Tag Archives: LGBT

On Being Thankful

Sometimes it is good to sit back and reflect on how far our community has come since 1968. I mean really think about it there are people who are spending millions of dollars to make us shut up and go away.

They spend every waking hour trying to convince people we are the last great menace to the world as we know it.

They have gotten so desperate in their efforts to destroy us they have tried to convince the world that with enough prayer God can change us. You would think they would take the hint, since LGBT folks have been around since biblical times. God knows there more ex-ex gays then we can count. We are not going anywhere, anytime soon.

It also strikes me if the police spent as much time trying to bust straight folk for having sex in public places many of our so called leaders may never have been born.

Of course, these are the battles that have to be fought with the Religious Right, politicians who only know power and greed to be converted, rights to be won and relationships to be recognized. There is far, far too much to do; our enemy is strong, well organized, have endless amounts of money and if we stop even for a second we will be overcome.

Then this morning I read from the Luke 17:11-17:

“It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”

They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan.

“Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”

For it occurred to me, our Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgendered community are not much different from the ten lepers. Today it is we who are the untouchables in our world.

In this society, it is we that somehow are cursed by God and shall rot in the pit of hell for the “love that dare not speak its name.” We have been cast out of the Temple, cast out of our families and cast out of our community. Sent to the likes of sleazy bars, baths, and parks.

We have stood at a distance and cry out to God to have mercy on us, to save us, to give us a place where we will know peace. We cry out to God to be restored, healed and given new life. Like the lepers in the story we hear God (Jesus) tell us to go show ourselves to the priests.

While going to the priests we discover gay churches, we discover gay friendly churches and we do as we are told and tell the priests. Those priests and ministers both men and women affirm for us we are whole creations of God!
We have something to offer the community in which we live!

We go into the streets renewed and refreshed, full of energy and desire to fight for what is right. Over the years we have gained a tremendous amount of ground.

We have gone from a community where our “love dare not speak it’s name”, to a community that not only speaks it’s name but shouts it from every village and city!

We have gone from only having parks and bars to literally websites full of options!

We live in a time when it is impossible not to find a book about us, rather than the time our subject was banned.

We have come from a time when our relationships were disguised as brothers and sisters to a time of national debate on our standard of marriage!

We have come from a time of electro-shock therapy to being accepted in mainstream psychology as normal and productive.

We have come from a time when those who make the laws could ignore us and make us illegal, to a time where they court our vote and track hate crimes against us.

When we arrived at some of the Temples to show the priests, at first we were shunned and thrown out. Told the sins of our life would blot out any good.

Yet, even in this, God called out priests who were not blinded by the letter of the law, but rather worked from the spirit of God. They to began to cry out: “God have mercy on us!” They make this cry with and for us. As we travel along the way, we look and see we have been cleansed!

So now as I reflect this morning, I find myself thankful for those who cried out before me. Folks like Rev. George Groh whom years ago said they could throw me out but they would never shut me up and he never stopped reminding me I belonged to God! Rev Troy Perry, whose ministry literally saved my life.

I find myself thankful for those who cry out with me today.

My close and dear friend Rev. Antonio Jones who is the thunder to my lightning.

Rev. Antonio Jones
Rev. Antonio Jones

Rev. James Brewer-Calvert, who heard our church’s cry for shelter and said, “welcome home”.

Rev. James Brewer-Calvert
Rev. James Brewer-Calvert

Rev. Guy Kent (pictured above), who is a tremendous friend, a mover and shaker and a preacher who accepted me just the way I am and called me his friend.

Most importantly today I will go back to my God, my Savior, who has heard my cry and say, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

Friday’s Trash

Is there no end to this trash we are subject to? I was referred to a book called,

“A PARENTS GUIDE TO PREVENTING HOMOSEXUALITY” by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi
In this groundbreaking book Joseph and Linda Ames Nicolosi uncovers the most significant factors that contribute to children’s healthy sense of themselves as male or female. The Nicolosis provide clear insight for identifying potential developmental roadblocks and give practical advice to parents for helping their children. This book offers compassion and hope for all those parents who seek to lay a foundation for a healthy heterosexual identity in their children.

I was asked for my response, well it is Friday, my “day of no compassion”…so here is my response.

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi is the darling of the “Christian right” who is claiming to be able to “convert” one who is a homosexual to a heterosexual and now more particularly in this book that homosexuality can be prevented.

Nicolosi is the inventor of a form of therapy, which is referred to as “Reparative Therapy” and this is nothing more then a political spin of the “religious right” as a cover for the dismal failure of the “ex-gay” movement.

According to Jeffry G. Ford MA, LP

“Its roots stem back to the work of a British theologian and self proclaimed psychologist Elizabeth Moberly. Morberly wrote a couple of books in the early 1980’s that the early “ex-gay movement” found very intriguing. Her research involved no subjects! She simply did an extensive literature review of the outdated works of Irving Bieber, Lawrence Hatterer and Sigmund Freud and came up with a relatively minor reinterpretation of their findings.”

