclaims.

But for many GLBTQ teens, this is how they view life. They have been mocked, ridiculed, and rejected from so many facets of life, that it seems that even God hates them with the Church leading the charge. Imagine what a burden that would be–to think that even Christ rejects you.

It happens all the time in church-sanctioned discrimination and homophobia. And I’m not talking about the whackjob extreme fringe that carries signs that say, “God Hates Fags.” I’m talking about mainstream religion that either bangs home the You Were Made Wrong Gospel of Biblical Authority (or as I have blogged about in the past the I’m Right-You’re Wrong. I’m big-You’re Small approach to biblical bullying.)

It either outright rejects the GLBTQ community, proclaiming it immoral and stratifies it as something far worse than any other sin, it places caveats on sexual identity, creating bogus psychological diagnoses on it (aka the faux diagnosis of Same Sex Attraction) that can be,  at best.  cured with enough prayer and reeducation (read: enough guilt, bullying  and self-loathing) or suppressed into the isolation of forced celibacy.

Even this week, a mainstream religious organization made the news for making such proclamations. This weekend Boyd Packer, president of the LDS (ie, mormon) Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (ie, the highest echelon of Mormon leadership) hammered that home this past week at the LDS’ Semi-Annual conference in Salt Lake City, a conference attended by 100,000 in person. It may be easy to say pffft and blow it off as the Mormon’s odd views on marriage. But his message was televised to millions of Mormons around the world, and translated into 92 languages. In his message he states that homosexuality is something that is NOT inborn.

To justify his assertion, he said, “Why would our heavenly father do that to anyone?”

Packer adheres to the party line that one can Pray the Gay Away. He dismisses any other schools of thought as something sinister that is inspired by none other than the devil himself.

What a great message to send a suffering teen: God didn’t make you that way. You made a choice to be a deviant. In fact Satan is the one helping you make that bad choice.

Luckily the Human Rights Campaign was quick to respond. HRC president Joe Solomonese said yesterday:

When a faith leader tells gay people that they are a mistake because God would never have made them that way and they don’t deserve love, it sends a very powerful message that violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable. It also emotionally devastates those who are LGBT or may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identify. His words were not only inaccurate, they were also dangerous.

But it isn’t just the Mormons that espouse this church-sanctioned bullying. Mainstream Lutherans do it as well.  Unlike the ELCA that has actively decided to cast a wider net of inclusiveness, the Missouri Synod is still very much in the church-sanctioned bullying camp. In fact in 1992, the LCMS drafted a resolution to develop a plan of Ministering to Homosexuals and Their Families  and in it cities their document Human Sexuality,  A Theological Perspective which allows very little room for discussion by proclaiming:

Whatever the causes of such a condition may be, . . . homosexual orientation is profoundly ‘unnatural’ without implying that such a person’s sexual orientation is a matter of conscious, deliberate choice. However, this fact cannot be used by the homosexual as an excuse to justify homosexual behavior. As a sinful human being, the homosexual is accountable to God for homosexual thoughts, words and deeds.” (Human Sexuality, A Theological Perspective, p. 35)

Of course, the Missouri Synod appears to be doing it out of Christian Love. (Here’s the part of the essay where you need to picture me making air quotes and rolling my eyes.) The policy talks about bearing each other’s burdens and hating the sin, not the sinner (more rolling the eyes, by the way.) But it places caveats on forgiveness. It sets forth a list of demands and paves the way for bullying. The plan includes the following:

… 2. to confront the individual with his/her sinfulness, and call him/her to repentance;  3. to help the individual recognize that God can rescue individuals from homosexual orientation and practice; 4. to assure him/her of forgiveness in Christ, contingent upon sincere repentance and faith in Christ, and to assure him/her of the love and acceptance of the church; 5. to assist the individual to rely on Christ’s love and strength to abstain from homophile behavior;…

It’s nothing more than another exercise in I’m Right, You’re Wrong. I’m Big, You’re Small.  But it goes one step further and includes the threat, And if you want God to love you, you have to do what I say.

So let’s go back to what Packer said,  Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?  But let’s turn it back on him. And ask a parallel question.

In this day and age of intolerance and bullying, where laws (eg, Calfornia’s Proposition 8) are specifically written for the sole purpose of taking human rights away, and where churchs continue to bang home the message that God hates you, why would anyone actively chose to be GLBTQ?

I mean, seriously, why would anyone want to seek out harassment, threats of beatings or death, family shunning, rejection from church or a mantra heard over and over again that they were made wrong?

