so i've had some things on my heart these past couple weeks. i don't think i've had anything on my heart so distinct since i left california (in the faith-related sense). i'll be putting some things on my sleeve here.
while in seminary, i was confronted, personally, with the issue of homosexuality. until then, i had never needed to 'make a choice' regarding the issue. i became associated with our homosexuals-in-ministry advocacy group through a couple friends, and began to explore the issue for myself. i quickly grew to know a few folks who were openly gay, and saw them as particularly amazing pastoral people -- saw them as the human beings they are, and for the wonderful ministers that they are. i have a number of close friends who are openly gay and in ministry, pastoral or otherwise.
the first time this confronted me to my face was my final year of seminary. i had begun helping out with a church in northern NJ who had a great youth ministry. about 3 weeks in, the youth pastor inquired about this group at princeton (that he 'heard' i was a part of). the short story was that i was asked to leave the church due to my association with supporting gays in ministry. since my time at princeton, i have always been in support of gays in ministry.
a lot of you know that many denominations are still 'figuring things out' with regard to the issue of homosexuality. the presbyterian church (USA) is currently working through this as well. while i don't know all the intricacies of the issue (i try to stay on the outside of the political aspects of most things), the short version is that it has been left to individual presbyteries to weigh in on upholding or ratifying the current ordination standards -- which state (generally) that there must be fidelity in marriage between a man and woman, or chastity in singleness.
recently, the church i work for, voted unanimously to affirm the standards. while this affirmation may seem straight-forward, it is the support of an EXCLUsive statement - and there are a lot of implications that come along with us. the primary, in practical terms, is that this can be perceived as a 'stand against' homosexuals in ordained ministry, and ministry in general. while typically people make it into an issue of 'sin' of homosexual acts, it comes down to excluding people - period. - from feeling welcome in the church. the proof of this case, is the simple fact that the church has NEVER made any other moral issue into such a lynchpin -- i.e. HETEROsexual activity -- like PASTORS who CHEAT on their wives, thus DESTROYING their marriage -- do we take away their ordination? no. this is my issue. this is LOTS of peoples' issue -- hypocracy. we'll include a philandering male pastor in the Body, but not a loving, caring, pastoral christ-follower who identifies themselves as gay?
this mini-manifesto is not meant to agitate or initiate any debate. -- it simply serves as a bit of a mini-testimony with regard to my heart lately, along with questions that this struggle has brought up in my relationship to the church and how i live my faith. so take it as you will.