Wednesday, May 10, 2006

If you haven't gotten it yet, this is the continuation of a series of private messages between me and another pastor.

Hi Bill,

What makes me sad is that a friend of mine that I have had for 20 years will not let me talk. She keeps moving the conversation to finding a girlfriend. I asked if it bothered her to have me talk because I would not want to make her uncomfortable. She said, "No, that's ok" but I feel that mentioning wanting to find a man to share time with is taboo. I also feel that trying to get feedback on changing denominations or even leaving my call is also taboo.

I enjoyed talking with my shrink because he is very supportive of my struggles. I just hate the feeling of needing support but feeling like I am an imposition.

In talking with Archie (my shrink), I keep finding more and more "incidents" that point to this being more than a "choice." I am trying to realize that I have avoided relationships with women because I didn't want to be with them. But I wanted to be with women because I wanted to be "normal." But I think I have had a gay bent all of my life. It really feels liberating to come to grips with it.

I still do not know how I am going to talk to my family about it, but that is down the road.

I want to go out and meet someone. I've lived alone for way too long. But yet I feel I have made a promise to not only my congregation but to the ELCA. Right now I am wanting to turn the whole thing back and jump back into the closet. I feel like it is all going to overwhelm me.

I need to trust in God.

Oh! I found this funny. Archie is Jewish and told me that Levitical Law is no longer relevant to our world. We need to look at law with intelligence.

This is hard, I would never choose this.

Thank you my friend.

Happy Birthday! Celebrate like no one's looking!



Your friend may be struggling with this in her own way. She'll have to come to grips with the changes in you - not to the extent you do, obviously, but still. When a person's "obvious" orientation shifts, many of their old relationships shift as well. Be patient with her, the change is undoubtedly hard, or she would show by her actions that she's more comfortable. Perhaps it would be better not to talk to her about some issues until she approaches you with them.

In feeling like you are an imposition, two things here. Shrinks and pastors both exist to listen and help where they are needed. Everyone, in their own way, needs help. You're not an imposition, you're in need of those who listen. Nothing wrong with that, at least you're willing to do it. Think of all the other clergypeople who are GLBT and refuse to deal with those issues. Better to need help and get it than need it and suffer in silence. I don't think that's what Jesus had in mind.

About talking with your family, that will come in its own time, and only you will know when. I'm all for taking this one slowly, coming out as a slow, gradual process. And I hate to say it, but it's true so I must, some relationships must be kept in the dark to actually continue. Only you know your family and friends, don't let anyone push you into telling them sooner than you're ready. When the time comes, you'll know.

If you feel heterosexual orientation was an underlying factor in both your hiring and your ordination, and to act on what you feel your actual orientation is would betray that trust relationship, then perhaps simply choosing to wait until you clear matters up a bit more in your own mind would help. I'm all for the honoring of covenant, but covenants between humans and covenants between a church and a human can be dissolved. It's something akin to a marriage - both sides agree to the covenant. When the relationship is no longer tenable, I think it's best to dissolve the covenant before taking action outside the relationship. Of course, I'm also a fan of counseling and trying to keep covenants together. But it also sounds like neither of your partners will support you in your recent revelation. But. They might. It's surprising where you find support and where you don't. Sometimes you think that someone or something will be unsupportive and find an immense amount of love there, and vice versa. A difficult path to walk, for sure.

Amen to thinking about Levitical law! I would extend that to all scripture, that we look at it with intelligence. Half the fun is discernment of what the authors have to say to our context. Literalism only works in the context in which the books were written, and even then it leaves no room for nuance, sarcasm, or irony. The thing that most people forget (especially when dealing with the Epistles) is we only have half of the conversation. The letters from the churches to Paul have been lost, but would fill in a lot of gaps. But to the Levitical Law, as is pointed out repeatedly by our liberal brothers and sisters, we're not Levites, no not any, because we no longer need temple mediators because we are ruled by the Lordship of Christ.

I know this is hard, my brother, I know. I am also in conversation with a young person from my congregation who is struggling with orientation discernment. They are not fully convinced, however, that same-sex attraction is not a choice. They are also reading books about orientation-changing therapies. Dangerous waters, and I pointed out to them that every GLBT person I know and have known has said precisely what you just did, which in itself is one of the most compelling arguments for genetics I have found, more compelling than any lab test, because it comes from the heart. While I think some people choose, or are nurtured (normally by neglect or abuse), to an alternate orientation than their own, I think the numbers of heterosexuals who are molded differently (which does violence to their person) are exceptionally low compared with the GLBT population. I think the converse is far more often true, that GLBT persons are "nurtured" - a far kinder term than it should be - to deny how they have been created and choose the other option. The world does violence to GLBT children and youth - and adults, yes - every day. That is not God's plan for social justice in action. That is humanity's inhumanity to humans.


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