Tuesday, May 09, 2006

a dialogue of interest

A friend of mine recently directed me to a transcript of a talk that Tony and Peggy Campolo gave at North Point Chapel about ten years ago. Though an old speech/conversation, I found it remarkably poignant. Entitled "Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?" this transcript sees both Tony and Peggy make different cases on the issue of same-gendered relationships but offer a similar - and compelling - articulation of how the church is called to serve our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

As our church faces such similar questions and issuez - particularly at General Assembly this June - I think it is most critical that no matter what we believe on particular issues we do not let people become just an "issue." I become deeply troubled when I hear the various camps dehumanize those with whom they disagree. I'm currently working on a sermon for this Sunday based on a text that say, among other things, that if we say we love God but do not love our brothers and sisters, we are liars. Our call is to minister in love to all and when we do not - when we let our differences, however deeply seeded, divide us and keep us from our ministry of love - we are not loving God.

This transcript offers a wonderful call to ministry of love that can affect those with varying opinions about homosexuality. I invite you to read it and let it reside with you for awhile, to wonder if any of Tony or Peggy's statements ring especially true for you, if any cut you to the quick. Think about what ways our church - both Covenant and the greater church - can be a place of love where those who have felt that the church (or church people) despised them - and this goes beyond gays and lesbians. Think about these things - and then act, in small moments, in larger ways, act. The church will only become a truly loving community - Christ's community - when its people move past fears, prejudices, or whatever holds us back and strive to love.


LutheranChik said...

I hate to be the voice of pessimism, but speaking as one on the minority end of the equation, I run into too many people who refuse to make me anything but an issue. I remember one discussion online where my Real Christianity [tm] was being questioned because of my sexual orientation, when I more or less pleaded with the person in question: E-mail me. Read my blog. Read my other comments on other discussion forums. Get to know me. And of course that person refused to do that "because it wouldn't make any difference."

And we're not talking about people arguing over something like where to orient the altar, or whole-wheat versus white wafers. We are talking about telling people that an essential part of their being, who they are as individuals, is diseased and something other than God's plan, and that their committed, monogamous, mutually loving/serving relationships are also by definition a sin, something bad. Frankly, I don't care if the person telling me this is screaming it through a bullhorn with a "GOD HATES FAGS" placard in hand or is weeping, with a hand on my shoulder, supposedly in anguish (oh, please) and compassion over the struggles of a fellow sinner. It's all the same to me. They're both rejecting me.

How can you dialogue in good faith with someone who finds you inherently loathesome and an affront to God?

Evidently I'm not at a place in my own spiritual formation where I can deal with this in an enlightened way.

Amy said...

I don't know if you can have any sort of healthy dialogue with those who find you loathsome or even those whose rejection of you comes in the form of "solidarity in sin." I won't say it's impossible - thanks to that whole "nothing's impossible with God" bit we talk about. But I don't know if I could - I rather think I couldn't given my experiences with people who thought I was going to hell because I'm a female minister.

And yet I do have hope for dialogue, for good, genuine, loving relationships between people who see homosexuality as wrong and those who are gay. I have hope because I've seen it. I've seen loving people who see being gay as a sin not let that stop them from truly caring about people who are gay and I've seen loving people who are gay not let a person's opinion on their sexuality stop them from truly caring. Now, are these relationships as close as they possibly could be? No, probably not. That major difference is always going to be a barrier. But then again, very few of us have many barrier free relationships.

I don't know. This area may be something that I can't really participate in because I'm not gay. I can have an opinion, but perhaps in the end, my opinion doesn't "matter" because it's not my experience. I recognize that might be true. But based on my experience and based on my belief in the power of the Spirit to do things unimaginable, I do have hope.

LutheranChik said...

Amy, I've had someone tell me that, even in my currently celibate state, he would have a problem hearing me read the day's lessons in church or offer him the chalice during the Eucharist. He told me I wasn't "fit" to serve God in this way. I have had a married, straight Christian woman tell me, with absolutely no sense of irony, that I should just get some platonic roommates for company, the way she did before she got married. This "good Christian" also told me that I have a dog to keep me company, so why do I want a partner?

So you'll have to excuse me if I have no interest in listening to someone tell me that my sexual orientation and/or any relationship based on same is a sin but they "love" me "anyway." Their love sounds and feels and looks pretty much like hate lite, from where I stand.

I blogged about this, BTW, tonight, in the wake of Terry Gross' "Fresh Air" program today.