I have called myself a recovering Catholic for over thirty years, before it became a catch phrase. I am many things,among them, a lesbian, happily celebrating 18 years with my beloved life partner. Raised in a strict Sicilian home, I was not allowed to date all through high school. When I started college, I started dating, but never clicked with any of the men. When it became clear to my mother that I was having a number of one-time only dates with guys, she pulled me aside and said, "Camille, he doesn't have to be Sicilian - as long as he's Italian." A few years went by and she pulled me aside again, "...so he doesn't have to be Italian, as long as he's Catholic." A few more years...through gritted teeth, an eye twitch and thinning hair from worry that I might never marry, my mother said, "...Jewish boys make good husbands." Then it was "...as long as he's white." And finally.... "as long as it's a man!" So just for fun, on my 35th birthday I brought home a black, Cuban, Jewish woman. My mother clutched her chest and said, "Oh, my God, she's all of them!" I jest, but only a little. Feeling a need for spiritual community, I have explored a number of different churches throughout my life. For a time I even considered becoming a minister with my own church because I am a speaker who is passionate about delivering a message that is both enlightening and entertaining. As a child, sitting in church, I would imagine myself giving the same sermon, but with a decidedly more dynamic spin. It seemed that a third of the congregation were bored, some were asleep, and the rest merely sheep. I become aware of Lillian Daniel via a television program I saw yesterday - Spiritual but not Regigious. I just ordered her book and am eager to read it. Wish her/your church were here in South Florida! Brava, Rev. Daniel, Brava!
"Theologically progressive church .... worship services tend to lack passion, energy, quality & focus." Is that what people want? "Quality" doesn't really fit in there, but anyway... Some people might want worship services that invite calm, quiet reflection. Simple, nonenergetic forms, movements that don't draw attention to the process itself but position the attendee to concentrate on the message. "High production values"?? Should that be a metric for amateur church musicians...
I appreciate the book review, Lillian - I shall read it! I also appreciate your quandary. I'm gay & married, and both my husband and I come from Evangelical (even Pentecostal!) backgrounds. We've experienced everything you've heard from everyone else, tried the ex-gay thing, did our dead-level best to be straight, finally left the church and came out, and now continue to experience plenty of rejection and anger from the more conservative members of the church. But, thankfully, like Lee, we understand where many of these fear-driven evangelicals are coming from. And so, most of the time we have grace for their hurtful and silly behaviour. And we've been surprised by how many from the evangelical world have been celebrating our gay marriage (We're in Canada, so it's all nice and legal). It's an interesting time for the evangelicals right now. Many on the inside aren't drinking the "gay is evil" kool aid anymore. Anyway, finally to my point: Perhaps you weren't seriously asking, but I want to say this anyway - the reason we've hesitated becoming involved in a theologically progressive church is we find the worship services tend to lack passion, energy, quality & focus. I don't understand why liberal churches, with a wonderful embracing message of God's love, goodness, kindness, acceptance, aren't more enthusiastic about it. The music tends to be dull. Usually there's a decent organist, but attempts at contemporary are typically not well done. See, the Pentecostals have invested. They KNOW how to make church be a quality experience. (It helps to have the ever-present threat of hell as a motivator, I suppose... Adds to the drama and the budgets nicely.) Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate elements of traditional form and liturgy, but I admit, I miss the well-done production of those theologically-stunted yet musically-forward days... So my quandary is this: Why do liberal churches have nice-but-dull services that over-protect stuffy form; whereas the theologically conservative ones have much more freedom from form? Maybe your church is different. Maybe the music is fantastic, the production values are high, the speaking is great and people love their worship experience there. And if that's the case, I'm coming to Chicago to see how you do it.
I find it interesting which sins people worry the most that other people are "feeling good about." They often are the so-called sexual sins, and the "sinners" get portrayed as having more fun than a barrel of monkeys. But if you read Justin Lee's book, he makes the point over and over again that his sexuality was not a choice and nor was it much fun coming out. And as for those who “came alongside him in prayer” while simultaneously telling him he was displeasing to God, they come off like the people Jesus argued the most with. I wonder how many people who insist that everyone read the very few Bible passages on homosexuality, would also demand that we read the hundreds of passages on personal wealth. Do they approach every first time property owner at a real estate closing with the demand that they read Jesus' instruction that we give it all away? While Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, he said a great deal about those who cast judgment in God’s name. We all interpret scripture all the time. We make choices about how to apply those words to our lives, whether it's about eating shellfish or homosexuality. The people Jesus and Paul spoke to had similar struggles, with circumcision and table fellowship. They were trying to be faithful as they worked with ancient texts in a changing world.
