4/4) The Opposite Side of a Pastor's Uncertainty (The pastor's response to my letter.)
Below is the response I received from the Pastor in regards to the "The Right Side of Truth Letter" I sent him along with my reply BACK to him.
True to form...my reply is rather long. So I am separating it into 4 different blogs.
In most cases the pastor's response is in black and my reply back is in red or a dark blue.
DISCLAIMER: I feel it's important for "my readers" (that was fun to say :-) to know that I became a Christian in 9th grade and I still consider myself to be a Christian. Furthermore, beginning in 9th grade I developed a passion for Scripture and that continues to this day. I feel Scripture holds a Sacred and important place in the hearts of those who adhere to it and provides knowledge that helps us understand the character of God as well as gives us guidance in how we are to love one another. I do, however, feel that when/where Scripture has been, and continues to be used, to shame and oppress specific groups of people, that it is perfectly appropriate to question the intent of both the Scripture that is used to justify that hate as well as the intentions of those using it to justify THEIR hate. I do not feel there is any heresy in asking the tough questions.
On to the letter continued from (3/4)...
“Is it possible I'm misreading the Bible about any particular subject (including sexuality)? Of course. We do our best. Trust God, and follow the Spirit.”
You may have just offered this statement as a sort of casual declaration and yet - you seem to be at least hinting at a small possibility of uncertainty that what you have been teaching in regards to homosexuality may be the result of you “misreading the Bible” while also casually suggesting that only time will tell. You are, at least, open to the possibility that you may not be correct on this issue.
May I offer you a little perspective on what is taking place on the opposite side of your uncertainty?
I have known from my very earliest memories that I was attracted to the same sex. Though I kept it secret, I always knew that it was part of my identity. It was part of my make-up. It was part of my humanness. Along with my gender, hair, skin, and eye color, it was part of my own DNA.
It was simply - me.
I was - certain of it.
No more and no less than your orientation is simply and certainly to - you. .
To be sure, though I knew that I was born gay, I also knew, due to cues and clues I was receiving from fellow members of my community, that acting out on my orientation seemed to not be an option which is why I kept it secret for almost my entire life. (I came out last year at the age of 39).
There were, of course, people who suspected I was probably gay or perhaps they felt that I acted too sensitive or feminine which would often lead to childish teasing such as being called a “fagget,” “fag,” or “sissy.” (there were other names but in keeping with a sense of decorum I won’t mention them here.)
There were, of course, a couple of physical altercations and bullying that took place as well.
Have no doubt - this was all extremely painful - especially considering that I literally had no one I felt I could confide in. Why? Because of those social cues and clues that I mentioned earlier. “Coming out” was simply not an option.
But as painful and depressing as being on the receiving end of a harsh word or a physical altercation was - nothing - and i do mean NOTHING compared to the
that resulted from the first time I heard my pastor, standing at the pulpit and I in the pew, preaching lovingly and compassionately that “homosexuality is sinful.”
The same pastor who would on any given Sunday preach about the belief that an All-KNOWING and LOVING Creator KNOWINGLY and LOVINGLY created ME in my mother’s womb, was now telling me, without realizing it, that who I always KNEW I was created to be was, in fact, an abomination. That, something of which I had no choice in the matter was so conveniently explained by an antiquated doctrine that indicated that THIS PART of who I was, was a result NOT of the LOVE of my Creator but rather of the death and destruction that came to be because Adam and Eve once upon a time ate some fruit.
Of course, as I grew up in the church I would continue to hear these teachings and it would continue to compound the hurt and shame as I grew old enough to fully understand the actual weight of that shame and would play an unhealthy part in ALL of my relationships with family, friends, acquaintances, and even my relationship with God, my Creator.
***THAT is what takes place on the opposite side of your...uncertainty.***
Better put -
THAT is what happens as a RESULT of your lack of public RECOGNITION of your uncertainty - especially when hiding behind your pulpit.
You see, if this were just a matter of whether or not you felt I was sinning or, perhaps, going to hell because I choose to act on my sexual orientation by falling in love and growing in communion and companionship (and yes - everything that goes with it) with another man - then I would just ignore these statements and move on with my life.
But it, unfortunately, is not that simple.
Your words matter. They matter NOT just to me and the little boy, or struggling teenage girl, or isolated adult sitting in the pews within the walls of your own church - but also to anyone who is in earshot of your teachings.
Having watched your entire 4-part series you seem to be under the assumption that if you lovingly and compassionately explain that someone who follows through on their homosexuality - and orientation of which they had no choosing - that the love and compassion you show should make this “struggle” easier to confront and deal with.
But this could not be further from the truth.
Having someone call me a “sissy” or “faggot,” though painful it may have been, was nevertheless easy to just attribute to that person’s hatred and sense of their own lack of self-esteem.
But to shove your uncertainty - as little as it may be - aside and to unknowingly tell a young, impressionable child or teenager in your congregation that something of which they had no choice in the matter was a result of death and destruction and not the result of an all-knowing and loving Creator…?
Well - to me THAT’S unforgivable.
To me….THAT is immoral.
After reading through my letters it may come as a surprise to you that I became a Christian in 9th grade and I consider myself to still be a Christian. Furthermore, the passion I had for Scripture that developed from my childhood remains today. I strongly believe that the Bible teaches us the character of God as well as how to love one another and does so in such beautiful and remarkable ways. However, when the same Bible that teaches love is used to justify the teachings of hate and shame, then I feel it is perfectly appropriate to ask the tough questions.
In the end, when I weigh everything pertaining to this topic, due to the same uncertainty you alluded to, coupled with what with EVERYTHING that I am CERTAIN of, I find it’s best, and more fruitful, to use Scripture to promote, defend, and justify the acts of love toward others as opposed to shaming individual groups who may be dealing with a dealt-hand not of their choosing. For you to so callously proclaim that celibacy - and a life without intimacy and companionship - are the result of that dealt- hand is heart-wrenching.
“Homosexuality is a sin.”
To the little boy, teenage girl, or struggling adult sitting in your pew - these words you speak, even when spoken through a filter of love and compassion, instill in them a sense of hurt and shame that will remain with them for the remainder of their lives.
Meanwhile - you remain uncertain of the very words you utter.
OK. I must go. I hope it was helpful. I'm not able to give time to debate (if that is what you were hoping for), as I have people I need to care for in our congregation.
Thanks for your email.
Thank you again for your time,