May 08, 2008

What'a a Straight Guy Doing in Affirming Ministry?

That's a question I get asked on occasion, as does Pastor Miach Royal from The Church of the Painted Sky in Lumberton, North Carolina. He answered that question in an interesting essay for The Epistle online magazine.

People wither and want nothing to do with God the more they hear and experience rejection, judgment, and condemnation. This withering is what I witnessed happening to gay and lesbian people in the ministry I was ordained in, which shunned gays and lesbians. Even from the most well-meaning ex-gay advocates the rejection of the one who is different at the heart of that form of Christianity gets communicated loud and clear to those in the gay community. I have seen firsthand how that rejection and the religious abuse that comes with it lead many to wither up spiritually and decide if all God is about is abuse and judgment, I have enough of that already. Why seek him out and get more?

But it is amazing -- when you begin to tell people that they are fearfully and wonderfully made as Ps. 139 tells us, and that who they are in all of their uniqueness is a gift of God, something wonderful happens. When people really begin to sense that they are loved by God unconditionally, that there is nothing they have done or can do for God to quit loving them, and that nothing about them is a mistake, it is amazing to see how people open up.

Just like flowers open up to the sun, when I share with people how much God loves them I can see their whole demeanor change and them begin to open up to God. My experience is that the greatest way to drive people away from God is to tell them that God has no room for the likes of them and then to try force people to fit your mold of how they ought to be. But the greatest way to point people toward God is to let them know that they are no mistake but precious in the eyes of God.

And isn't seeing that change, that spiritual move from withering death to blooming life, what ministry is to meant be about? Why would my sexuality -- the mere fact of me being straight --keep me from wanting to be a part of that?

That's a pretty good answer, isn't it? That's only part of Pastor Royal's essay.

Click here to read the rest of it.

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