What do you call a person who is having sex out of his marriage. Adultery right. Thousands of years, it is still adultery, the adulterer would like to change the name to make it sound more fun but we still call it adultery. Homosexuals are homosexuals, gay refers to a happy person, you may try to cover up the perversion by calling it gay, but before God it is sin. When you call yourself a Christian, you are saying you are a Christ Follower, & if you are a Christ follower, you no longer living for the perversions of the flesh, but your are being transform by the Spirit of God. Read Roman chapter 6, 7 & 8. As a christian, I am not here to help you feel good about your sin, what ever it may be, but to make you aware how it displeases God and to come alongside you in prayer and to demonstrate Gods Love. Gay sounds better then Homosexual and in your video you used homosexual most of the time, why?
Elisaul Rodriguez commented: "It seems to me that the analogy of the victim of domestic violence applies to many Christian gays. Many victims of domestic violence claim to “love” their abusers." I don't think the analogy works. First, no one should stay in an abusive relationship, with a person or with a church. But churches are not individuals. And churches are not monoliths. They are complex diverse communities filled with people of different points of view. We are always shaping and changing each other in community, for better or worse. Many people have reformed churches by staying in them. Others have changed them by breaking away and forming or joining new ones. But when Elisaul Rodriguez writes to me about "your God," what follows is not anything that I recognize from my own church experience, or from anything I wrote, but rather a caricature. I can't speak for every church member, but speaking for myself, if there's anything I cling to in church, it's the people, not the religion. Community matters. And sometimes, it's worth fighting for. Reformers are not victims.
Elisaul, Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your observations. I fully appreciate your decision to walk away and your observation of many Christians and the church in general. Our opinions might be different, but I respect yours and actually agree with some of them. We have indeed made the faith irrelevant in part. But I don't want to paint everyone with the same brush. There are different reasons for staying and everyone's situation is different. I do want to point out the faith I hold on to is not a result of disfunction. I, like you, walked away. I was angry and hurt and fed-up. I am not making those assuming these were your reasons as well - those were my experiences alone. When I came back, over a decade later, it was with a different understanding and a faith in Jesus, not the religion that bears his name, that drew me back in. If you would be interested in talking further, I would love to hear your experience and actually talk about the possibility of you writing a blog post about your thoughts for us. Interested? email@example.com
Im no longer a believer in Christianity and theism in general; nor I hold any longer any sentimentalism about my lost of faith in that. But I want to make an observation. It seems to me that the analogy of the victim of domestic violence applies to many Christian gays. Many victims of domestic violence claim to "love" their abusers. Many stick to it while telling themselves that in the future it will be different... other just fear change... fear having nowhere else to go. Many blame themselves for the abuse they receive (it's my fault 'cuz I didnt do this the way he wanted me to do it). It's an abusive relationship. Yet, I see the same in Christianity's in general. Your god tells us that we are "nothing" without him (her?), he (she?) threatens us if we intend to leave him (her?), he (she?) tells us that we dont deserve his (her?) love, he (she?) tells us "you are never going to find someone as good as me", "You are a terrible person and you can only be better if you are with me"... I see that you've realized that you are a minority in Christianity... that you dont have 2,000 years of Christian history on your side... Why you guys still want to cling to that religion? Why you want to pay lip-service to that religion?
This is your statement "I can’t speak for every church member, but speaking for myself, if there’s anything I cling to in church, it’s the people, not the religion. Community matters. And sometimes, it’s worth fighting for." I believe that God brings a community of christians together to worship God, and to help one another in their christian walk. Although you were half correct, about not clinging religion, because religious people put Jesus on the Cross. What we should always cling to is Christ Jesus, He dead to reestablish a relationship with God the Father, so we may come to learn about our heavenly Fathers unconditional Love for us. People we fail us, but our Heavenly Father does not know the meaning of failure. God wishes for everyone to have a intimate relationship with Him, through prayer and the Bible. In may prayers, I ask God to teach me to have a better relationship with Him, my Heavenly Father Who Loves me with an Unconditional Love. firstname.lastname@example.org