This is a post on a controversial topic, which is always sort of dangerous. However, I'm not shouting my opinion from a platform, but rather "thinking out loud" and inviting others to reflect with me and offer their insight. I invite comments and responses, but ask that you please not post knee-jerk, inflammatory reactions. We're intelligent adults. Let's act like it. Oh yeah, and please read the whole post before commenting. This is a journey...
I consider myself to be in the "moderate-but-leaning conservative" camp both socially and theologically. There are a few things I "lean left" on, such as capital punishment (I'm an enigma; I'm against the death penalty AND against abortion), but on most issues I'm either square in the middle or leaning a little to the right. I have spent a lot of time thinking, praying, reading, and reflecting on the issue of homosexuality. My denomination is embroiled in an increasingly intense debate on the role of practicing homosexuals in the church. Anyway, up until about a week ago, my response to the question, "where do you stand on that issue" would have been fairly confident. I believed (and still do feel) that based on my interpretation, the practice of homosexuality contradicts the witness of the scripture and Christian tradition. As a result, I would have said that that ordaining practicing homosexuals was not compatible with scripture/tradition, etc, etc. Keep in mind that I also believe that even heterosexual sex outside of marriage is incompatible with scripture, and that clergy are to be "celibate in singleness and faithful in marriage".
Anyway, my position on homosexuality has been challenged in the past week and it's left me in a tailspin of sorts. I feel like my world has been knocked on its axis. Last Tuesday, we had six new interns begin the summer CPE program. They'll be here full-time through July and August. There are four women, two men, one African-American, one Filipino-American, two Lutherans, one Methodist, one Presbyterian, one Episcopalian, and a Pentecostal. In addition to the racial and religious diversity, one of the interns is gay. This was confirmed this morning in a seminar, but I had suspected it last week, based on behavioral patterns and his response to a relationship question ("significant other" instead of specifying girlfriend/wife). So, now that my suspicions have been confirmed, I am really wrestling with myself and with views that I've held for a long time.
The crux of the matter is this; my position up until this point has been based on a fairly congitive discernment process and an utter lack of experience with homosexuals beyond a nodding acquaintance. All of a sudden, I encounter this engaging, gifted, and faithful young man who wants to serve Christ and His church and I find myself re-examining my position. I haven't seen Luther (hokey name, I know, but he's Lutheran and I don't want to use his real name) active in ministry yet, so I don't know anything about his gifts and graces, although I should know within a week or two. I'm assuming that Luther will demonstrate gifts for ministry and am wondering, "so what now?" All of a sudden this "issue" is reduced to one person who I genuinely like and admire, and I find myself doing of lot of thinking and, well...agonizing about God's grace, our sin, who God calls to ministry, standards of faithful living, sexuality, etc. One moment I'm worried about a "slippery slope" in terms of moral/ethical standards among the ordained and the next moment I'm reminded that the early Christians established that the character of the one administering the sacraments does not affect the validity of the sacraments. There's a Latin or Greek term for it...I forget.
Those are my thoughts...and where I am right now. I have no doubt that there is more to come. My biggest concern is that as I make this journey, no matter if my "position" changes or not, that I will be faithful to God's Spirit as he speaks to my heart, through others, and most importantly, through His Word.