Tag Archives: LGBT

Clearing Out the Temple

Since the end of March I have been trying to write my next blog. I know the subject I want to cover, but I have hit that “writers block” which is made of solid brick.

Part of the reason for the block is there is just so much un-Christian like behavior and events going on that about the time I settle into something I want to say or share something else happens and I find myself unable to write anything that makes any sense or is the least bit thought provoking.

While rummaging in my wasteland of a writers mind, a friend and colleague of mine Rev. Lisa Heilig needed to let off some steam concerning the world we live in and the community in which both are Pastor’s. She is one of those Pastor’s that I greatly admire because she is one who has a “pastor’s heart” and wears it right out there for everyone to see and experience. Currently she is on a Sabbatical so she can do further Studies in the Gospel, Culture, and the Transformation of the Church at Columbia Theological Seminary.

She like a lot of us who work so hard for our communities is tired and frustrated and when I read her words I knew what my block was about, what my frustration is and why I feel so helpless in writing about any subject much less anything pastoral.  She hit the old theological nail on the head!
So while I pull myself out of the swamp of unending excuses for not writing, I give you my friend’s pastoral rant.  I will have my mind cleared to write the blog about gun control and gun violence next week.  In the meantime without further delay I hope Rev. Lisa will touch your heart and jangle your nerves.
Warning: rant ahead. But, even though it is a little lengthy, please read to the end.
 I am over it. I am over the sexism, racism, heterosexism, Transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, ageism, and classism! I have witnessed, sometimes very closely, all of these happen over the years, but at least once in the last week.
I am over it when a woman says something and it is ignored until a man says the same thing. And, while I’m at it, rape jokes are NEVER funny.
I am over it when people of color are targeted by law enforcement in harsher ways and people in mixed race groupings are stared at.
I am over it that my wife of 19 years and I cannot just go down to the courthouse, but have to plan to go out of state to secure our rights.
I am over it that trans* and gender non-conforming people are victims of violence – physical, emotional, spiritual – so often.
I am over it that derogatory “jokes” based on nationality are considered funny.
I am over it that businesses (including some churches) are unwilling to make even minor accommodations for person with differing abilities.
I am over it that young people and their outlook and opinions are so often easily dismissed and that older people’s experience is devalued.
I am over it people are so concerned about affiliating with people and organizations that are the “right” ones, i.e., middle-class…
I am beyond over it with the ways that violence has been become so commonplace
I am over others saying those of us who share these experiences are “too sensitive” or playing a “card” or that when we hold people accountable for their actions of exclusion, that we are bullies.
While I am in rant mode, let me make this clear:
Just because I look like you, does not mean I think like you. And, just because I do not look like you, does not mean I don’t feel like you.
My parents grew up in a segregated South in the 60’s and probably should have been exclusionary and taught us to be, and yet, they did not.
They taught us LOVE.
Not perfectly, because none of us can. I remember one time asking them, specifically, about racism and how they escaped the worldview they grew up in.
My mother talked about how moved she was by watching the news reports about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement and how that spurred her to read and learn more. My father, A Vietnam vet with a colorful way with words, said that, “When the enemy’s on your ass, you don’t care the color of the person who’s got your back, you just care that they do.” They opened up and learned to know better and did better by their children.
I am not perfect, either, and despite my best intentions, may end up with a negative impact on someone or a group of someone’s – for times I have and will do this, I am truly sorry and beg forgiveness as I strive daily to know better and do better, to bring down barriers and build bridges.
And, in the end, although I am over all of the ways we hurt instead of help each other, I have hope for a world where we walk together in the ways of healing and wholeness for all.
It is a deeply spiritual hope that love will be lived out and peace will prevail, a hope bolstered by my faith in the God of my understanding, which is a God of radically inclusive love.
It is a hope strengthened by other situations that I get to see…
when little girls are praised for their smarts and strength, not just for being a pretty princess, when groups of children play together in harmony with no regard for the skin color of those next to them, when discriminatory marriage laws fall and more and more communities pass inclusive non-discrimination laws.
When trans* actress and activist Laverne Cox graces the cover of Time magazine and is interviewed in a respectful, thoughtful manner,
when the gifts and achievements of peoples of all nationalities are lifted up and honored.
When persons of differing abilities are included in the lives of our communities as a matter of course, when the leadership of youth is sought out and valued, and our elders are listened to and appreciated, when we care less about being affiliated and getting things done in the “right” way and more about coming together for good, and when we indeed come together, even in our pain, and find ways to reason together for peaceful resolutions.
We have so much work yet to do. And the work can seem so hard, but it isn’t really just about us. We tell our kids “It gets better” and it gets better faster if we work together with open hearts and minds, with compassion and kindness, so that when our faith flags, someone else can lift us up and carry us until we find our footing again.
Thank you to so many of you who do that for me. Rant is over,
The way and work of love calls – meet you there…
Amen sister, Amen!

MARTA Beating: Pastoral Statement and Call to the Community

The beating of two transgender women on MARTA on May 20th was despicable and degrading.  But sadly, it happens again and again because the transgender community is laughed at, scorned and made fun of.  In my own community their needs are only dealt with as an afterthought.

