Tolerance and Christianity

This evening I got a phone call from my mother. She informed me that our much-beloved minister, Reverend Anne, is leaving our (Methodist) church at the end of June. Why?

“It’s because half the church is angry about her because of gays. She thinks that we should get rid of them. I wish people would just take their hatred elsewhere. It’s not Christian.”

You said it, Mom.

My church is in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Rehoboth is known for several things- great beaches, being a family friendly town, and being a “family” (gay) friendly town. The gay community, especially in the summer months, is vibrant. There are two gay newspapers, one of which I am a writer for. Baltimore Avenue is the only place in Delaware where quietgirl and I would even consider holding hands in public.

Back to the church. In the early 80s, we had a minister who was remarkably tolerance towards homosexuality, all things considered. He was our minister for almost 15 years- an extremely long time for a Methodist minister. This is important because he was a fixture- he stayed so long that a lot of the church community couldn’t imagine itself without him.

In his time, he allowed several openly gay people to join the congregation. This caused discontent, but very few people left.

Then he moved, and all at once the trouble started. There were various interm ministers, and there was a small movement to “throw out the gays”. At the time, as a young teen struggling with my sexual orientation… well, it didn’t exactly make me feel loved. Especially since one of the heads of said movement was my great-aunt Misery.

At the same time, however, gay people were beginning to exhibit more and more of a presence in the church. Flash forward several years, and we now have a church where the minister is completely accepting, a great number of the congregation is as well, and many openly gay people are the most active members.

This is the woman who came in and mediated when my family was being ripped apart by my lesbianism. This is the woman who has helped my family, other families, in countless ways.

This is the woman who helped me realize a faith in a God that I had previously turned my back on.

All I can do is sit here, feel bitter, and pray.

I like girls. I’m deeply, powerfully in love with a girl that I can see myself waking up next to every day for the rest of my life. Who are we hurting?

When I was younger I would stay up and pray at night until I literally passed out from exhaustion. Don’t tell me I can change. I tried. I wanted to be straight- I wanted it with every fiber of my being. I denied my feelings, I tried dating boys, I begged and pleaded. Nothing changed.

In my mind, there can be three conclusions. There is no God, God hates me and doesn’t care, or I was made the way I am. Because I believe in God, I cannot accept the first two.

You know what? I’ve read the same verses, heard the arguments, heard the same song on repeat for years now. I can toss around the same cites that any other gay-accepting Christian can. Some people think it’s a sin. Some don’t. Should this be what dictates the goings-on in a house of worship?

And don’t give me “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I can take poison and put it in a crystal vial. That doesn’t change what it is.

I am utterly sick of having to justify my life and my love to thinly veiled bigots. The NT seems to me to be a lot about love. I have yet to find the verse that says "gays are less worthy of God’s love and must be continually harassed by the “righteous” for being who they are.

No wonder Reverend Anne resigned. The church will be worse off without her.

I’m so sorry. That’s really horrible stuff :frowning:

That bit should say “They think that she…”

I too am sorry that the bigots had their way. If it’s worth anything, your home-town is a small jot on a big page. Really, most of the rest of the world, Methodist and otherwise, is more enlightened that this. It might be important to remember that if you can.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the foreshadow of a wider social intolerance generated by Dubya’s election.

Wait wait wait… do you mean that “They think that she thinks we should get rid of them”, or something else? 'Cuz if that’s the case, it sounds like this Minister is leaving because of perpetuating gossip and rumors…

Clarification…?

Oh dont be such a dolt Spoofe.
It is perfectly clear (to me anyway) that the minister is leaving because of the attitude of a growing number of the congregation.

Andygirl, I don’t have the words to comfort you, only to throw in my 2 cents that it sucks.

I spoke with andy when she posted this thread, so I think I can try to clarify. But hopefully she will be along later today to fix any mistake I might make.

I understood the clarification when she made it, but now I am confused again. But what I think she was trying to communicate was that Rev. Anne is accepting of all people in the church but there are those who wish the gays would see the light or leave the church. They wish Rev. Anne would “get rid of” the gays, and since she will not, she is leaving the church in protest.

I think that’s what andy was saying.

[sub]now for my own clarification request[/sub]

London, please tell me you aren’t implying that the bigotry that is prevalent in andy’s hometown (and elsewhere, of course) is an attitude more acceptable now because the Republicans are in the White House? I think we all know the dangers of generalizations. Say it ain’t so, London.

Yes, I realize that the majority of Republicans are less friendly to gay rights issues than the Democrats, but don’t forget it was Bill Clinton, Democrat extraordinaire, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act.

