After this post, I am moving on for now. I need to focus on the beauty of my son, the lessons I have learned from him, and my own deconstruction from ministry into secular life.
I wrote something on the UMC Clergy page. I suspect it will be removed soon as I am not UMC clergy. But I had to respond one more time. My last response to them was on my blog a few days ago. Then I saw fellow Patheos writer and retired UMC Clergy post something very poignant in her blog. “It’s Time. Blow Up the UMC. My Breaking Point”, is written from a position of faith, but she has some insights that they would do well to read.
She posted her thoughts in the UMC Clergy Facebook page and was met with some support, but also some vitriol. Before I move on, I said what is about to follow.
This is not over. I will still be watching how they address the issue of equality. I could honestly care less what they think. But what they say from pulpits harm children. What their positions are against LGBTQIA people can have an effect in their hospitals and liberal arts colleges. That matters. That has consequences that are sometimes deadly.
This is what I wrote:
I am not supposed to have access here. I am sure that the admin will do the right thing and remove me. I prefer to this here as opposed to my blog. I do need you to understand that this is not over. Not by a long shot.
I am tempted to use scripture. But people who have their minds made up do not listen well. Despite that fact that your community is part of a much larger umbrella of Christianity (39,700 denomination per a 2007 Oxford study) you seem to have little regard for discussion with peers outside your bubble. Many of you have also insulated yourselves from the community of the world. 7 Billion of us.
Some of you were alarmed to find that your words were public and visible to anyone with an internet connection. That is telling. Imagine what it feels like to be gay and exposed for who you are, not merely what you say. To have people lump shame on you for things that are not shameful.
Some were hurt or angry that your words were taken, in your mind, out of context…or even twisted. Imagine how your god feels when you do the very same thing to scripture to fit your narrative. One that lacks the compassion and love that included ultimate sacrifice.
Some here tell the progressive voices to leave or wait on votes and councils and committees and accuse them of disobedient hearts to their vows. However, many of your comments on your views show that your hearts are opposed to people like my son. A vote in favor of the progressive thought would not change your heart and even if you were to obey the letter of the law, your heart would still be unaccepting of my son and his peers.
As I am sure you are aware. Jesus and Paul and others had a lot to say to the Pharisees and others who were keepers of the law without love. You may want to read them again and give them serious consideration.
Words are murderous in this case. The largest cause of homelessness from minors is parents who kick their children out for being gay. They do so because of teachings like some of you hold to. Murder of transgender individuals in the US is on the rise and it goes back to bad teachings. The same is true of assault rates, suicide and other horrible things. Words from the authority of a pulpit carry weight and sometimes they lead to the death of children.
Christy was right. Life is different outside the bubble. It is more civil. Love and justice is not subject to committee, it is lived. Change happens more swiftly. It is more humble.
I was not a mere pastor of a small church. I was also the midwest director of my denomination. Your equivalent of a bishop. I helped shape our by laws. I sat in committees and thought I was part of something doing good and if I am being honest, I gained a better understanding of the “least of these” when I was a taxi driver in the night than I ever did as a minister. I also made a more significant difference.
Someday, your views on GLBTQIA issues will change as an entire body towards love and acceptance and affirmation. You will congratulate yourselves for the decision as you have in the past. It will not be soon and it will not acknowledge the blood of innocents that is on your hands.
Children in many of your congregations and schools have and are being harmed with your words and your teachings. Teachings that are incorrect. I know you have your interpretation of the Bible. But it is currently out of balance with reason and tradition. Your stool is broken. It may one day be mended, but like Jem’s broken arm in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, I doubt it will heal completely. For those who do not know, Jem’s arm was Harper Lee’s analogy to life after the Civil War. The fracture that did not heal well.
Reason includes science. The peer reviewed science regarding orientation, gender identity and psychological harm and trauma by cruel words is in contrast to your positions. Tradition includes the words of your founder, John Wesley, when he said do no harm. The same people who take the bible literally and hold their interpretation too tightly hold loosely this concept of do no harm. I know I am stretching on the last one, but I also hope that tradition and reason also give you the insight of your own history when you were on the wrong side of history and had to face your error and change your teachings.
I would love to tell you that the time to change your position is now. This is 2017. The alarm to wake up has already gone off and you kept hitting the snooze button of committee. You overslept and it had deadly consequences. The church slept while the world changed. We did it without you. We will continue to do it without you. You are welcome to join us, but you stopped leading society and affecting change a long time ago. Time to catch up.
As long as you operate hospitals, liberal arts colleges and missions in the public square that have policies affected by your reprehensible positions, you not only answer to your committees, bishops and congregations. You answer to the public. This includes me. Little ex Christian me and my trans son.
In closing. I say this to the men who have spoken so boldly in this space. My transgender son, at 16, is more man than you will ever hope to be. He has strength of character, compassion, respect for others, kindness, humor, humility and so much more. I learn from him every day. You could too is your hearts were not so hardened and your manhood so very fragile and seeped in false strength.
This will likely be deleted. I will save a copy on my blog for archival purposes for reference.
I did mention this is not over, right?