…but the greatest of these is love.

Our church is having a series of discussions called “Reconciling in Christ”. Basically the higher ups said “we’re going to leave it up to each congregation whether to accept gay people in long term committed relationships into the church, whether to celebrate their marriages/commitment ceremonies, and whether to allow them to be called to the pulpit”. Our church seems to be ok with the first and maybe the second, the the third part is what this is all about – we’re having bible study to discuss the meaning of various bible passages and the larger context of them which is so conveniently ignored by certain ignoramuses holding up signs on street corners or speaking at political gatherings.

Note that we specifically spell out “long term committed relationships” – we don’t want bath house cruisers or airport washroom lurkers or singles bar one night stand artists of either gender or orientation. That doesn’t mean that you have to be in a relationship right now, it means that when you do get into a relationship, you’re doing so with the hope or intention that if you’re compatible, it will last more than one night.

A lot of this discussion seems to bog down on people who can’t actually put their finger on what is wrong with a gay person finding love, but they feel in their guts that there is something wrong with it. Somebody in today’s session said “I welcome any gay person or gay couple into our church, but I don’t want them standing in the pulpit”. I wanted to ask them what they expected that person to do if they were in the pulpit? Make constant references to how great gay sex is? Hit on their sons and daughters? Show up in an outrageous Pride Day costume? Because I don’t see heterosexual people in the pulpit doing any of those things, and I don’t think anybody would tolerate it if they did. (What was it Dan Savage said? That Halloween has become like the hetero equivalent of Pride Day? Yeah, we wouldn’t tolerate our hetero pastors showing up dressed as the naughty school girl or the slutty nurse either.) On the other hand, maybe they’ll just be up there and be speaking of how great it is to have a partner they love? Would that be awful?

But the problem is that I don’t the great and overwhelming love of Christ that other members of the Church profess. To me, he was a possibly-divine person who preached an abiding message of peace and love. What I have a great and overwhelming love of is love. I wish everybody could spend every waking hour thinking how fortunate they are to love their partner the way I love mine, and the way I believe she loves me. I wish they could know that happiness that says that even when we’re apart, even when we’re doing our own things, even when we fall short of what we should be doing, even when we fight, we know that person is there and loves us back as much as we love them. And that is the greatest gift, whether it came from God or from evolution. And I’m not going to say “your love is wrong” because of the way your genitalia is arranged. If you love somebody, and they love you back, then you are well and truly blessed.

6 thoughts on “…but the greatest of these is love.”

  1. The only quibble I might have is that we’re not deciding to “accept” them, but to hold their relationships in the same light as we hold heterosexual marriages. Gay people have always been free to join ELCA churches. Sadly, I won’t say they were always welcome.

  2. I like that phrase “whether to allow them to be called to the pulpit”.

    If they are indeed being called to the pulpit, should church members be questioning the decision of the one doing the calling?

  3. Amen to that; showing love to our neighbours follows the Gospel tradition, while I’m of the opinion that those spewing hatred are missing the boat. Our church joined the RIC program some years ago, and it’s been an interesting journey, and not one we regret at all.

    Kristopher: a call recommendation re a specific candidate may come from church council, but in most Protestant traditions it’s subject to a general vote at a congregational meeting.

  4. Initially I was distressed that the church didn’t make a more public affirmation of glbt persons as members of the body of Christ, including lifting the gifts of all called people to proclaim the gospel. But now that we’re full fledged into the conversation in our own congregation, I think we’re being forced to think through loving relationships in general, our own sexual identity and how we all are called to live in loving relationship with one another. Painful conversations to be sure, but in the end I think we will all grow and benefit. I am so thankful that you, Paul, have endeavored to join the conversation.

  5. > I’m of the opinion that those spewing hatred are missing the boat

    Call me an unfit believer or a non-believer, if you like but I fail to see that hatred. There _are_ communities where even married couples are not sitting next to each other during the service. The men sit left and the women sit right of the aisle. I’m not married so thats not a problem for me, but I would not call that “one gender sits left of the aisle, the other right” sitting order “hatred”. Probably any man admitting sleeping in the same room as a woman while not being married (or, at the very least engaged) is not “exactly welcome” at some communities, is that hatred, too?

  6. I dunno, Totty. Groups of people holding signs saying “God Hates Fags” is pretty much hatred. We are not encountering that level of animosity at our church, but there are people there who are convinced that if you are born gay, you are therefore called to lead a chaste and celibate life. We are not encountering hatred in our discussions at our church, but it’s out there in the US, and it’s naked and unmistakable.

    And there’s a difference between disapproval because of what you do, and disapproval because of what you are.

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