It’s time to really put aside man-made constructs that it’s a “choice” and a sin that one can chose not to pursue. It’s time to close the Bible to cudgel verses uses to marginalize and promote  heteronormative privlege.

How many more deaths either from hate-related violence or suicide need to happen before people realize that practices are Unchristian and Inhumane. How many more GLBTQ teens need to feel that there is no where to turn because everyone–including God–has turned their backs on them? How many need to endure extra hurdles on a path to salvation that the heteronormative culture does not need to jump?  How many times do they need to be “confronted” by leaders telling them that they are Wrong?

We can chose to hide behind Scripture and use it as an excuse to discriminate. But as the old cliche says, when you point a finger, there are three pointing back at you. We can chose to allow bullying to continue and turn a blind eye to the next child that throws himself off a bridge. We can chose to hide behind religion to mask our own fears and insecurities.

Or we can chose to be better than that.

Unlike sexual identity, THOSE are choices each and everyone of can make.

There is meme that is currently circulating around the internet which really does bring home the message of bearing each others burdens:

I am the girl kicked out of her home because I confided in my mother that I am a lesbian.
I am the man who died alone in the hospital because they would not let my partner of twenty-seven years into the room.

I am the person who is afraid of telling his loving Christian parents he loves another male.

I am the prostitute working the streets because nobody will hire a transsexual woman.

I am the sister who holds her gay brother tight through the painful, tear-filled nights.

We are the parents who buried our daughter long before her time.

I am the foster child who wakes up with nightmares of being taken away from the two fathers who are the only loving family I have ever had. I wish they could adopt me.

I am one of the lucky ones, I guess. I survived the attack that left me in a coma for three weeks, and in another year I will probably be able to walk again.

I am not one of the lucky ones. I killed myself just weeks before graduating high school. It was simply too much to bear.

We are the couple who had the realtor hang up on us when she found out we wanted to rent a one-bedroom for two men.

I am the person who never knows which bathroom I should use if I want to avoid getting the management called on me.

I am the mother who is not allowed to even visit the children I bore, nursed, and raised. The court says I am an unfit mother because I now live with another woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who found the support system grow suddenly cold and distant when they found out my abusive partner is also a woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who has no support system to turn to because I am male.

I am the father who has never hugged his son because I grew up afraid to show affection to other men.

I am the home-economics teacher who always wanted to teach gym until someone told me that only lesbians do that.

I am the man who died when the paramedics stopped treating me as soon as they realized I was transsexual.

I am the person who feels guilty because I think I could be a much better person if I did not have to always deal with society hating me.

I am the man who stopped attending church, not because I don’t believe, but because they closed their doors to my kind.

I am the person who has to hide what this world needs most, love.

 

Until we realize that THIS is bearing another’s burdens and we practice hospitality and acceptance without pseudoscience, fear-driven dogma and clobber verses, then we are nothing more than the problem

…or keep it up, you’re proving what I don’t like about organized religion.

I’ve been planning to do make a post about this all week, but alas, packing for vacation and tying up loose ends at work has pushed this post back a few days. As usual, some spectacular bloggers Obie and Brant have already weighed in on it.  I don’t want to rehash their wonderful thinky thoughts, but I would like to expand on the concepts of the proverbial big tent and–on the flipside– the intolerance of exclusivity.

Like many early Christians, Martin Luther took the concept of priesthood of all believers and ran with it. And this is one of the concepts that keeps me a Lutheran despite my skepticism of man-made constructs that annoy me in organized religion. Luther didn’t coin the phrase, but he definitely embraced it:

That the pope or bishop anoints, makes tonsures, ordains, consecrates, or dresses differently from the laity, may make a hypocrite or an idolatrous oil-painted icon, but it in no way makes a Christian or spiritual human being. In fact, we are all consecrated priests through Baptism, as St. Peter in 1 Peter 2[:9] says, “You are a royal priesthood and a priestly kingdom,” and Revelation [5:10], “Through your blood you have made us into priests and kings.” (An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation.)

The passage reminds me of an illustration from my grandmother’s children’s bible where all of the believers surrounded Christ in white robes and crowns.  It’s an image that has stuck with me for nearly forty years–we aren’t born into nobility. It is through our service to Christ that we become royalty.  It isn’t something bestowed by a priest, bishop or church body. It something offered freely to all through Grace. Believe and it shall be yours.

Yet there is still that pesky man-made judgment that tries to narrow down that royal court. You know, the sanctimonious WE that has declared themselves worthy, and the rest of us lowlife apostates are lucky if we get the paper cups and folding chair version of Heaven.

It’s just another form of bullying to push the agenda of I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m big, you’re small. If you think it has anything remotely to do with Christ, then I want no part of your “Christian” agenda.