In order for reparative therapy to work, one must assume that “homosexuality” is a disorder of some kind or a personality defect to be corrected. These assumptions are:

1. We are called to love gay and lesbian people “struggling with sexual orientation”
2. Homosexual orientation is chosen or is the result of bad childhood experiences; and
3. People cannot condone this “sinful” behavior that was chosen by their loved ones, and therefore “cannot accept their gay, lesbian and bisexual family members”.

This is pure trash and an out and out lie. Here are some pointers as to why:

1. Sexual orientation is not a disease. In 1973. The American Psychiatric Association removed the term “homosexuality” from the list of mental and emotional disorders. Therefore, it does not need to be cured.
2. “Reparative therapy” doesn’t work. In 1990, the American Psychological Association stated that scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works and that it can do more harm than good.
3. “Reparative therapy” is dangerous. In 1998, the American Psychiatric Association stated it was opposed to reparative therapy, stating, “Psychiatric literature strongly demonstrates that treatment attempts to change sexual orientation are ineffective. However, the potential risks are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior…”
4. According to the American Medical Association, “most of the emotional disturbance experienced by gay men and lesbians around their sexual identity is not based on physiological causes but rather is due more to a sense of alienation in an un-accepting environment. For this reason, aversion therapy is no longer recommended for gay men and lesbians.”
5. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior (2001) asserts that homosexuality is not “a reversible lifestyle choice.” (Information supplied from: “Reparative” Therapy or “Ex-Gay” Ministries page of the National P-Flag website)

I would like to note for the record that “struggling with sexual orientation” is the “key” card in the “house of cards therapy”. This comes from the same idiocy, which we know about concerning the American Indians: who had no idea they were savages till the arriving Christians told them they were. To this I will offer this. I am 52 year old, gay man who is the Pastor of an inner-city Christian Church, own a home, pay my taxes, contribute to the national economy, vote in every election, and live a full, loving, and exciting life with my same gender partner of 25 years.

I assure my readers it has not been a struggle but rather an incredible blessing! Further the people who struggle with this issue do so because they have been told they are some sort of “abomination of God”

We struggle with this issue because the morally frozen and hypocritical heterosexuals tell us too. When my Father, caught me masturbating at the age of 12 or so…he told me God would kill me for doing that and quoted scripture and said: “But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.” (Genesis 38:9-10)

It should also be noted this whole idea of “reparative therapy” or conversion therapy is a religious question trapped inside a psychological costume.

Since the “religious right” no longer has a strong theological argument for condemning homosexuality…they have turned to the secular world to help them.

“Reparative Therapy” is based upon several religious lies or more correctly “Christian” lies. Some of which are:

The Book of Leviticus expressly forbids homosexual sex.
The purity laws of the ancient priesthood are a code of ethics rooted in a time and culture that is far removed from today’s world. Among other things it forbids shaving, wearing clothing made of two different materials, eating rare meat, and many other things. The edict against homosexual sex is part of this code, no more or no less important than the verse that forbids harvesting an entire field of grain or piercing an ear. It is important only as a historical document, not as a set of rules to follow in this time.

Sodom was destroyed for the sin of homosexuality.
Sodom and homosexuality were not connected until the Middle Ages. In Biblical days it was acknowledged that Sodom was destroyed for greed and inhospitality. While some believe that it was probable that the men of Sodom were bent on raping Lot’s visitors, this was an act of violence, not an indication of the sexual preference of the male population of the city. There are many references of Sodom in the Bible (Ezekiel 16:49; Mark 6:11; 2 Peter 2:6-8, among others) but none of them mention homosexuality.

There are scriptures affirming the Biblical condemnation of homosexual sex.
(Romans 6: 26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy) “There is no doubt this is a condemnation of homosexuality. Yet there is a twist. Paul, as well as other authors of scripture, understood the practices they contemned as perversion, to be acts committed by heterosexuals. Modern considerations of sexual orientation were not considered by Biblical writers.” (Rev. Guy Kent “questingparson.org” “Homosexuality and the Church” essay)

It should be pointed out that because a few verses either show favorably or unfavorably towards a subject, does not mean the “Bible” supports or doesn’t support something.

The Bible is a collection of sacred writings that come from different time periods and are written by different authors trying to explain from their point of view who God is and how we as humans relate to and journey with God. The views of each of these authors are as varied as the authors themselves. One must always remember that the Bible is a history and guide to a faith. The Bible is not the end- all and be-all on any subject of faith. It may be divinely inspired but hardly divinely written.

One’s psychological sanity and safety should never be set aside for the sake of a particular religious belief, particularly when there is on going evidence for one’s sexual orientation being formed at an early age and having far more to do with genetics then religion or particular behaviors.

The “religious right” and Nicolosi have spent so much time trying to eliminate the gay community, they have missed the vast majority of people in the LGBT community who lead wonderfully wholesome lives.

Maybe one day there will be research done in this part of the gay, lesbian bi or transgendered community that is whole, healthy and happy, but until then we will have to endure the lies and misinformation of the religious right and the fraudulent psychological “equine fecal matter” being set forth by people like Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.

