May 09, 2008

Today Show Interview With Bishop Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson, the openly gay bishop ordained in the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire who has been at the center of the storm threatening to split the Episcopal Church, has written a new book "In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center By God."

Bishop Robinson was a guest on The Today Show and was subjected to, in my opinion, a fairly hostile interview by host Matt Lauer. I thought he held up well, showing humility and the heart of Christ. I'm linking below to a writeup about the Bishop which contains the video of the interview. Let me know what you think of it.

Interview with Bishop Eugene Robinson.

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.

May 07, 2008

New Edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities Is Now Available

From Ron Hudson, founder of the ICP:

Dear Friends of the International Carnival of Pozitivities (ICP):

It is a tremendous pleasure to announce the publication of edition 2.11 of the ICP at DropDeadHappy. Mark has done a beautiful job of tying together a number of new blog posts from the world of HIV/AIDS. I encourage you to bookmark this edition and visit it over time so that you can enjoy each of the contributions. Please leave feedback for the contributors and especially for the host for these selfless efforts to help us continue presenting the ICP.

May 06, 2008

"Strike a Match"

That's the message that Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge shares in this essay for Whosoever, the online GLBT Christian magazine she edits. Rather than be bullied into silence, she encourages GLBT Christians to stand up and allow others to see the light of God shine through gay as well as straight people.

It's a message that arrives too many times in my email box.

"Hi, I'm gay (or lesbian, or bisexual or transgender) and I've been told I’m going to hell. Help me! I’m scared!"

My heart breaks every time I receive that message, because it reminds me of just how powerful the message is that GLBT people receive about God and how God surely feels about them. It’s a message many in our community hear relentlessly. A Bible verse or two is quoted as proof. The person under attack may not know how to defend themselves; they simply hear the words of condemnation and fear overtakes them. Many, unfortunately, succumb to the darkness. They accept the condemnation and either bury their sexuality, try to “change” it, or forsake their relationship with God all together. Some write to me or other GLBT Christian organizations seeking support.

As someone who has put this issue to rest within my own mind ("No, I'm not going to hell because I'm a lesbian. Thanks for your opinion, though."), it's difficult to back up and give that helping hand to those still behind me on the path toward reconciling sexuality and spirituality. However, that is what Christ demands from us when he tells us to let our light shine in the world. Instead of cursing the darkness that keeps GLBT people from realizing the light of God within them, we are to strike a match and be beacons of light along the path for anyone who has not made it as far down the road as we have. We are to be like bodhisattvas in the Buddhist tradition, refusing to enter Nirvana until all have found the way there.

Click here to read the rest of the essay at Whosoever.

May 05, 2008

Where Does GLBT Acceptance Stand in Three Key Protestant Denominations?

That's the question review by this interesing article from The Christian Century (hat tip to Whosoever, which reviews the status of GLBT acceptance into the Evangelical Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

"The Church's Unfinished Sexual Revolution" was the title of an article in the spring 2006 issue of Yale Divinity School's Reflections magazine. In it longtime Christian ethicist James B. Nelson described some progress in church thinking about sexual ethics, but contended that the church's agenda on sexuality remains "confusing, unsettled, unfinished."

When asked if he sees himself in a "sexual revolution," Phil Soucy, publicist for the gay-friendly Lutherans Concerned/ North America, demurred: "It's difficult after all these years to think of it as a revolution; it is more like an evolution."

Indeed, three of the largest mainline Protestant denominations continue to move to and fro on issues of sexuality, with leaders often expressing concern about whether the churches will survive the turmoil.

Click here to read the entire article, "Gay acceptance has advances and setbacks in three denominations."