by Stan Bennett

by Stan Bennett

Saturday, March 1, 2014

An Apology to my LGBT Friends

In one of my seminary classes a fellow student had a sudden allergic reaction that made her body swell up and it threatened to shut off her airway passage.  

It happened quickly and all of us were so shocked at the sight that we froze, except for one woman, another ministerial student who put her arm around our classmate and said, "It's going to be okay. I will take care of you." And then she went through the student's backpack to find the medicine that would help her.   Soon the woman was stable and they were able to get her to the hospital. 

The woman who had the presence of mind when the rest of us froze is the real deal when it comes to caring for other people. She is calm, nurturing, and reassuring. She is a natural toucher when she talks. I never had a conversation where she didn't pat my shoulder and chest and squeeze my arm. Like other good ministers, she surveys the face of the person she speaks to, looking for any signs of distress or struggle.  

I often thought if I had to step down from the pulpit, I would be happy to listen to her every week.  

You know what? Though she's one of the best ministers I've seen, she cannot be ordained in my denomination because she's lesbian.  

My church talks out of both sides of its mouth on the subject of homosexuality. On the one hand, they want to be accepting and gentle, but on the other, they still insist it's sinful behavior, and they won't allow gay and lesbian people to serve as clergy, and they won't allow me to perform a wedding ceremony for gay or lesbian couples.  

I apologize to the LGBT community. My church is wrong and I have not stood up for you. If I were to speak up and and call for the culture to change, I would lose my job, and my credentials. 

A real prophet would speak up regardless of the consequences, but I do not because I must protect my family--I notice most of the biblical prophets weren't married. 

So I'll stay in my own closet for a while longer and when I've given up my credentials voluntarily, I'll try to make it up to my LGBT friends.  Please forgive me for not showing more courage now. 

4 comments:

  1. I am sympathetic, to a point, to Christians who believe the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, in all its forms. I'm sympathetic, because I used to be one of them, one with an unbending view of scripture.

    The funny thing to me, looking back at my former self, is that I also believed that all sins were equal, and I guarantee that everybody has some form of unrepentant sin, so then no one should be ordained.

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    1. Isn't it interesting that we want to pick and choose what we'll be outraged about?

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  2. I'm so very proud of you for starting this journey. I know you'll do whatever you can. I know the guilt you're talking about--I was very fundamentalist once and very anti-.. well, anti-everything-good, I guess. I think to some extent I'll be making amends for the damage I did for the rest of my life. I'm okay with that. When I think of the profound grace and courage LGBT people have shown to me even when I totally did not deserve it and could not reciprocate it, I realize that whatever I do, it'll never equal what they've gone through. I know you've got a lot to protect here and you know what? I also know you will find a way. You've got integrity. This world is lucky to have you. FWIW, I'd listen to you any Sunday too.

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    1. Cas, thanks for the encouragement. I really do hope I get a chance to give significant support to people I've neglected over the years.

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