This guy and his ilk are wolves in sheep’s clothing looking to make a buck at the expense of people’s mental and emotional well being.

Jesus’ Memo to the Haters: Worry About Yourselves

Let’s start with some quotes that I have been subjected to for the last 30 or 40 years:

“SODOMY IS AN ABOMINABLE SIN, WORTHY OF DEATH.”

“SODOMITES ARE PROUD OF THEIR SIN (“GAY PRIDE”), AND IN THAT PRIDEFUL STATE THEY CANNOT REPENT – YOU CANNOT REPENT OF SOMETHING YOU’RE PROUD OF.”

“THERE IS A HELL WHERE ALL IMPENITENT SINNERS WILL RESIDE FOR ALL ETERNITY. THAT INCLUDES SODOMITES (CALLED “DOGS”).”

“Matthew Sheppard has been in hell for 3209 days.”

“Homo sex is a sin”

“Men with men, and women with women; it is an abomination,” citing Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:18-32.

“God Hates the USA”

“God Hates Fag Enablers”

“Fags are worthy of Death”

“Your Pastor is Lying”

Finally a letter I got because of my previous blog:

“This story of yours mocks God, you need to look at Romans more carefully without your bias about what you want or what your needs are. It talks about persons thinking they are wise and being fooling and their hearts darkened. It also talks about dishonoring your bodies and changing the truth of God into a lie. I can honestly say there are so many Christians out there now who try to justify their behavior. If we don’t believe any of the bible and feel the need to justify or change it for our own needs why bother? God is not mocked. You are not a messenger of God, but a tool of the Devil and you will pay the price with the burning of your soul in hell!”

All I could do after reading this was shake my head in wonderment of how mean some so called Christians could be. How on earth could anyone think that what happen that early morning in the hospital was changing the truth of God into a lie? Here was the truth of God being played out in real life and this person denied it is real, denied the absolute unconditional love of God.

My first response in most of these cases is to mention the story of “Peter the coward”, you know the one who denied even knowing Jesus not once but three times, and after being forgiven by Jesus started whining about John. Then Jesus saying,

“If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?”

This would be a nice biblical way of telling some folks to stay out of the LGBT community’s bedrooms and other peoples faith walk and take care of their own relationship with God. Yet I guess it is not that easy. I mean why are these people so worked up over the prospect of God actually loving God’s LGBT creation and wanting to be relationship with them?

Then I re-read Luke 15:25-32 (The Message) and it hit me. These people are the older brother in the story. They have spent their lives staying the course, going to church every Wednesday and Sunday. They show up at all the church functions without fail.

They pray at every meal. They pray before every game. They pray before tests. They pray before, during and after church. They pray before going to sleep.

They serve on all the right church committees. They clean the church. They participate in church services by ushering, being greeters, readers, and singing in the choir.

They are the guardians of the money, the keepers of the church property and serve on the committee that calls the Pastor and proclaims the one called, is most assuredly of God.

They are the keepers of the law, seeing to it that anyone who does not keep the rules is properly punished and removed from the fellowship.

They are the keepers of the moral law even when they may fall short themselves-for after all no truer words have been spoken on their behalf then when the older brother in the story says,

“Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money (blessings) on whores (gay life style) shows up and you go all out with a feast!”

If you don’t think that is true, you should have been at “Gay Pride” in Atlanta this year. They were lined up on the street corner with their signs that read much like the quotes at the beginning of this blog. For a group of people who were right with God…they were saddest, unhappiest and angry people I have ever seen.

They never hear God clearly say to them,

“you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead (out of relationship with God), and he’s alive (back in relationship with God)! He was lost, and he’s found!”

Yep that is it… and they have become the Peter spoken of at the end of the Gospel of John. Except now they are whining about LGBT folks having a place in God’s kingdom too. Maybe they ought to listen more closely to the response of the Messiah.

“They want to get married!” “What is that to you? You follow me.”

“They want to be ministers!” “What is that to you? You follow me.”

“They call themselves Christian but have sex outside of marriage!” “What is that to you? You follow me.”

I agree when one comes back into relationship with God and the Christ one becomes a new person and should attempt to live out a life which “does justice, acts mercifully, and walks humbly with God” [Micah 6:8]. Even more importantly following the command of the Christ: “That you love one another as I have loved you. Understanding from the depths of our souls this statement of Jesus; “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

So, let me ask where is the justice in condemning LGBT people for something they do not choose? Where is the mercy in denying those same people job protection, health benefits and the ability to marry and be in covenant with one another? How is it walking humbly with God to insist in the world which God created, the definition of sexuality is only their definition of what is natural and when this definition gets troublesome they simple re-define it so that they continue in the good Christian lifestyle.

You see, I believe it was Jesus who said, “let the one without sin cast the first stone.”

Those who are the most worried about the LGBT community living in sin should not be casting stones our way to begin with. Why with adultery, fornication, divorce, lust, murder, theft, spousal abuse, child abuse, and idolatry they have plenty to be concerned about themselves and should leave us GLBT Christians alone.

