Sunday, August 16, 2009

What to do?

I think I mentioned a year or so ago that there was stuff going on in our church that pretty much centered around me, or to be specific, my being gay. So, I need to tell the story because I don't want it to get lost and truth be told, it's still affecting me today.

About 1.5 years ago, a position opened up on the board for Staff Support Chair. This pretty much entailed doing what I had done most of my life. Let me just interject here that we had just hired a new pastor. I think you will understand why this is significant down the road. Anyway, if I were to take on this new position in the church, you have to be an ordained elder. This would be the first problem. I brought my concerns to the moderator who assurred me that it wouldn't be an issue in the church and I really think he believed that, since our mission statement specifically states that our church doesn't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

So, guess what? It turns out that it was a big issue. Our church is a combined combination of a presbytarian and baptist congregation. And there are some little words(well actually they are regular print, but should be in bold) in the Presbytarian Book or Order that says Ordained Elders have to follow certain rules, like chastity in singleness and fidelity in marriage. You would think this wouldn't be a problem since I have never cheated on Cheryl, but you would be wrong. Because they define marriage as between a man and a woman. Oh yes, they do. But you aren't suprised are you?

Lots of folks at our church thought, well, we are progressive, so what's the big deal? The big deal was that our new pastor wasn't willing to put her own ordination on the line and ordain me. So began a loooong process of convening a task force to look at the issue, letters being written (and some of those were really, really hard to hear, I have to tell you)

All this time folks were checking in on me and making sure that I was OK with everything going on and I just said yes, because who really wants to hear no. Many dear friends have left the church over this issue and it pains me to my core. Many good friends have stayed.

So, why did I stay? I really don't know how to answer this question. Part of me feels as though I had to stay to show everyone that I was OK, that "I" wasn't going to drag a church through the grindstone and then desert them. But that is what I feel like doing. I still harbor a lot of anger towards the pastor, who could have stood up for me and for GLBT folks. I am still filled with grief over folks who have left and wish everyday that I had the guts to stand up and say, "You know, I am done with this, I am sorry for everything that has happened, but I just can't stay." I feel as though by my staying I am not standing up for what happend to me.

I am sure as you are reading this (if I have readers left) that you can hear the pain in my words. That you can tell that I am conflicted and that I really don't know what to do. I feel by staying that I am saying, "What you did to me was OK" and you know what? It wasn't.

It's so damn complicated. I think this issue is keeping me from moving forward in my relationship with God. Maybe I just am not the church going type? Maybe I need to find another church? I really don't know. I just know that I always attend church with a smile on my face and tears in my heart......


Judy said...

I am not certain that staying in the church has told them "it's okay if you treat me this way." I think, rather, that you are saying, "The hypocrites don't define my relationship with God, I do!" What would we think if Christ, in his mission to spread Christianity, just stopped knocking on doors after the first few people spat in His face? Something tells me that Christianity would not have progressed to where it is this day. Churches are always being redefined to stand up to the times. Remember how women and men often sat separately in churches? Blacks, single mothers, and bastards had no place in a church? Remember "The Scarlet Letter?" While I don't think you should wear a rainbow "L" to church, I think maybe God is handing you the torch, to bear it for others who aren't so strong. Many people attend church with a smile on their face, but tears in their hearts (I'll betcha Jesus was one of those people, from time to time). The Lord will lead you on what to do. Just remember - I have always considered you a pioneer in many ways - this is just one of them.

Shelli said...

I think in order to be comfortable in a house of worship, you have to be comfortable with the Clergy. It is wrong, wrong, wrong, for them to be like this in 2009!

I think a letter of resignation and you finding a new spiritual home is in order.

And I say this as a Synagogue Administrator, and a member of CBST, the world's largest gay and lesbian synagogue. NO ONE should be made to feel second class in a house of worship. NO ONE.