This is a continuation of a blog post I made yesterday.
Tammy came downstairs yesterday morning and out of nowhere she asked me what I thought about attending a church that openly welcomes gays and lesbians. We must've been doing a mind-meld because I'd just finished reading a blog post from a pastor whose point of view I admire very much. He was discussing this very thing -- openly accepting members of the GLBT community among their congregation. It would be such a departure from the disappointment I'm feeling concerning Hosanna's approach to this issue; an approach that looks at the issue through a funhouse mirror lens where a disproportionate amount of emphasis is placed on certain scripture/sins over others in a way that makes no sense to me.
Philip is one of Rachel's roommates in Rochester. He's gay and he's working diligently to reach people in the city who will soon be casting a yes or no vote on the Marriage Amendment. He grew up in a Catholic family in Texas and hoped that his move to Minnesota last year would be one where he would feel more accepted for who he is rather than what had been his experience in the life he'd left behind. The marriage amendment has done so much to unravel any of the warmth and acceptance he'd been enjoying here.
He was volunteering at ARTWalk in Rochester recently, approaching people, inquiring if they knew about the marriage amendment on the November ballot and to encourage them to help in his effort to defeat the proposed change to the state's constitution. At one point he was talking with a couple who were enthusiastic about becoming volunteers themselves and helping out. There was a father and his young son nearby listening in on the conversation. When he finished talking with the couple he turned to speak with the father. He asked him if he was familiar with the amendment to which the little boy responded "Me and my family are fighting you." Philip struggled to understand how someone so young even had an understanding for what was being discussed say nothing of the anger being expressed by him.
It wasn't until later that night while at home reflecting on what had happened in that moment that he broke down and cried about it, consumed by both sadness and anger, struggling to understand how anyone could encourage their children in such a way.
We're taught to hate.
Philip's story really touched me. When Rachel first told me about it I remember laying in bed later that night trying to imagine how he must have felt. Unless we're in Philip's shoes I don't think any of us can truly appreciate how that must feel. But what about when it's not some 9 year old boy throwing it back in your face that you're different. That you don't measure up. That you're not worthy. That you're the enemy. What about when it's your church that is trying to marginalize you? How terrible must that feel? I can't imagine.
Greg Boyd is the senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church in North St. Paul. I first heard of him when he came to speak at a men's breakfast at Hosanna a few years ago. His words touched me then and continue to today. I was cruising Facebook late last night when I came across a link to Greg's blog on a friend's wall where he was blogging about Homosexuality and the Church: Finding a "Third Way".
In his writing and in his sermon from last week he hits on all of my concerns that have been so troubling to me about the way Hosanna and other churches are dealing with this group of people we've done so well at making appear to be sinners on a whole other level than the rest of us. People who only want acceptance and the ability to worship without a constant concern and fear for what disruption their presence may cause. People who simply want the ability to someday marry the one they love. Is that really such a terrible thing? Don't we owe them that much?
I thank God for people like Greg who truly get it when talking about 'what would Jesus do?' And I thank God for people who are different than me. So should we all.
A short follow-up...