Gee I wonder, given all that “heterosexual people” do that is horrible before God, could someone please explain how Christian heterosexuals can continue living a straight lifestyle?

Oh yea I almost forgot…“What is that to you? You follow me.”

A House Divided

As I continue to write this blog, I praise God for the fact I have at least one regular reader, my mentor, my friend and sometimes my nightmare, “the Questing Parson. If you have not checked out his blog you should, it is one of the best.

He told me in e-mail;

“Blogging, when one takes it seriously, brings more discipline, more clarity of thought, and more desire to inform one’s self. I’m betting you’re going to start doing more reading and studying than you ever imagined.”

Of course he was right.

I read an old sermon by Dr. L. Bruce Miller of Robertson-Wesley United Church of Christ from Alberta, Canada. His sermon was about Canada’s Supreme Court decision to include in the Human Rights portion of the constitution the words “sexual orientation”. He likens this to the resurrection of Christ.

He sees the gay, lesbian community being dead spiritually. Through no fault of their own, but rather the Church is killing them. The methodology for killing us is through its lethargy and apathy, by tolerating and perpetuating institutions and patterns of death rather than life. He states that resurrection is about transformation.

“Transforming from death to life, from spiritual alienation and estrangement to spiritual fulfillment and genuine connectedness to others.”

He goes on to give several life-transforming examples including the high court’s decision.

He has a point. Our LGBT community is under going a slow death. It is a very deliberately planned and well-carried out death sentence.

Something as simple as safe housing for Trans folks seems to be a good example. Recently, there was the denial of safe housing for one who did nothing wrong except express her correct gender. None of the shelters in Atlanta would open their doors to this pre-op male to female trans person. I might also add that several “main-line Christian organizations and churches” refused to help as well. The cost for this person of God was much too high.

After losing her job, her family, and ultimately being denied a safe place to rest, she took her own life by placing a .357 into her mouth and pulling the trigger. How very sad, especially when a little compassion and guts might have saved her life. Before people say, “Well she could have come to us, we would have helped”.

Atlanta is a big city and very few churches are marketing themselves as being progressive, welcoming and a place where there are no walls. Come on if we are honest LGBT issues in most churches is really more like “Don’t ask, don’t tell” because pastor’s doesn’t want to split the church. LGBT issues are spoken of in a whisper. It is no big surprise she did not find you.

Yet, I am even more terrified, because this is happening right in front of the leadership of the GLBT community and they are too busy trying to fit in to see it. We as a community have become too focused on being acceptable and respectable.

I am terrified because we (LGBT folks) are trying to hold hands with the very institution perpetuating a genocide. Like those living the “battered wife syndrome” we keep going back for more because

“we just know they will change”

.

My friends might be saying: “How are we doing this?” We are doing this by trying to blend in and be a part of the church rather than calling it out in truth and claiming our rightful place within the creation of God. While the Church is telling us we are loved…under the radar the Church is telling us we are an abomination.

The Lutherans are saying, “we will ordain you to ministry, but don’t have sex.”

The Roman Catholics say, “come to church just don’t take communion, have sex or want to get married. “If one of our priests messes up, we will cover it up.”

There is a part of the Episcopal Church that not only doesn’t want gay folks in ministry but they don’t want women either so they have declared war. They say they haven’t but what else would you call it when you set up your own church within a church?

The United Methodist Church, oh God where do I go with this, let it suffice to say as a former member of the UMC “people who live in glass houses ought not being throwing stones at the LGBT community under any circumstances”.

By bringing this up I will be told I am bashing the Church. Yet one cannot get away from the evil effects of abusive and oppressive use of the Bible and religion against the LGBT community.

We are systematically taught that we are evil, that we choose to be homosexual and that we are depraved.

In our deepest being we wonder: “Am I going to hell?” “Could this love I feel for my partner not be of God”? So we fear by being different from the majority we will go to hell. So we do everything we can to say we are not different.

We buy the slogan, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” We let affirmative action go by the wayside because it is race discrimination rather then equal opportunity. We tell people in our own community what is morally correct because it is so by interpretation of the scripture by the Church. The same Church, by the way, that says we are an abomination in the sight of God.

The same Church that says women must submit to men.

The same Church that says they are pro life and than willingly support the snuffing out the life of another human being by lethal injection. This is nothing more then late term abortion, but then what do I know.

The same Church that says women do not have a place in the pulpit.

The same Church that if their “cash-cow” pastor gets a divorce will change the rules so the cash keeps coming in.

The same Church that will punish a “progressive” congregation in the inner city by sending it a pastor from the suburbs who will then destroy all evidence of progressive thought in less then a year.

We in the GLBT community must stop deceiving ourselves. This is not political or about an institution. This is about our soul.

We must begin to speak the truth of God’s love for all people. We must speak this truth as a whole creation of God, rather then some freaky “love that dare not speak its name”. We must make this claim with the full knowledge that we are uniquely and wonderfully made in the image of God.

We must begin celebrating our gifts because we are gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered and God has something for us to do, something to give back to this world.

We can no longer be content not to be fired from our jobs, get insurance benefits or live quietly in the suburbs.

