Sunday, April 09, 2006

The next installment

Here is the next installment of my struggle. If you missed the first part, it is here. If you find this helpful let me know. If you find it self-indulgent, let me know. I just hope it can help someone.

Thanks Bill,

What is frightening to me is that the ELCA is not very open and there are members of my congregation who are not very open.

In the ELCA, it is ok to be GLBT just as long as you don't do anything about it. The thought of staying in denial is just sapping all of my energy. I have hated myself for so long, I am trying to come to grips with it.

I have always felt that there was something wrong with me and unfortunately, the church doesn't do much to help that feeling. I was reaised Roman Catholic and the way I felt was never anything discussed.

Now I am afraid of what this will entail. I don't want to remain single and celebate all of my life but I also don't want to be sneeking around so no one knows. I feel my call is real but if I searched for a mate, I would be in violation of the ELCA. I feeling like I am living a lie.

My therapist has suggested other denominations but that seems drastic.

Thank you, there is something comforting in telling another person.

Peace to you,



More denominations than not are not open to GLBT persons. The ELCA is just one of a very long list. I must admit that as I read your note, my first thought was changing denominations, but I agree with you that it is a drastic situation. It is also, it seems, to be the "easiest" solution to your conundrum. If you were to change denominations, to one where they are open and affirming to GLBT persons, especially clergy, you would no longer have to live a lie. But ... that isn't exactly loyal to your tradition, either.

A question to consider is this: are you called by God to be an ELCA minister, or a minister of God's church? Not to say that the ELCA isn't God's church, but it is one denomination in the diverse Body of Christ. As I see it, I can discern three options at present (not to limit myself, more may become apparent in your struggle):

One - Remain celibate, pray to God for strength in this area, and remain (quite probably) unhappy.

Two - Roll the dice and take your chances. Be willing to stand up and speak your truth in love, that you are gay, that you are called, that you are a minister of God's church. You are a loved creation of God, just like everyone else, and God wouldn't have created you gay and then given you gifts for ministry, and then given you a call, and then opened doors for you, only to watch you squirm and be unhappy. What is God speaking to you in this situation? Is it "be unhappy, I enjoy watching you suffer" or perhaps something like "be a prophetic voice in this denomination, and work toward helping your congregation, or perhaps the denomination, be more open and inclusive to all people"? In my experience, it is probably the latter, but you're the one who needs to discern what God is calling you to do in this situation.

Or, Three: change denominations, find one where you are affirmed for who you are, not despite it.

Always keep in mind that God calls us for ministry, and we are called just as we are, not how the congregation or our denominations want us to be. Also, God wills for us to live the best we can without impinging on the rights of others to live as best they can, always moving creation toward the Kingdom. I think the Kingdom includes everyone in love, not just in tolerance. Let me know if there's any way I can help lighten the cross you've been given.

I'll be praying for you. May you hear the voice of the Lord in the silent spaces.


1 comment:

Steve said...

Benton, brother, it seems we are twin sons of different mothers....

As "most valuable altar boy" at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin RC church in suburban Buffalo, NY, I had "The Vatican Rag" down part for a long time. I found Luther, and Lutherans, during a crisis of faith just before I got sober in 1990.

I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of your story. But the one question which your pastor-pal asked you which I would also ask you is this: what do you have invested in the ELCA that is worth your happiness?

A friend of mine has been quasi sneaking around as a pseudo partnered ELCA pastor. He lives with a "house mate" and is publicly a chaste, celibate man. I've seen enough of them otherwise to at least guess better. I wonder if he ever went over to the ECUSA - he definitely would have enjoyed the vestments better!...

The short answer is, the last time I saw my friend, he was hiding...and he was not happy. I hid for a year and a half at LSTC, and I have never been so depressed. My coming out process was basically suicide avoidance.

I'm looking forward to nibbling my way thru the rest of the posting!