upper room daily devotions

Monday, December 11, 2006

why "take this away"? gay evangelicals and progressive christians

Progressive Christianity has a special opportunity to witness to our evangelical brothers and sisters in the wake of two evangelical resignations due to "gay activity." Being gay is no less prevelant in the evangelical world (and it seems more prevelant if you are watching the media closely) than it is anywhere else. The problem, of course, is that in evangelical circles being gay is a nasty little secret that needs to be hidden until, somehow, it goes away. The reality is that being gay isn't terrible, it isn't bad, and it needn't be hidden. The moment someone retreats into a closet - especially if they turn to a life of gay bashing - the darkness will envelop you and begin to kill you and all those close to you.

Progressive Christians would do well to witness with love that a person can both be gay and Christian. We can be loving parents, faithful partners, and committed disciples of Jesus. The sin isn't being gay; the sin is hiding the gift of God which is yourself. The church has functioned for too long as a place of violence, spiritual and physical, when it comes to people who are LGBT identified. Our theologies have fostered atmospheres that have been at best oppressive and at worst violent. We have tried to change, transform, and reform LGBT people. And yet the reformation that needs to occur has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Rather, we need to reform the sin of hate and intolerance perpetuated by our theologies and perpetrated by our churches. Progressive Christianity needs to step forward and to declare with a strong and pure voice refutations of the theologies which hurt and mame LGBT people, and to proclaim a gospel of inclusion and wholeness.

I am writing this because yet another evangelical pastor in Colorado has resigned, saying that he has struggled with homosexuality since he was five years old. He is married and has been unfaithful to his wife. And he has prayed to God to "take it away." I feel deeply for him and for his family. His life journey must have been fraught with difficulties as he has tried to deny one of the deepest parts of his own self and soul. Yet his first infidelity wasn't to his family, it was to himself and to his maker. A gay person typically shouldn't marry someone of the opposite sex; it is a set up for disaster. One might believe, given the media attention, that LGBT people cannot be faithful in their relationships. That simply isn't true. If given the chance to partner with someone out of love and desire, LGBT people can be as faithful as anyone else. It's time to stop trying to change gay identified people and to start changing the systems and institutions - the church being at the top of list - that wound, stagnate, oppress, and violate them. It's time to stop trying to "take this away" and instead teach people how to embrace their most authentic selves, build faithful and healthy relationships, and love God rather than fear God.

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