We must talk about our history, our heroes. We must act rather the react. We must point out that some of the best; the brightest and most articulate people of the world have come from the LGBT community. One of God’s gifts to the world.

We must point out that in blighted urban areas, it is our talented and creative community who rebuilds and puts life back into the area.

We must talk about how in the midst of our young dying that we have taught the world how to die with dignity and to live life to the fullest.

We must confront and refute the blatant lies and fear mongering of the religious bigots. Now is not the time to sit quietly in the comfort of our homes while the LGBT youth of the world continue to die, get beat to the point of death or drown out who they are in alcohol and drugs.

I ponder the same question that Jesus asked so long ago when he asked: “What does one profit if they gain the whole world but sacrifice their soul?” My fear is if we continue on our current path, we might gain the world but we will have lost our souls.

I would rather travel the path that shouts loudly and clearly,

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 8:38-39 New International Version)

A House Divided

Two things have happened to me recently. One thing was I was finding it hard to explain what my vision for our community was about and to explain why that was hard to do. Then I was feeling increasingly frustrated with our community (GLBT). Then I read a couple of articles that suddenly put form to my hard to explain vision.

I read a sermon by Dr. L. Bruce Miller of Robertson-Wesley United Church of Christ from Alberta Canada. His sermon centered on Canada’s Supreme Court decision to include in the Human Rights portion of the constitution the words “sexual orientation”. He likens this to the resurrection of Christ.

He sees the gay, lesbian community being dead spiritually. Through no fault of our own, but rather the “Christian Church” is killing us. Its methodology of this murder is through its lethargy and apathy. By it’s tolerating and perpetuating institutions and patterns of death rather than life. He states that resurrection is about transformation. “Transforming from death to life, from spiritual alienation and estrangement to spiritual fulfillment and genuine connectedness to others.” He goes on to give several life transforming examples including the high court’s decision.

Suddenly, I said yes! This is it exactly. Our community has been under going a slow death. A very deliberately planned and well carried out death sentence. Dr. Miller gives the following example of the “Christian Church’s” message to its homosexual sisters and brothers.

“We should listen to the children, like the diary of young Bobby Griffith: ‘February 19, 1992. Why did you do this to me God? Am I going to hell? That’s the gnawing question that’s always drilling little holes in the back of my mind. Please don’t send me to hell. I’m really not that bad am I? …Life is so cruel and unfair!’ In desperation and despair, Bobby killed himself. It is only by listening that we can come to see the other as a real person made in the image of God, loved by God, and as caring and compassionate as any of us.”

I am terrified, because this is happening right in front of our community and we are too busy trying to fit in to see it. We as a community have become focused on being acceptable and respectable. To call what the “Christian Church” is doing murder is too lenient. Genocide is a much better description. I am terrified because we are trying to hold hands with the very institution perpetuating this genocide.

At this point you may be saying; “How are we doing this?” We are doing this by trying to blend in and be apart of rather than speaking out in truth and claiming our rightful place within the creation of God. While the “Christian Church” is telling us we are loved…it is telling our young they are an abomination. Our young are hearing the message, why aren’t we?

The second thing that struck me was an article written by Dr. Rembart Truluck called Genocide is Murder. In this article Dr. Truluck says, “Recently a new twist has developed in the war of homophobic religionists against us. We are accused of bashing Christians when we point out the evil effects of abusive and oppressive use of the Bible and religion against homosexuals. My e-mail that comes to my web site has made it abundantly clear to me that the main reason gay and lesbian people are suicidal is because of the twisted and demeaning religious teachings that have turned homosexual people against themselves.”

Trouble developed in my previous church because the leadership no longer wanted to be a gay church. They thought I was being too political. They no longer wanted to hear the words gay, lesbian, bi or transgender from the pulpit. The message was clear with statements made such as: “I have been gay for 40 years and have had no problems.” “Holy Unions and marriage are not the same thing, we can’t get married anyway.” “Race relations and homosexuality and its acceptance are different issues.” “People with AIDS should not have been so promiscuous.” “The church has no place in government or policy.” “We can’t win the spiritual battle, so lets concentrate on something a majority of the American people support-employment.” “I almost died in the pew when you said the Christian Church was our enemy.”

My friends, we are buying this equine fecal matter and hoping that it will be a rose. We as a community are making those statements because like Bobby Griffith we are systematically taught we are evil, that we choose to be homosexual and we are depraved. In our deepest being we ask; “Am I going to hell?” So we fear by being different from the majority we will go to hell. So we do everything we can to say we are not different. We buy the slogan, “the one with the most toys when they die wins.” We let affirmative action go by the wayside because it is race discrimination rather then equal opportunity. We tell people what is morally correct because it is so by interpretation of scripture by the “Christian Church”. The same church, by the way that says we are an abomination in the sight of God. The same church that supported slavery. The same church who told the American Indians they were savages. The same church that says women must submit to men. The same church that says they are pro life and than willingly support the snuffing out the life of another human being by lethal injection. The same church that says women have no place in the pulpit. The same church that “will travel over sea and land to make single convert, and when they have that one will make that one twice as fit for hell…” (Matthew 23:15)

We must stop deceiving ourselves; this is not a political war, this is a war of the soul. We must begin to speak the truth of God’s love for all people. We must speak this truth as a whole creation of God, rather then some freaky love that dare not speak its name.