As for the OP, I applaud Rev. Anne for taking a stand, but I am sorry that the next young person who is in need of guidance may not have the same comforting place to go that andy and her family did.

When are we going to learn?

Oh, call off the hounds, Twisty. I asked for a point of clarification, is all. Her second post was a bit confusing.

you can always use this saying to the xtians who try to convert or change you for your beliefs.

“If Jesus loves me the way I am, why are you trying to change me” that usually stops them.

Sorry, andy. That just plain stinks. :frowning:

Is this really the sole issue prompting her departure? It doesn’t make sense to me that she would leave the church, opening the door for a minister who very well might “toss out the gays.” The way it looks to me from this side of the monitor, she seems to be washing her hands of the conflict rather than standing up for what she believes in and trying to further the tolerance she espouses. (That’s not a condemnation BTW. We all have limited capacities and get burned out.) Are there other things going on that contributed to her leaving?

Either way though, it’s really a shame you have to go through this sort of thing. There are a lot of congregations who think church and God should only be for people who are just like themselves. They should look at Jesus’ core congregation sometime.

Under the banner of that insipid little sound bite “love the sin, hate the sinner,” all too many so-called Christians continue to spew their personal hatreds and bigotries to make themselves feel superior. The mantra “God never told us to be tolerant of sin” is nothing more than a thinly-veiled venue for unrighteous judgement and misinterpretation of God’s word.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, Andy, and with Reverand Anne.

andy, sorry your pastor had to deal with such lumpheads. :frowning:

Keep your head up, gal, we’re thinking of and praying for you. It’s hard to lose someone in such a blatently unfair way.

Andygirl, this sucks and I’m sorry. Having seen most of my gay and lesbian friends struggle with religion and church in the context of their homosexuality, I know it’s much harder than I can imagine. Some of these friends tossed off religion entirely, preferring not to believe in a god at all, while others are still trying to reconcile the bigotry of the church they belong to and the teachings they want to follow.

I have a difficult experiance with religion; there was a time when I was simply atheist, although now I’m more agnostic. Although none compare to issues facing homosexuals, I have several problems with the church that have caused me to “stray.” I don’t think there’s any simple solution. I started studying Buddhism and Judaism, and while I can’t see myself converting to either, it did open my eyes to the core laws or tenets that many religions contain, thus giving me insight into what I consider the foundations of religious thought and the screwball ideas and rules that muddy the waters. It helped me a lot (although Father Bob swears that this sort of “inter-Faithism” will really piss God off if I ever get to heaven; I just tell him I don’t believe in the Catholic heaven, which usually shuts him up).

The best thing I can say is that over the years, having been a strict, Latin-Mass Catholic, an agnostic, an atheist, and an agnostic again, the one thing I’ve learned is that faith is unique to every individual. Religions try to make it universal, but if you have it, and it sustains you, than it really doesn’t matter what anyone else in your church says or thinks.

I spoke with andygirl due to the vast moderate wing conspiracy, she is unable to currently post.

However, she wanted to say that Sapphire Bullet’s clarification was exactly what she was aiming for.

Andygirl,

I know it isn’t the right time to point out to you that you should forgive the hatred that these misguided souls claim is the Lord’s. Their sins are their own, and mine are my own, to take before the Lord when I learn my error. Condemnation of each other is just another foolish sin. Forgiving them is hard, but you shall gain the benefit of unloading that anger from your heart.

Hatred has ten thousand soldiers, each one seeking to kill the love that the Lord has sewn in the hearts of His children. Some of them wear priests robes, and some stand on pulpits. They loudly cry out against every sin they see, and since they live their lives in search of sins, they find them everywhere. They have bitterness, and contempt for every soul that they measure against their false image. Try to leave their self-righteous hatred to them. It is the very essence of evil.

They revile you with cries of sinner, and offer you a sin they prefer you to embrace. Hatred is the soul killer. Reject it. Have faith, and be comforted. The Lord knows your heart, entire, and He loves you more than any soul upon the Earth could ever do. No one is your judge but Him. Trust Him. Returning love for the hatred you receive is a great trial. Rely on His strength.

It does not matter who calls themselves a Christian, or what any man says is righteous. The opinions of the lost will not lead you out of desolation. Love is your guide. Faith is your sustenance. Hope is your path. Everything else will pass away, including fools like me.

Be comforted, sister, by the Love of God, given to you. Nothing from anyone on the earth could be its equal.

andygirl, I’m sorry to hear about that.

Take heart, though. You church does sound pretty progressive, and thought there might be some who oppose that, there are others who oppose them.

Think of Reverend Anne’s resignation as a stumbling in the way, but one which will only delay the wider acceptance of homosexuality among your community, not stop it.