What Becoming Reconciled Means to Me

I wrote this article for the RUM-NC Chapter 14 years ago, and it still summarizes what I believe even though it is out-of-date since we now have federal laws allowing same-sex marriage.

What Becoming Reconciled Means to Me

Is it fair to ask a 70-year-old woman to question her beliefs about what she's been taught all her life? Is it right to upset her system or reasoning about morality and what's right and wrong. In an effort to right the wrong of generations of discrimination, we sometimes I fear are too condescending in considering the opinions and beliefs of those with whom with disagree.

Sometimes it seems to me that this whole controversy within the Methodist Church has become a political movement and a referendum on homosexuality. I don't want anyone to endorse my sexual orientation or even accept it. In a perfect world, it wouldn't even be an issue.

The Christian Church from the beginning has had difficulty in dealing with sexuality. The question of celibacy and enforced abstinence are not biblical but rather outgrowths of centuries of myths and traditions. To accept homosexuals openly within a church doesn't mean that you accept or overlook the differences. The idea of sex outside of traditional marriage is repellent to many Christians, and I don't intend to question or challenge their beliefs. On the other hand, I don't expect them to condemn me simply because I'm different from them.

The issue is that because of the condemnation of their sexual orientation, which cannot be changed, an entire class of people have been alienated and/or rejected by the church. We are admonished to go and preach the gospel to all the world, and that includes gays and lesbians, the majority of whom are not affiliated with any church --- for good reasons. To me, it is an issue of evangelism, not proselytizing for a cause.

Of course, many gays and lesbians have remained active in the church in spite of the hostile atmosphere and official condemnation. We're lumped together with drug addicts, alcoholics, and sex offenders as suffering from some physical or mental disease. Church people claim to love the sinner but hate their sin, and if only we would "reject our sin" then we could be accepted. Well, the American Psychological Association 31 years ago declared that same-sex orientation was not a deviant behavior nor abnormal --- just different than the majority. We've been a minority of the population since the beginning of time, and no one really knows why.

To become reconciled with one's self, one's identity, and one's sexuality is to become whole. To become a committed member of group is to declare one's self as a whole person and not a sham or to pretend to be we're something we're not. Conversely, when the group knows and understands us as complete persons then they can identify with us and welcome us to the group.

I think that promoting same sex unions and domestic partner benefits is threatening to many people and pushing the political agenda too hard. We have too many other unresolved issues to deal with first, such as non-discrimination in the workplace, housing, and legal standing. In many states we're still self-declared felons, and thus stripped of all rights by simple definition of belonging to a class of people, a clear violation of the Bill of Rights.

But the Methodist Church can never come to terms with this issue via legal wrangling or political maneuvering. It can only come to terms by realizing that the mission of evangelism is primary, and that the church is failing to reach millions of people who otherwise might be saved. To me, who I slept with last night is none of your business. I don't ask you, and I don't expect you to ask me, especially in church. On the other hand, if the Discipline condemns me and others like me unconditionally, then how can we be expected to be loyal to such a denomination?

Many small, older, dying inner city congregations have accepted gays and lesbians into their congregations as they have moved into the neighborhoods. In fact, they've been more openly accepted than people of color, because in other ways " they're such nice people." The Gospel doesn't ordain us to preach only to nice people or people of the same race. We are exhorted to reach out to all people, and that includes people of same-sex orientation. Let's get on with the mission of evangelism and quit quibbling about the dominance of liberal or conservative theological constructs. It's not the Methodist Church that needs to be saved from division. It's the millions of people who don't know the Christ and won't have the opportunity because of the rigidity of some church leaders.