We live in a country where morals, ethics and spirituality take a back seat to economics and physical security. Rather then celebrating our gifts to our world because we are gay, lesbian, bi or transgender we have become content not to be fired from our jobs, get insurance benefits or live quietly in the suburbs.

We no longer talk about our history, our heroes. We do not point out that in blighted urban areas, it is our talented and creative community who rebuilds and puts life back into the area. We do not talk often enough how in the midst of our young dying that we have taught the world how to die with dignity and to live life to it’s fullest. We do not attack and refute the blatant lies and fear mongering of the religious bigots. Instead, we sit quietly by in the comfort of our homes while the Bobby Griffith’s of the world continue to die, get beat to the point of death or drown out who they are in alcohol and drugs.

I fear that our community has become too comfortable to remember the sacred words that say; “what is it that God requires of you? That you do justice, act mercifully and walk humbly with your God.” Loving God requires doing justice, being Christian in the spiritual sense is about doing justice.

I ask each reader today to ponder the same question that Jesus asked so long ago when he asked; “What does one profit if they gain the whole world but sacrifice their soul?” My fear is if we continue on our current path, we might gain the world but we will have lost our souls.

A Move to the Dark Side

Remember I said I was looking forward to a nice quiet evening at home with my husband, dogs, a good book and some Braves baseball? Well all that got flushed down the toilet when I read the following e-mail. (Printed in its entirety)

By the way this is going to be a longer piece-so to my good pastor friend and mentor who is going to yell at me, so let this be consider an essay. For the rest of you get a cup or coffee or your favorite beverage when reading, and pull up a chair and set a spell.

<<”Hi Friends, Many of you may have already heard the news that I was officially removed from the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on Monday, July 2, 2007. I lost my appeal, and Bishop Warren won on every point of his cross-appeal. I want to thank all of you for your prayers and your amazing support during this last year. It’s been an overwhelming experience to receive such affirmation and love. I’m including some things that I’ve written in the last couple of days, in case you’re interested. I’ve also included the full decision from the Committee on Appeals, a frightening document in its lack of grace, compassion, and vision. Primarily, however, I simply wanted to thank you for holding me and giving me such strength to take on the challenge that the charges, the trial, the appeal, and the final judicial decision provided to me in this last year. Peace,
Bradley

STATEMENT FOR THE PRESS, July 5, 2007

I’m disheartened that the Committee on Appeals would remove me from the roster without ever meeting me; without meeting the people of St. John’s Lutheran Church; or without even coming to Atlanta to experience our congregation at work in the neighborhood. Their decision was made on paper, not face to face.

I’m afraid this confirms what so many think about that church; that it’s a bureaucracy that’s more interested in following rules than it is witnessing to the compassionate love of God. I’m ashamed that this document comes from the denomination that I have served for the last twenty years. I would have hoped that it might have, at least, mentioned Jesus or offered to pray for me and for this congregation.

I want my denomination to witness to the Jesus that I know and love; a savior who is more interested in relationships more than in rules. I think that has always been the heart of the Lutheran message: God is, first and foremost, a gracious and loving God. God isn’t a heartless judge.

So I’m sad today; sad that the ELCA didn’t do the compassionate thing; sad that the journey for justice must go on longer.

But I’m also encouraged; encouraged by the love of this congregation; encouraged by our determination to continue to be faithful participants in the church; encouraged that the ELCA will have a chance to change the policy once and for all in Chicago.

St. John’s Lutheran Church has been an amazing community to serve. We have been growing and thriving these last seven years, and I expect that we will continue to do that. The congregation issued their call to me in 2000, and as far as we’re concerned, that call has not changed. The good news for today is that we can now return to the ministry and mission that we have been called to do. We’re going to continue to welcome everybody who comes through our doors; to work in our city for justice; to teach our children the Bible; and to be a faithful and loving voice in the larger church.

Pastor Bradley E. Schmeling
St. John’s Lutheran Church
Atlanta, Georgia 30307
www.stjohnsatlanta.org”>>

Let me start by saying the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) blew it. The local Bishop, the “Discipline Hearing Committee”, and the “Committee on Appeals” all missed the opportunity of a lifetime. They had the opportunity to do justice, act mercifully and walk humbly with God. They had an opportunity to “Walk the Talk” of Jesus the Christ but instead opted for the rule of law “by the teachers of the law and Pharisees”, the hypocrites! Right now you might be saying or thinking “Kind of strong there Reverend”? Damn right! Remember the name of this blog.

I am so sick of power and control issues in the church messing with the Gospel and doing great harm to the folks they have a charge to protect I want to throw up.

