Saturday, October 27, 2012

Losing My Religion, part 2

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 of 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...


Anonymous said...

AWESOME!...Greg is an amazing teacher...There is So much I have gained (and lost) by his sermons and books. One thing Greg will Always do is point the believer to Jesus!! Less of us and more of Him.....his church is big too but the variety of people coming is what I love. Every sermon definately gives the believer something to chew on and pray about...:) Another pastor you may like is Bruxy Carvy...He is from Canada but guest speaks at Woodland Hills. Oh...and they are both Very funny..Many times you will crack up laughing. God Bless you guys in your journey with Our Lord...:)

Anonymous said...

Woodland Hills also has a program set up for artists..:)

Anonymous said...

If Woodland Hills is too far to drive every Sunday( which I felt) you can listen to any sermon by podcast ...or you can check out the church I started going to...Evergreen. Its in Lakeville and not too long ago a woman spoke who was lesbian for wonderful insight in her testimony and how we are ALL broken and need Jesus! That's what its all about no matter who a person is....there is a heart that needs Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Here is a quote from Bruxy "Acceptance is not agreement and love is not approval...Learn this (Really get it) and so many relational choices become clearer." So true...:)

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to Hosanna in a long time but the few times I was, I felt he gave good sermons. I remember one sermon convicting me to tears. One time, I remember him announcing before the service that he was told that his sermons were too long so he said "I understand people have commitments and need to get out of here on time. So I will shorten my sermons" I thought 'What?!...if people can't stay a bit longer, then there is something wrong with them... NOT YOU!'
It has always been an "important" issue for decades to involve politics in the pulpit....But churches like Greg's are waking up to the fact that Jesus never came for political reasons. People in that time were hoping He was going to take over Ceasar and change the world as they saw it. He never did because He came to build a different Kingdom---Not one with power "over" but power under.
All governments will march to the world way...both left and right are an illusion if a believer feels they are going to change the world through government.
Pastor Bill needs prayer to free himself of politics from the pulpit....But its Very hard when it has been the "American" way for so long.

Anonymous said...

We are NOT to judge the unbeliever. God tells us He will be the judge of all unbelievers. We are instructed to love and witness Jesus and pray for the unbeliever....Not our job to judge them.
As Believers, we are to encourage each other, keep each other accountable, pray for each other, confront when we have been wronged, forgive and work through by God's s grace..and grow in His love and grace.
Grace is not a pass to do wrong to another believer and then say when confronted"You can't judge are being self righteous...get that log out of your own eye..I'm under Gods grace".
If believers all
acted that way, the church would be one big mess! His grace is there for us to grow in Christ, learn His ways by surrending our wills to His.
God gives us instruction for our relationships with the unbeliever AND instruction for our relationships with other believers we fellowship with. Do you agree?

Anonymous said...

I hope you did not take from Greg's message that he is for gay marriage. His point was for us to look at our own prejudices...whether our prejudice is toward a gay person or a greedy person or whoever we may have disdain (we justify) in our heart. All judgements we make on any unbeliever takes away from their worth in which Christ died for....we are not to justify any of them.