I was in seminary, focused on the skull cracking material of our Constructive Theology class, when I felt something bounce lightly off my head and land on my open book. It was a peanut. I already knew who did it because this was a regular occurrence. I turned to see a woman giggling quietly and it made the whole room a little lighter. Later, she laughed more loudly while she told everyone, “I am throwing peanuts at this BEAUTIFUL man….”
She’s cheerful, kind, and calls me “dear” with her lovely Colombian accent. Everyone loves her and feels better around her. She radiates grace.
One time in another class, a fellow student had a medical emergency, and she was the first to respond. She put her arms around the woman and said softly, “Don’t worry. I will take care of you.” And she helped our friend find the medicine she needed.
She is a minister to her core and I am proud she is my colleague. Yet she is not qualified to be ordained in most denominations. Being a woman disqualifies her in many, but even in my more progressive United Methodist denomination she is not accepted because she is a lesbian. She is, however, a minister for another organization which is to their benefit.
There really aren’t that many kind, uplifting ministers out there, and any church that wouldn’t want her is making a mistake from which they will not recover. I’m serious about that—they will not recover.
My denomination teeters on the edge of a devastating split over how we regard members of the GLBT. There’s a great deal of nuanced discussion as well as bellicose arguing. Frankly, I’ve become sick of it. I’m also ashamed that I haven’t spoken up enough on behalf of my GLBT friends.
I moved from a conservative evangelical community to the more progressive United Methodists because they were kind to me and because they were open and more welcoming than other Christians I had known. They taught me to think more clearly and to care about social justice issues. And yet they have not been able to move forward to resolve this discussion.
They are not going to find an honorable compromise because this is an issue of right and wrong. And the majority of the UMC is wrong. The majority thinks any kind of sex other than hetero is sinful. They won’t allow them ordination or provide wedding ceremonies for them.
I want to be respectful, so I’ll say it softly with no exclamation points at the end of the sentence:
If you discriminate, judge against, exclude, or hurt people because they are in the GLBT community, I respectfully say that you are wrong. And you should change. Not only should you change your thinking but you need to focus on healing those who are in pain.
Last week, I began to volunteer some time to The Center in Orlando. It exists to promote the well being of GLBT community of Central Florida. There’s a great deal of healing that needs to occur and I intend to be a part of that.
What are you going to do?