I listened to two great sermons today - one was live and at my own church - addressing culture's current fascination with the "undead" and using the book, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as the springboard for the discussion. The Frau thinks our fascination with vampires and zombies and such is just because they are weird and different, but my pastor, Matt Sturtevant caused me to think about the possibility that our interest in these subjects emerges from a need to wrestle with the unknown of eternity. I'm still mulling that over, and will likely revisit the idea in a future post.
The second sermon I watched online - an archived message by Adam Hamilton (Church of the Resurrection) which I highly recommend entitled "The Bible and Sexuality" from his series on Wrestling with the Bible. He addresses a topic I've been "mulling over" for a good many years and has some intriguing insights that are beautifully stated and illustrated. The details he addresses and questions he raises are best for you to view directly as spoken by him - the link is provided above.
I appreciated his acknowledgement from the outset that the issue of homosexuality is one that divides us - as a nation, as communities, churches, and friends and families. He also confessed that it is an issue with which he continues to wrestle. But as a church, they will accept and love everyone, and agree to live "in tension" with one another about their individual interpretation of Scripture.
That Adam continues to "wrestle" with the issue, and that his personal feelings have evolved about interpreting the Bible in the few verses that address homosexual behavior, appears to be directly related to his actually getting to know gay and lesbian individuals. When "homosexuals" become a face and a family, rather than an abstraction and an arbitrary group, I think we all begin to wrestle with our understanding of how Jesus would interact with, and love, this person. We all have to come to a decision about whether these verses should be interpreted in light of the cultural context, or if they are God's overarching literal intent for all eternity.
My own church is extremely welcoming and loving, too. And it is such a great start. But there are a lot of those faces out there who want to be fully affirmed by the congregations where they worship and serve. They feel called as ministers and teachers, they want to stand up with their children when they are baptized in front of the whole church, and they want to be able to make a public and faith based commitment to their spouse before their God and their family of faith. To love us and welcome us but be unable to affirm us at this level is somewhat akin to asking us to sit in the back of the bus, or the church.
I don't mean to sound harsh. It took me a long time to accept and affirm myself, and it started with my accepting and affirming my gay friends. I first had to personify the abstraction. That was my pilgrimage. When I was able to completely and fully love them and believe that God did the same, then I was finally able to love myself enough to admit, not only how God had created me, but how much God continues to love me.
So I say to my friends who just aren't "there," yet. I love you; I know you love me; and I know God loves us both. I want to be that face, that personification for you. And I can live "in tension" with you on the subject for as long as it takes. But do know that sometimes it gets lonely in the back of the bus.