I’m Coming Out!

I am mad! I am phucking pissed off. I am hurt. I am a straight, white Christian male setting foot in the Louisville Gay Community with hopes of organizing support and attention to the unjust isolation of equal rights in America.  What do I have to be upset, angry, or hurt about? The Gay Community does not directly effect me in any way.

If the Gay Community is not guaranteed the right to marriage it does not make my marriage any less sacred.

If the Gay Community is not guarenteed the right to adopt or act as foster parents it does not inhibit me from adopting or fostering if I should so chose.

If the Gay Community is not allowed to answer the call to minister to this hurting, dying world it does not make my ordination any less valid.

I am angry that these are a few of the questions I and many others have asked ourselves.  The Gay Community is so small their rights do not matter.  I am angry that these questions are not only being asked, but they are being used to justify the systemic oppression of a people.

I am angry that Jesus, God, and moral values are being used to justify the injustice being perpetrated upon citizens of this nation.

Gone is the separation of Church and State when it suits us.  Gone are the manifold witness to a Gospel that proclaims a place for all as we all fall short of the glory of God.

Gone is the voice of champions of equality demanding that injustice be turned away from the swift application of justice.

I am angry that silence has paralyzed justice.  I am angry that religion, Jesus, and God are being used to silence the full inclusion of all citizen of the United States of America.  I am nation that guarantees that all of us are created equal, born with certain inalienable rights.

Those inaliable rights were once denied to folks due to the color of their skin.  Those rights were once denied to women because they were not men.  Those rights are being denied to a people because of who they love, who they share a life with.

I am angry because the silence is perpetrated in the shadows of religion.  A perverse application of Gods grace is used to deem a people unworthy of full inclusion into the fearfully and wonderfully made part of creation.

I am tired.  I am angry.  I am coming out!

In the recent film “Milk” Harvey speaks to a gathered crowd of the Gay Community.  He tells them in order to defeat Prop 6 they must “come out.”  They must share their store with their friends, families, employers, everyone!  Everyone must know their story.   They must humanize the struggle against injustice.

In my anger, in my exhaustion I speak to the straight allies out there.  You must come out.  You got to share your story with your family, friends, EVERYONE!

Our silence is killing people.  Our silence is making it OK to isolate, interrogate, and victimize the Gay Community.  Every time you say, “I am not sure about this.  I just need more time.”  You are denying justice to a human being and endangering their very life as you dangle the carrot of justice before their eyes.

We are responsible for the harsh treatment of the Gay Community.  We may not be the ones harassing the Gay Community directly.  We may not be the ones actively fighting to exclude equal rights to all.  We may be quietly sitting in support of equal rights for the Gay Community.  My silence hurts, our silence kills.  Our silence is hurting people.  We got to come out!

Sisters and brothers in your faith communities speak up, in your classrooms speak out, in your homes share.  The Gay Community is unjustly being denied basic human rights in our silence.  Let us join together in a loud voice to demand that just be restored in this wind of hope, this sweeping march towards change.  Let us be a part of history that we can be proud of.  Let us come out and speak up in support of our sisters and brothers of the Gay Community.

10 thoughts on “I’m Coming Out!

  1. When any institution reinforces injustice and then uses a specific way of reading an ancient text to justify and legitimate that injustice, it should make us all upset. As I have argued before, this is not about Jesus and the Bible, it is about a group of people who are grossed out by male on male sex and forget that this is about love and commitment just as much as it is for differently gendered couples.

    MLK Jr. believed that not just the minority is punished by racism, the majority punishes themselves. When anyone is being oppressed and beaten down, it is an assault on freedom itself and non of us can be free. Those who act in unjust ways and permit unjust systems are slaves to perpetuating their injustices in order to retain power. That’s his radical vision. And we just don’t get it do we?

  2. I can’t help but feel incicted here, both specifically by Ryan and inderectly by Drew.

    Just for perspective, I strongly support (although have done little tangible for the cause of, I admit) gay marriage in the political sphere. However, I am truly undecided about gay marriage and ordination within the church.

    For me, it is about Jesus and the Bible. I’m not grossed out by gay sex, any more or less than I’m grossed out by any other sort of sex. As a Christian in the Reformed tradition, I recognize the authority of scripture as the primary normative influence in matters of spirit, morality, and justice. The justice imperatives in scripture, plus American seperation of church and state, lead me to support gay rights in the public realm. Why I cannot easily translate that stance to a position regarding ordination is that the Bible, is it is predominately understood, establishes guidelines for leadership in the church which exclude gays.

    For me to make up my mind for gay ordination, I would need to be shown a way of reading scripture that supports inclusion of gays in leadership, just as women were once excluded through what many of us see now as an unacceptable way of reading scripture.

    Let me emphasize that my reasons for supporting gay ordination must be scriptural first and foremost. I appreciate and am influenced by the thought and actions of MLK Jr., but he is not my normative authority. He is also not the normative authority of the PC(USA).