Pastor Bradley noted in a journal entry: “What struck me most profoundly in reading the document is the absence of Jesus. He is never mentioned, nor is there any reference to theology, prayer, or compassion. This decision is reminiscent of the bishop’s argument during the trial that “Theology and the Bible are not relevant to this case.” It’s astounding to me that the Lutheran church would publish a document with no biblical, theological, or pastoral language. This document is, perhaps, the most graceless writing I have ever experienced from the church.”

It is this absence or anything biblical in their considerations that strike me also. There are two stories, which fit Pastor Brad’s situation if not exactly certainly within the same framework.

The first is the story of Esther. Found in the Old Testament it is a story about breaking the rules for a far greater good. You can find the story at Esther 2:19-4. Esther did not want to break the rules even though it might save a great number of people. It was too risky cause after all she could get killed. However, she was told: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

The Bishop of the ELCA should have read this story before bringing charges against Pastor Brad considering these charges carry with them damage that will affect hundreds if not thousands in the ELCA.

I also wonder about this story of Jesus: John 8:1-11. Here is a woman who is clearly guilty of the crime for which she is charged. The punishment was also clear. Yet Jesus knew the hypocrisy in trying to carry it out and set it aside. I know people will point to the fact he said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” But that is not the point here. The point is that Jesus saw that it was bad law and the people who wanted to enforce it were not in a good position to carry it out. When he said to the women, “Then neither do I condemn you,” the “spokesperson” for God set aside the law for the greater good, the women’s soul.

I am familiar with Lutheran polity…I really don’t think they are in a position to carry out their law towards homosexuals either. Please note I said their law not God’s.

I firmly believe I can speak on behalf of the congregation of Gentle Spirit Christian Church and the faithful of this community, to offer our affirmation and support for Pastor Brad and his community who now feeling the pain and sorrow caused by an outdated polity and an oppressive and hypocritical acts of discrimination.

Today I kneel in faithful prayer and support with the gentle folks in Christ at St. John’s. As now they will have to make difficult choices. Will they follow the law of the church or follow the voice of God who called Pastor Brad to this church to begin with. Oh don’t be fooled this is not about Pastor Brad, as it goes far deeper. The ELCA made a choice to bring to trial one of God’s greatest gifts: LOVE. As the 21st century dawns I have taken note of the irony of a denomination whose beginnings had as one of its thesis their ministers not being celibate. As I observe just this small piece of history I can see no legitimate justification for traditions that come out of ancient ignorance, prejudice and fears.

If we are to take seriously the Gospel of Jesus the Christ who came to serve and love all, then we must “walk the talk” and live the Gospel – Be the Gospel. If not, can we say that we really are following the Christian path? The keepers of the law removed from the clergy this good and decent pastor of God for his expression of God’s greatest gift to us all as a crime against the church. As my Daddy use to say, “Lord child what the hell were you thinking”?

In does fact it brings to our mind the statement of Jesus when he said concerning the leadership of his day, “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.”

I would ask the ELCA how on one hand you can say that being a homosexual is not a reason to deny ordained ministry, but on the other hand the expression of our sexuality is. How is the expression of our deep love for our partner shared in the most private and intimate moments any less moral then yours? Oh wait… I know now… you have been peeking into our bedrooms and saw something you didn’t understand so it had to be immoral and you made a law against it. Shame on you! Shame, Shame, Shame! Shame on you!

More on Gay Marriage

Wow…say something about people from the LGBT being able to get married and you would think the world was ending tomorrow…say something about feeding the hungry and no one says a word. Well since I have been asked about “gay marriage” hundreds of times, here is a written interview concerning the subject. Hopefully my last comments on the subject since there is no possible way to deny us loving our partners except by making it against the law. Folks tried that and it didn’t work, we still found the love of our life. By law you can deny us our rights to the basic things that every married couple enjoys but we will still find the one to love with the very depths of our soul. So we are not going away anytime soon, unless of course straight people stop having babies.

1. What is your personal opinion of same-sex marriage?

Marriage is a covenant between two people, God and their community. The genders of the couple does not matter. Over the last several years the debate concerning “gay marriage” has risen to new heights of passion, bigotry and nastiness. I suspect the basic reason for this is centered around power and control issues. Those who have defined marriage as the exclusive right of heterosexuals have lost all the other power and control battles: women’s right to choose, women’s right to work for equal pay, women get to vote, all races get to vote, mixed races can have marriage, segregation of the races is no longer legal, etc. etc. I would also suspect they are probably not very secure in their own sexual orientation, otherwise why would LGBT people being married effect them? So this whole gay marriage thing gets very personal for them.

Marriage up until very recently was less about two people who love each other deeply and are committed to living in a way that will enhance that love. Rather, it was about tax breaks, exemptions, property and legitimate (read: legal) sex. In fact it was not till the late 20th century the whole marriage for love thing came about anyway, prior to this the really huge reason for getting married was property and inheritance. My goodness for centuries marriages were arranged by the family with no thought at all about love. I wonder which scenario God is more concerned about?

