Hi, John. I’ve been reading your stuff for a while. I just returned home from an interview for a job as the Children’s Ministry Director of my United Methodist Church. I feel like I have been led to this position, which is new for me.
I am friends, and in a small group with, my pastor. His final question in our interview was about how he and I differ in our theology and politics. He truly believes that homosexuality is “not consistent with God’s teaching.” He is wonderful otherwise.
I asked him if he was telling me that I could not post on Facebook anymore in support of gay rights. He said that he didn’t know. I spoke to my husband, and we agreed that I cannot sacrifice who I am for a job, even though I really need to find work. (I am married to a public school music teacher, and we have three kids.) As a staff member of the church, I would represent the church in all that I do. I get that. (We arrived at the church through my husband, who, when I met him, was a “hate the sin, love the sinner” guy. I was anti-God and religion when we met.)
I guess I am looking for your advice on how to maneuver in a system that is currently having a civil war over homosexuality. My husband is a “stay and work to change it” kind of guy. I am just so confused.
Man, this is a tough one. As you know, I am 100% in favor of LGBT people being fully accepted into all aspects of the church. You know how hard I fight for that.
On the other hand, I’m 100% in favor of people being able to eat, pay their bills, and take care of their children.
My vote is for you to stay and take the job. As long as your pastor isn’t asking you to change your position—but only to refrain from publicly advocating for it—it seems to me that you can live with that. You’re friends with your pastor; it’s clear the regard and affection you hold for him. It sounds like you’ve got a great relationship with your church; they’ve after all honored you by choosing you to tend to their children.
You’re also in a study group with your pastor. That means that you and he will be often exchanging thoughts and ideas. Well, that’s how people’s hearts and minds are changed. It’s through relationship that we all broaden and deepen our understanding of who we are, of what we think and hold to be true. If anyone is going to change your pastor’s mind, it sounds likely to be you.
I don’t like the idea of anyone having to choose between their financial well-being and their religious convictions. That’s a terrible place to be. It’s wrong. But it’s also life. Right now the church is torn on the gay issue. And that’s lodged you in a place no one should have to be.
There are enough of us out here being contentious about the gay issue; it’s okay for you to take a more subtle approach to it. We need that, too; we can’t all be out here screaming and yelling. I say stay, remain prayerful, love your pastor as he loves you, serve your church well, speak softly the truth you know, help take care of your family, and trust that God put you where he did, how he did, for a reason.
When it comes to the gay issue, love, in the end, will win. Love is winning. And it’s doing so because every single day, in a million little ways, people like you are slowly but surely bringing into the true light of God good and well-meaning people like your pastor.