We all know there are now volumes of criticism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for its decisions to become a Church that welcomes an uncloseted and noncelibate GLBTQ community at all levels including ordination and rostering. And there is no doubt that there is now v. 2.bazillion of finger pointing, name calling and judging that is circulating after the recent ELCA Rite of Reception when it welcomed seven openly GLBTQ ministers into the roster of the ELCA where they had been banned prior to the 2009 CWA decision on sexuality.

No surprise CORE pounced on it. And the Missouri Synod blogosphere is up in arms. Obie linked to the Brothers of John the Steadfast, one of the ultraconservative blogs of the Missouri Synod. I don’t know why I clicked on it. Maybe my blood pressure wasn’t high enough for the day. I knew the blog itself would bash and/or mock the ELCA press release. But what shocked me was the tone in the comments that were nothing short of hate-filled, homophobic and downright elitist complete the I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m big, you’re small attitude.

And many of these hate-filled comments are coming from pastors and leaders:

Yes, I do point out the homophobia. One poster goes as far to mock Rev. Megan Roher, a transgendered Lutheran pastor:

/scratches head

Hmm…

/more head scratching

I need a “plumbing” diagram I think. On second thought… not a good idea.


Then there are the accusations that we ELCA Lutherans aren’t Christian enough, aren’t Christians at all, and are definitely not Lutheran. I’m sorry, but I not have time such juvenile name calling such as ELC-Gay, unrepentant heretical ELCA,

And then there is this gem of a comment,because hide your babies and beadwork. The ELCA defectors, conservative as they may be are NOT conservative enough to meet LCMS muster:

apostate is as apostate does. ELCA is no longer Christian, period, let alone Lutheran. So if one leaves the ELCA do they come over to the LCMS which is fast becoming an american evangelical church?

Careful kids, the ELCA defectors may destroy the moral fabric of the Missouri Synod of they should join:

What really concerns me in all of this, apart from the ELCA continuing its drift away from any notion of what it is to be ‘Lutheran,’ is the possibility of those fed up leaving for the LCMS, or other more confessional Lutheran church body.

The reason this concerns me is how many of these people have been members since the ELCA ordained female clergy and not had a problem with it…. or at least not enough of a problem to do anything about it. These ‘conservatives’ leaving the ELCA could become the new ‘liberals’ in the LCMS.

And then, if that is not enough to push my buttons, the giant brush of Better than You, the critics toss Valparaiso University into the list of apostates for 1) open communion for all who gather at the Chapel of the Resurrection 2) Allowing not only an ELCA minister to serve beside the other two LCMS ministers as University Pastors but allowing that pastor to be a woman! (quick, faint of heart, clutch those pearls in horror!) and 3) Allowing that ELCA minister to have a ministry reach specifically to the campus’ GLBTQ community:

My question is: Why is LCMS teaming with ELCA pastors who ” extended hospitality and care to many in the university community, including international students, women and Alliance, a community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students” ? (according to LCMS Pastor Cunningham) Where is the LCMS care/warning to parents who send their children to such Lutheran Campus Ministries? Better a millstone…..

That’s right, folks. Don’t let those evil liberal quasi-Lutherans in Indiana corrupt your children! For the record, as a proud alumna of Valparaiso and its honors college Christ College, I really take offense at such histrionics. Sure, you might want to warn your kids if you don’t want their eyes opened to a broader exposure than what the MS wants you to see. Then by all means, warn them. Hide them and protect them from inclusive practices.

And then it gets better. There IS a pastor that warns his congregation about Valpo. It’s an evil place that lets gays attend its classes side by side with hetersexuals!! Better yet, he condemns it because it is more than a preacher/teacher college (read: it teaches evils like science and such heretical concepts such as evolution, round-earth geography, and women’s studies!)

Valpo ceased being Lutheran many years ago in every way except in its name. With the ever increasing number of non church worker related course being offered at our own Universities, I have the same concern about them. They give out more and better scholarships to those not in the church worker programs. I know because two of my chidlren attended one of the Concordias. I warn children as much as a pastor is able. Please note that many of the things that effect Valpo also effect our Concordias! I know of at least four where there is open communion practices in the campus chapel and such things. I am confident that our campuses also have their share of homosexuals attending classes. Whether they are open or not I would not know. I know that our seminaries while they do a great job, must not convince some people because I had the unfortunate obligation as a circuit counselor to preach in a congregation whose pastor admitted he was a homosexual and had been since early in his college days. This is not a condemnation of what the seminaries are doing but I am simply pointing out a fact of how well they are able to disguise themselves as being non homosexuals.