Further as I have said before, we live in a world where marriage vows are usually not worth the paper on which they are written. Suddenly now they mean something because gay folks want recognition of their love? Yet the idea of a covenant is the total investment of those involved. I wonder if God is more concerned about promises and covenants that call on people to go deeper in their relationship than simple dogma and church rules and an institution which has been terrible hypocritical over the centuries.

2. Does the Bible really say that homosexual marriage shouldn’t be possible?

No, because the people of biblical times did not understand homosexuality the way we do, just as I am sure people of biblical times would have thought flying in an airplane or going to the moon was sinister and evil. God gave us free will and the ability to learn. I would hope we have learned a few things in a few thousand years.

3. Should the definition of marriage be based on the Bible, if there is a definite definition?

I gave my definition of marriage under the first question. Furthermore, I will ask again what was the greatest commandment? Love God your God with all your heart, soul and strength and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. This seems to me to be far more important then worrying about the gender identity of people who want a committed God-filled relationship.

4. How do you feel about homosexuals parenting children?

No different than I feel about straight people parenting children. In fact just check the records and any Department of Children Services anywhere in the United States and one will find that LGBT folks being parents are not the problem. Instead it is a rather shocking number of straight people who have no business ever being near a child let alone parenting children. Throughout history the unspeakable horrors that have been done to children have been done by straight folks not LGBT folks. And before anyone goes where they don’t belong, pedophilia has no sexual orientation. Further the overwhelming majority of pedophiles are straight.

5. Do you feel that homosexual males and lesbians are capable of parenting?

Of course, and there are many who are doing just that. I have a male couple in my church who are raising three children and the kids are just fine. We have a lesbian couple who have given birth to a child and another lesbian couple who have 6 kids between them and all those children are healthy, happy and secure in their families.

6. What do you think of a possible 28th Amendment to permanently restrict homosexuals from getting married?

What will happen to bisexuals or transsexuals? Does this mean anyone who has ever had same-gender sex are banned from getting married? It is a stupid, ill conceived, hateful and a degrading exclusionary amendment.

7. What do you think of those who are strictly against homosexuality and any rights they are fighting for?

They are misguided and probably are not secure in their own gender identity and sexual practices. The question should be: How does recognizing the basic civil rights of every adult in the country affect your identity? My partner and I have been in a committed, married relationship for 25 years. How has that hurt anyone else?

Enough said for now.

Traditional Marriage, or Covenants of Love?

Over the last several years, the debate concerning “gay marriage” has risen to new heights of passion and meanness. I suspect the basic reason for this is centered around power and control issues. Those who have defined marriage as the exclusive right of heterosexuals want to continue to control the rules. It is a “Members (who meet the standard) Only Club”.

Marriage in today’s sense is less about two people who love each other deeply and commit to living in a way that will enhance that love. Rather, it is about 1,000+ tax breaks/exemptions, property, and “legitimate” sex – plus inheritance, hospital visitation and medical choices.

When my partner and I got together we could not claim any of those things. In fact we are denied all those things. All we have is our love for each other in the deepest sense of the word. I wonder which scenario God is more concerned about.

We live in a world where marriage vows are usually not worth the paper they are written on – a world where pre-marital counseling is as much about covenants of love as is wedding planning.

Yet the idea of a covenant is the total investment of those involved. I wonder if God is more concerned about broken promises or covenants that call on people to go deeper in their relationship than simple vows. Finally, I wonder from a spiritual perspective if a God who by biblical definition is both male and female is really concerned about the gender identity of a couple who are willing to live in covenant with each other.

After all, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was – in other words, which commandment should be the basis of who and what we are – his reply was, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

So it seems to me that those who live in glass houses should not be throwing any stones. In my home state of Georgia we once had someone run for Governor who fired an employee because she was a lesbian in a committed relationship, which he claimed was against “moral law”. Of course he didn’t want people to know he had broke state law by committing adultery himself. This hypocrisy prompted a friend of mine to come up with a bumper sticker that read: “**** for Governor: Two first ladies are better than one.”

Making a covenant of love takes the total investment of the two people involved regardless of whether it is between a man and woman, woman and woman or man and man. I would think God is more concerned about covenants that call on all people to go deeper in their relationship than promises designed to get a tax break or make divorce lawyers rich.

My partner and I have been together 25 years and worked through every conceivable challenge to keep our vows to one another. As far as I can tell we have not caused any straight marriages to fail or the collapse of “family values”. We own a home, pay our taxes, contribute to the economy by working and buying products, go to church and to the best of our ability make contributions to the community in which we live.

As for those who might be concerned about what goes on in our bedrooms: We don’t go into your bedroom or concern ourselves with how you express your most intimate feelings. So stay out of ours, because you certainly don’t belong there!

St. Paul defined love in 1 Corinthians 13 by writing: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

If these commandments and definitions are where it begins and ends, then I believe that our God, the God of Jesus the Christ is far more interested in covenants of love regardless of gender identification.

To the morality police and the defenders of traditional marriage: How about you take care and honor the one you love, and we will do the same. Then we all can spend our time, energy and money doing things that really matter to our Creator: Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison. I dare say the world will have a better chance of survival if we do that, rather than getting so worked up over who is getting married.