In the world we live in today there is no “safe way” to be transgender: Some are living very out lives, and some are living fully “stealth” lives. Some are identifying as male, some as female and some as both and neither. Some live in small towns, and some in our metropolitan area. There are things we can do and must do, if the beatings, assaults and killing is to stop.

I would encourage our community and friends to:

  • Educate ourselves about transgender people and the issues which go with that.
  • Let us be aware of our attitudes concerning people with gender-atypical appearance or behavior.
  • Let us make more than a good faith effort to use names and pronouns that are appropriate to the person’s gender presentation and identity.
  • Let us not make assumptions about transgender people’s sexual orientation, desire for surgical or hormonal treatment, or other aspects of their identity or transition plans.
  • Let us keep the lines of communication open with the transgender person(s) in our lives.
  • Let us become more aware of the things which would make life easier and the transition smoother, i.e., markers on drivers licenses, applications and forms.
  • Let us not just sit on our lack of knowledge and understanding. Let us seek out support in dealing with our feelings. This is the 21st century and there are plenty of resources for us to get help.

I also affirm this day the call put forth by the SNaP Coalition‘s demands:

We are asking that the community bring these men forward and that a process of transformative justice be pursued.  We would demand these men attend a Men Stopping Violence course, are made to do community service in support of an LGBT community organization, and be confronted directly by the women they harmed and the larger community and made to hear the impact they have had.

But most importantly, we call on the institutions who are supposed to protect and serve all of us to take this as a call to action and transform the way they do business.  The City of Atlanta should be deeply disturbed by the acts of harassment and violence endured by trans* women both at the hands of the Atlanta Police Department in Midtown and other neighborhoods that have recently been brought to light and by the general public on trains, buses, and on the streets.  Our lives matter, trans* lives matter and we will no longer be silent or swept aside.  Enough is Enough!

God Bless,
Rev. Paul M. Turner

Just Saying…

For the person of faith (in this case Christian) there is this standard which says we are suppose to be fair, merciful and be humble in our walk with God (Micah 6:8).

Jesus taught the greatest love one can express is to lay their life down for another.
Jesus in his entire ministry only gave one command: “A new command I give you, to love one another as I have loved you.”

Jesus also spent almost all his time in his active ministry eating with, partying, healing, loving, visiting, and embracing all those folks that the powers of the day and the really anal folks (conservative then Tea Party today) didn’t like and said were a travesty before God.

Jesus has reportedly said that if someone strikes us we should turn the other cheek.  He also said that if we want to kill (capital punishment) someone we ourselves have to be without sin.

Jesus also says that if we really want to be allowed into the Kingdom of God we need to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned.  By the way there are no if’s ands or buts’ about this list.  It is pretty straight forward and has no exceptions.

Not to mention in a post resurrection appearance Jesus very pointedly told Peter to mind his own damn business. (John 21:20-23)

So if we can all agree these are the major, moral imperatives of the faith, then a few questions need to be asked.

How can the State of Georgia House of Representatives and Senate (Many of whom loudly proclaim their Christian faith) say to my partner and I who have been in a blessed and holy relationship (marriage) in the eyes of our church (see GA. Law about what makes a church) for 31.5 years we are not married?

How does a bunch of legislators (who also loudly proclaim their love for Jesus, at leastat election time) from the state of Kansas even consider much less “overwhelminglyapproved a measuredesigned to bring anti-gay segregation—under the guise of “religiousliberty”—to the already deep-red state.”?

How does Governor Bobby Jindal (A convert to Christianity) with a straight face say, “No church or church-affiliated organization, or individuals whose business is run in a manner consistent with their faith practices, should be required by the state to take steps in conflict with their religion. Nor should they be legally punished for how they treat marital arrangements outside the teachings of their faith. …”  So I guess we can view this two ways if you take into consideration my first question, but I digress.

How did the President of Uganda (a born again Christian) sign into law a bill thatwill jail LGBT people for life under the excuse given by a “Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo, confirmed that PresidentMuseveni made the decision at a conference of his governing NRM party. He addedthat the president based his decision on a report by medical experts whoreported that homosexuality is not genetic but a social behaviour.”?

How do those who call themselves good loving Christians allow for laws and city ordinances that turn homeless folks into criminals?

How are the good bible Christian folks in this country not simply outraged that the Olympics are being held in a country where LGBT people are being hunted down? Is it not interesting how Russia’s, Putin, is waltzing around Sochi promoting his Olympics just like Hitler did during the German Summer Olympic games of 1936.

Hitler was all the while plotting ways to get rid of the LGBT people in Europe. The atrocities that took place against the LGBT community in the 30s and 40s by Hitler are now continuing to occur in Russia.  By the way in this land it is not only my people in trouble as this is a land where the President laughs at our 1st, 2nd, 4th and 13th amendments, so no one is really safe.

Final question:  Why did a good Christian from GDOT order the bull dozing of an entire tent city of homeless men, women and children?

Oh OK, one more question, Why did any good faith claiming, bible believing Christian even get onto the bulldozer?

Actually the answers are all in the book which these folks claim to live by but apparently have never read this part.

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a]wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.11 The greatest among you will be your servant.12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. [14] [b]

15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it.22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.”  (Matthew 23:1-36 NIV)

Just saying, yep just saying!