That’s great. Fear and guilt disguised as college counseling! For the record, I entered Valpo as a Missouri Synod Lutheran like half of the population that attends VU. I was one of those heretics that majored in two sciences: biology and chemistry. While Valpo has its fair share of pre-seminary and deaconess students, I’ll admit it’s not a preacher mill. It never will be a preacher/teacher institution like the Concordias. But area where it proudly succeeds is being a top notch, nationally recognized university that, year after year, promotes tolerance and acceptance while at the same time fostering future leaders in science, business, medicine, academics and religion that never forget the Christian-based education that they received.

This type of intolerance is exactly why I left the Missouri Synod and never looked back. Want to know why I was so disillusioned with organized religion for a decade and didn’t claim any affiliation? Read those hate-filled comments and you will have an answer. Fear, guilt and judgment of those who dare to question the heteronormative, patriarchal power structure of the Missouri Synod that promotes an We are better than you mentality.

Ann Rice, an author that irritates me on most days, really echoes many of my thoughts when it comes to this type of judgmental Christianity. As you all know, she very publicly turned her back on organized religion, finally fed up with the intolerance once and for all:

Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

I think she’s telling the intolerant factions, “Quit it, you’re making our side look horrible.” And it’s true, Christianity as whole carries the reputation of its most repugnant. Those who scream loudest tend to get the most attention. And like many bloggers, I agree that her comments are a bookend to that famous quote by Ghandi:

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

A few weeks ago, a more conservative poster over at Obie’s blog brought up the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, and using the predictable anvil, tried to use it as a cudgel to beat us over the head that the unworthy goats will be cast into damnation. Nothing like adding some de rigueur brimstone intimidation to beat home the I’m right, you’re wrong mentality.

Since I’m feeling a little lazy and need to not only pack but can several quarts of pickles before the sun comes up tomorrow, I’ll just quote my response that I posted there:

Unfortunatetly the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is often used as a cudgel to silence dissenting voices. It is used as a fire and brimstone cautionary tale about the “proper way” to live, act lest you be damned for all times. In other words, it is too frequently used as a weapon to assert, I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m big, you’re small. And quite frankly I don’t like how it is used as an eschatology hammer to push an agenda or maintain the status quo.

Now don’t get me wrong. I really like the parable. It’s an edict to provide shelter and comfort to our fellow man where there is none. It is a reminder that if we ignore one, we ignore God, because he is reflected in each of our faces. And it does’t codify any one person into more godly than the next. The charge is to accept and comfort each other. Sounds a lot like love each other as I have loved you.

Ann brings up a great companion to the parable: Galatians 3:28. We are all one in Christ. And it is because of these premises that I left the LCMS in college. How can a church body refuse to raise up half of its population because of the man-made construct of patriarchal bureaucracy? And on the flipside, it is why I stand proudly as a supporter of the ELCA’s 2009 CWA decisions. We are all one in Christ regardless of age, gender, nationality, socioeconomic status or sexual identity or orientation.

Too often people forget that humanity does not decide who sheep and goats are, but those hammering the parable like a mallet tend to think they get to make that decision.

Yes, I like that parable, and I am going to go one step further and point out that shepherds find worth in both the sheep and the goats. A sheep provides wool that clothes him, it can provide meat that feeds him. But a goat has an equal worth as well. Its milk will nourish the shepherd and family and its meal will feed them as well. And while the parable was meant to point out that how we treat each other reflects how we treat God, I think we need to remember that a good shepherd would not kill or cast out his goats. He has other uses for them yet still appreciates their worth.

Declaring one’s self a better or more worthy Christian is what makes me hate organized religion. Creating a Frozen Chosen that claims moral superiority, or worse yet Biblical Authority (see previous rant) over others is nothing more than something humanity created to make one group feel better and superior to others. It’s a weapon to oppress, intimidate and wound. This is how we end up with the blonde-haired, blue eyed Christ, which in my opinion, represents centuries of creating Jesus to be something we want him to be(ie, like Us)  instead of what he truly was (the fear that he was like Them.)

Let’s go back to Galatians. There is neither slave nor free. There is neither Greek nor Jew. There is no male nor female. We are all one in Christ. We are taught early in our Sunday School years that humanity was made in God’s likeness. So if you take that concept to heart, then God is not only our Father, he is our Mother. God is straight and God is gay. God is male, and God is female. God is black, God is white, and God is every color in between. That sense of belonging is what brings me closer to God. Strip away the high church of Old School Lutheranism. Get rid of the patriarchal hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Toss out the snake handling and tongue speaking of the Deep South and we are all on the same path: searching for Christ, trying to see our selves in Him and reaching for his Grace that comes without the caveats and speed bumps that humanity has put it the way of those goals.



