CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©
Our church has breakfast every Sunday morning. Nothing special. Just part of the schedule. Sometimes a fund raiser for a mission project. I was eating and chatting with a 14 year old high school freshman who is new to our church. I always try to sit with new folks. That way, they can’t complain later that they didn’t know what they were getting in to.
There was a really big crowd. I wondered aloud why there were so many more folks there than usual. I hadn’t even gotten any of the French-toast casserole. [There is always a pile of bagels and big bowl of fruit if the cooked stuff runs out.] Then I remembered.
Oh, it must be because after worship we are going to vote on whether to be a Reconciling Congregation.
What does that mean? my new friend asked.
The United Methodist denomination, I explained, can’t quite make up its mind whether to accept gay people into full fellowship. We’ve come some of the way. We say that they are children of God, and it’s okay for them to come to church and be church members, and people should not be unkind to them or discriminate against them, but we won’t ordain them as pastors or perform marriages for them. The Reconciling movement is trying to get the entire denomination to accept everyone fully, including gay people. Right now it is doing it one member and one congregation at a time.
Then he looked straight at me and said, What do you think?
Well, I said, for a long time I sort of went along with the official statement. I had nothing against gay folks. I thought everyone should be nice to them, but that there was something ‘unnatural’ about it, mostly because I just couldn’t imagine having sex, or wanting to, with another man. But a number of gay guys have befriended me through the years, and I was talking with one of them about this. In fact, I was trying to get him to “come over to our side,’ so he could marry our daughter, because he is such a great guy and would make her such a great husband, and he said, Could you come over to our side?
I thought about it. Good grief, what an idea! Well, no, I couldn’t.
Of course you couldn’t, he said. You’re so straight you squeak. I tried for a long time to come over to your side, to be straight, but I finally realized that I have no more choice about how I feel about sex than you do. We were both born with a sexual… well, we can’t call it preference, because it’s not. It’s a sexual reality. It’s no different than being born left-handed or black. We used to say that left-handed and black people were inferior and unnatural and should not be accepted, too. A lot of people still think homosexuality is a choice. Why in the world would anyone choose to be vilified and hated and discriminated against, the way so many people do to gays? I am gay because I have no choice, just like I am white and right-handed because I have no choice.
So, I said to my young friend, what I think is: if there’s no choice, there’s no choice. If you have no choice about the way you are, then I have no choice but to accept and love you the way you are.
Yeah, that’s what I’ve always thought, said the fourteen-year-old. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
The vote to accept the acceptable was 197 to 0. My new young friend stood tall in the picture we took, along with 196 others.
I tweet as yooper1721,
THE STRANGE CALLING, is sort of a memoir, a collection of stories from my ministry. When I first felt I was being “called” by God to be a preacher, the ministry was known as “the high calling.” In my experience, it seemed more like a strange calling. You can get it from the publisher, Smyth&Helwys, or lots of places on the web, including Amazon, B&N, etc.