    Ryan, I know how you desire to see the PC(USA) change its stance on this issue. I think if you really want to work towards that, you need to speak to the church in Reformed, Presbyterian language. Specifically, appeal to scripture, and not generalized ideas of justice and equality. As valuable as those may be, they are not authoritative in the PC(USA).

    Ryan, I have asked you several times for a scriptural defense of your position and have yet to recieve it. I strongly believe a scriptural defense of gay ordination is the way to change things in the PC(USA). Apealing to those generalized ideas of justice and equality only serve to make people feel guilty. For those of us who hold scripture as our authority on this issue, those ideas don’t provide any framework to make up our minds with.

    CAPS LOCK TIME. IF YOU WANT TO CONVINCE THE PC(USA) TO CHANGE ITS STANCE ON GAY MARRIAGE, MAKE THE CASE SCRIPTURALLY. I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT’S THE BEST CHANCE YOU HAVE.

    Not only that, but if the PC(USA) does change its stance on non-biblical grounds, that would be a weakening of the church, a step away from both its rich Reformed heritage as well as foundation in scripture.

    Ryan, the case still needs to be made. Saying, “can’t you people just see this is right?” doesn’t do anything. SHOW people it is right, and speak to them in the language they understand, appealing to an authority they trust.

  3. Matt,
    I did not intentionally seek to incite or offend you, specifically. I did intentionally seek to draw out conversation of all.

    In regards to the scriptural defense for ordination in the PC(USA) of members of the Gay Community I will offer you one in the next few days.

    I need to attend to a pressing matter at my congregation. I will offer that I reluctantly offer a scriptural defense because there is nothing new under the sun.

    In my defense I will point to the same three scriptures that the opposition utilizes in their argument. I will offer up an argument of social interpretation of these verses and why they are out of context.

    The opposition will label me a heretic and state that I cannot be reformed in my understanding and I do not believe in God and that I am not a faithful witness to the Gospel.

    You know me and the heart I carry to serve the Lord. I know you and the heart you carry in service to the Lord. I know you love God with all your heart. I pray that my love for God is also evident. I see that you are convicted and seeking to be the best child of God you can be. I pray that this may also be evident in my actions. I trust that the Spirit of God is at work in this conversation and in the larger conversation on Gay Rights. I humbly offer that I may in fact be wrong on my stance on ordination. I will however not back away on the demand for equal rights in this nation for all of her citizens. This means that Gay Marriage and all other freedoms, rights, privileges afforded by citizenry of the USA must be granted to everyone.

    In trepidation I ponder if any argument I offer will satisfy your request of a “scriptural” defense of Gay Marriage or Ordination? I wonder if any “Biblical” authority offered other than a Victorian era interpretation will feed the hunger of any “scriptural” basis.

    I see the kink in the demand for a scriptural bases to be the denial of an incarnational God in the manifest witness of what Jesus the Christ is actively doing in the world today. We did not always have the interpretation of scripture or cultural norms and sources that we do today. These items are informed and shaped by the life and times of those that live in Gods beauty bound by the fearfully and wonderfully made creation.

    Demanding a strict “scriptural” base denies the work of God in all of creation. If we uphold that God is indeed everywhere and anywhere then how can we deny that Jesus [God] works outside of our finite understanding. So in essence an argument solely stated upon “scriptural” bases lacks the fullness of God mystery and highlights the demand and/or need of humanity to limit God to our finitude.

    I am not stating that you are anything less than the rest of us. I want you to know I love you much and value your friendship in my life. You have always been a wonderful conversation partner and I pray that we may continue to push, pull, pray, and walk with each other.

    Like I said in the post, “I am tired and angry.” It hurts me to see humans deemed less than for living into the fullness of their self at the expense of others demanding conformity to a standard that does not acknowledge the fullness of Gods dynamic creation.

    I recognize that I must be flexible in rendering blanket statements in passionate affairs. I am seeking growth in this area. For sometime I have fought against, argued with people that would not listen to me and hold up the Bible as they said, ” You are wrong. You are blinded by sin.” To show anyone right from wrong is Gods right alone. I am not the wielder of truth. Rather, I am a bearer of truth. This truth is not mine, it is not for me. This truth is most often invisible to me. I can only show you my convictions. I can only offer what God is doing in my life and trust that the Spirit is present convicting both our hearts.

    Until the day I die I will fight for justice and full inclusion of the Gay Community in this nation. A denomination is only a part of the faith conversation. Justice arrives at the foot of the cross for all, in this action there is no argument that can stand against the grace covered in the blood of the Christ.

    I will post a scriptural argument in the coming days. I will also give you a book when we meet this June.

    Blessings and love,

    Ryan

  4. Let me say that I do think that God is working actively in the world today, but that I don’t think the way God acts now contradicts or replaces in anyway the witness of scripture. I believe that anything that appears at first to be a “new revelation” should be tested against scripture as a normative authority.