Sharing the Love

A couple of bloggers have pointed out that the ELCA leadership has had its share of bellyaching and complaining about the 2009 CWA statement’s on sexuality and the rostering of partnered GLBT clergy. I’m guilty of this. It’s really easy to vent one’s spleen when things don’t go your way and it is far to easy to say nothing when you agree.

So Justin over at DarthJedi and Brant over at Both a Saint and a Cynic want to change things. For those of us who have fully supported these bold decisions, we have decided to share the love.

And for $0.44 you can do the same thing. Let’s face it, there has been a good quantity of gnashing teeth and rending of garments over these decisions to last a lifetime. But how have we expressed our happiness in these measures? So Justin and Brant have proposed a letter writing/blogging campaign.

Let’s get back to that $0.44 stamp. It doesn’t take much to zip a letter to the ELCA leadership and give share our opinions as well. Because, seriously, how many Your Going to Hell letters or outright death threats (yes, there have been a few) do they need?  Isn’t it time to temper those nastigrams with a little gratitude?

Pr. Brant suggested three targets for a letter writing campaign: you synod bishop, ELCA Vice President Carlos Peña (FYI, Brant if your screen has an Omega, that’s where you find the symbols for the squiggly) as well as Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. But he didn’t just suggest sending them a letter. Go on the record and post your copies of your letter on your blog.

I’ll admit, I didn’t send my Synod Bishop a letter. But then again, I’m working with him and the Assistant to the Bishop on a pretty regular basis as we get our SAWC up and running. He knows where I stand on this.

So let me share my thanks to the ELCA Leadership. First is my letter to PB Hanson.

Bishop Mark Hanson
Office of the Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
8765 West Higgins Road
Chicago, Illinois  60631

Dear Presiding Bishop Hanson,
I am writing to thank you for your hard work and dedication during this difficult time in our Church’s history. There is no doubt that the 2009 Churchwide Assembly’s decisions regarding human sexuality and the rostering of same-sex partnered clergy has been challenging and far-reaching.

Though I am a member of a congregation that has been split in two by this decision, this step forward to guarantee that all are welcomed at God’s table has definitely affirmed that I am where I need to be.

Needless to say, it is also an exciting time as a significant number of us refuse to let this destroy the ELCA’s presence in [Edge of the Prairie Town.]  We have already started the process of reorganizing as a Synodically Authorized Worship Center as the first site in once again  becoming an independent ELCA congregation. I cannot thank Bishop Jim Arends and his assistant Pastor Libby Howe enough as they have been such an invaluable source of not only pastoral care but also assistance as we move forward and rebulid.

I will am also grateful to [Local Communion Partner Congregation] who has opened its doors to us, not only providing a safe harbor during a time of heated debate but also also worship space to maintain our ELCA identity and the possiblity of a mutually beneficial partnership that could forge bonds  between the two communities for years to come.

I fully support the ELCA’s inclusive policies and commend the Assembly’s bold actions. I firmly believe that we have made the right decision, and I have never been prouder to be raising my daughters to be strong members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

I apologize that this letter is long overdue and can never truly express my deep gratitude toward our Church and its unwavering stand to welcome all regardless of age, gender, nationality, socioeconomic class or sexual identity.

My prayers continue for you and the Churchwide leadership as we move foward in this exciting and promising chapter of the ELCA’s history.

In Christ,

Kelly

And my letter to Vice President Peña:

Carlos E. Peña
Vice President
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
8765 West Higgins Road
Chicago, Illinois  60631

Dear Mr. Peña,

I am writing to thank you for your hard work and dedication during this trying time in our Chuch’s history. There is no doubt the 2009 Churchwide Assembly’s decisions regarding human sexuality and the rostering of partnerned GLBT clergy has been challenging and far-reaching. Though I am a member of a congregation that has been split in two over regarding these policies, this step forward to guarantee that all are welcomed at God’s table has definitely affirmed that I am where I need to be.

I fully support the ELCA’s inclusive policies and commend the Assembly’s bold decisions. I firmly believe that we have made the right decision, and I have never been prouder to be raising my daughters to be strong members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

I apologize that htis letter is long overdue and can never express my deep gratitude toward the Church and its unwavering stand to welcome all regardless of age, gender, nationality, socioeconomic status or sexual identity.

Please know that you and the ELCA leadership remain in my prayers as we move foward in this exciting and promising chapter of the ELCA’s history.

In Christ,

Kelly