    Don’t be so sure that you won’t be able to speak from scripture to support your point in a way that people will accept. Let’s take the example of women’s ordination. The PC(USA) ordains women because it feels there is a scriptural imperative to do so. More conservative Christians disagree. I think those who disagree fall into two camps. The first camp dismisses the PC(USA) outright as disregarding the authority of scripture because it has a different interpretation that they do. The second camp looks at the PC(USA)’s scriptural reasoning and respectfully says that they see what the PC(USA)’s reasoning is, but they simply don’t agree with it. The second camp disagrees with the PC(USA), but recognizes and respects that the people in that institution are working from a scriptural basis. This is true diversity, where different members of the body can start at a common starting point and coexist in disagreement.

    Don’t be afraid of that first camp, they will always exist and you’ll probably find yourself sharing a table with them more than once between now and the end of your life. Also, don’t be afraid of the second, the people who will hear what you’ll say and receive it actively and intelligently and still disagree. There’s a bigger discussion to be had when we get to that point, but we’re not even there yet I think.

    I want to get to this point with gay ordination. I don’t know what side I’ll come down on, but I want to be able to know and respect the arguments on both sides. Right now I feel like there’s too much appeal to sources aside from scripture, as if you are telling me to, in a way, “forget the Bible and do what you know is right.”

    I don’t need a Victorian era interpretation, in fact, I don’t want one. The text of the Bible is a text like any other and we should treat it in the same scholarly manner as we do any other, but the content of the text is something different, it is living and breathing along with our active God.

    P.S., On a separate note, let me add this. I think that any time a group of people is prevented from participating in leadership, that group will become marginalized. Any Christian who wants to withhold ordination from homosexuals must recognize that by doing so, they are marginalizing that group. We can’t say, “we fully accept you” but close avenues to leadership. If we deny ordination to gays, we can’t pretend like other than that they can be just like anyone else in our congregations. The reason I’m saying this is that I want you to know I’m aware of this fact, and it makes saying ‘no’ to gay ordination just as difficult a proposition as saying ‘yes.’ I don’t want you to think I’m just pretending to be undecided on this, or that I’m just dragging my heels. I’m trying to think about this from both sides, and be contentious of the ramifications of either decision. There’s no ‘status quo’ that we can just stay comfortable and stick with.

  5. Denise Kendall says:

    I begin with a background into my faith journey: I was a Methodist baptized little kid, mostly raised Unitarian, teen confirmed Lutheran (thanks to my boyfriend who became my husband), he was drawn to non-denominational churches (liked that contemporary praise music and exegetical bible sermonizing), we were college fed both Presbyterian & non-denominational campus ministry, we raised our kids small, suburban, evangelical, non-denominational (lots of home bible studies, Sunday school, christian summer camps, missions trips to Mexican orphanages, etc.). Now the nest is empty and we’re recently visiting an urban Presbyterian church, partly because of the female pastoral associates/seminiarians AND a gay affirming attitude that I appreciate.

    So, I wonder if the words “ordained” and “ordination” may actually be a sticking point in the conversation about gays and lesbians. This word has come to the protestant tradition through the catholic tradition; and it has its root in the Latin word “ordinare” which means to set “rank” or “succession” of personnel, specifically in regard to priests. The word carries with it a distinct and unequivocal sense of hierarchy all the way up to the pope.

    In contrast, the biblical Greek language (that truer biblical basis which Matt rightly seeks) provides the idea of “establishing”, by a “show of hands”, certain ones to be “elders” or “attendants” (or in Latin “ministers”). In other words, setting in place people who do not outrank anyone (since each one in the Church is subject to Christ alone); but who actually serve the church, both by example, for reals, and as equals.

    As it now stands, for us to ask who should be “ordained” is literally a Latin way of asking, who should be granted spiritual authority over us? Men? Women? Straight? Gay? Um, I would say, no one. Better, I think, to ask who should serve us and our spiritual interests corporately; and then operate such that all worthy and called candidates may be considered in a democratic process to fill these positions, always emphasizing the servant nature of the roles.

    So, I wonder, could we ever come up with a replacement for the word “ordained” and thereby get past loaded notions of who should or shouldn’t be a clergyperson?

    Funny thing, my gay neighbor recently invited us to his “ordination” as a minister in his Metropolitan Community Church — it was one of the best services I’ve ever been too!! These people had no problem co-opting the term “ordained” into their faith practice! But what I really witnessed was that my neighbor very obviously “got” that he was assuming the role of a servant….

  6. For Matt. If you are looking for a thorough Scriptural treatment of this issue—read Jack Rogers’ “Jesus the Bible and Homosexuality” I would commend that work as perhaps definitive, definitely Reformed and assuredly Presbyterian. The work to speak to the PC(USA) on this issue in its own language has already been done.

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