Homosexuality – The Litmus Test

Posted by on Thursday, Jan 15, 2015 in Blog | 3 comments

It seems every generation of faith has a litmus test – You know, that “thing” that determines whether a person is orthodox or heretic, safe or dangerous. What do you think today’s litmus test is? Women’s roles? Abortion? Or perhaps homosexuality? Recently I’ve been talking with others about the battle ensuing within our faith communities on homosexuality. We hear the battle lines drawn, don’t we? “More Truth!” “More Love!” Both sides have become leery of publically sharing their views. (Orthodox or heretic? Safe or dangerous?) Christianity has always had it’s battles; Arianism vs. Athanasius, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Reformation, Catholic vs. Protestants, etc. Must I go on? The battle lines on homosexuality in America may not look as dark as the Inquisition but deep wounds still abound. People are ostracized, there’s name-calling, fear, fractured relationships, suffering … I think, as a female preacher, I’m particularly sensitive to how we disagree with one another. On some small scale I have experienced fractured relationships over divisive issues such as the role of women in the Church. It grieves me. I think it grieves many of you too. We’ve got to find ways to have this dialogue without deeply harming each other. I believe being embodied, incarnate; present in the flesh plays a huge role in accomplishing that. Over and over again I hear stories of people who greatly opposed homosexuality – until their child “came out.” Suddenly there relationship with this loved one forces them to back to re-evaluate their theology – their love- their praxis. Incarnationality keeps us from staying distant and objectifying others, especially those with whom we disagree. Frost, in his book Incarnate correctly states, “Objectification creates distance, separating us from the person and their ideas. It allows us to discuss them and use extensions of the metaphoric world to scrutinize them objectively. It also always us to distance ourselves from culpable actions or unfair caricatures. Such objectification depersonalizes them and almost always leads to discounting, downplaying, victimization and bullying. “(Frost, Incarnate 21.) This past week we hosted a salon on homosexuality. I was nervous because I knew there would be homosexual Christians and church leaders in the room. Christians with opposing views – wounded Christians – can’t you hear the whispers “more truth” “more love.” Instead of a war being wage what ensued was a beautiful evening of truth, dignity and compassion. I sat back and watched people leaned in. They desired to listen and learn – to speak their pain but not so much so that it shut down the conversation. Here’s what one woman emailed about her experience. What was so eye and ear opening for me was that most people at this study...

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Some Books Are Worth Reading

Posted by on Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

When I served as a pastor in a large church, I was confronted (as were the others on the pastoral staff) with questions like: “Can I take communion?” “Can we become members?” “Can we serve in a ministry here?” Gay and lesbian couples were asking, “Are we welcome here?” I didn’t have an answer. Of course they could attend but I wasn’t sure if they could “participate,” and if so, in what capacity. Our church didn’t have any policies on homosexuality – per se. I guess we just naturally aligned with the traditional evangelical position which was homosexuality was a sin. But now the issue was knocking on our door – some cultural and some very personal knocks – which forced us to examine our position. It wasn’t just us. I’m aware of other churches in the metroplex grappling with this issue. They, too, are examining and reexamining. The discussion is on – it’s happening within the inner circles of our church leadership. And for the first time – at least in my short recall of 20 years in Dallas – Dallas Theological Seminary addressed the issue at the “Jerusalem Meets Vegas” conference. I was pleased to hear Dr. Yarhouse, an expert in the field, speak, but I was disappointed that at such a fine institution of higher learning there wasn’t another scholar of equal weight, such as Dr. J Pearson, presenting another side of the evangelical debate. Is it fear that keeps us withholding knowledge? Personally, I believe it’s healthy for the Church to examine and reexamine her interpretations and theological positions. Time and culture force us to ask again, “Is that true?” We had to do it with Galileo, and again with slavery, and again with the issue of women. The Marcella Project started hosting a salon on homosexuality. A “salon” is a gathering of people discussing a specific spiritual issue that impacts our lives. The object of the salon is not so much to give you a conclusion, but rather to become informed about both sides of the evangelical argument (with Scripture, history and culture all in view) in order to learn how to make theological decisions that impact our faith practices. I’m continuing to read as much as possible on the subject. I want to understand the theological and exegetic arguments, but more than that, I want to learn to love well in the middle of it. I think that’s the angst many of us are experiencing. How do we love well? What if we don’t land at the same conclusion as our gay son or lesbian daughter? What if we can’t say, “It’s okay” to our gay father or lesbian sister? This is the...

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Young, Single & Her Faith Part 2

Posted by on Thursday, Oct 2, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

I’ve been wondering what’s on young single women’s minds when it came to issues like  marriage, work, gender issues, homosexuality, politics and their future dreams. I asked Stacey, a young professional (Christian) woman living in Dallas to write a few blogs to help us know what’s on women’s minds. Here’s what’s on her mind. (Part 1).  From pre-K through twelfth grade I attended private school. The majority of my time was spent at a small Church of Christ school. My graduating class had approximately eighty students. This was the right size to know nearly everything about everybody, and yet not have to be friends with all out of necessity. With this fertile soil and a perfectionist streak, I was an excellent legalist growing up. How sad it is to say I was voted “Most Christ-Like” my senior year! Since then I have encountered the life shattering, tour de force called grace. At times I wonder if some of my evangelical friends/acquaintances have felt the whirlwind of grace at all. Or it could be that my pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, as others have implied. Regardless, I’d rather spend my free time with non-believers. In my small sample size, I have found them on the whole to be very graceful, forgiving, and kind. It’s puzzling and disheartening to see my non-believer friends exude these qualities in greater quantities than far too many of my evangelical friends/acquaintances. Also, I treasure how open-minded my non-believing friends are. The term “open-minded” can easily spring defense walls among evangelicals. This should not be the case. An open-mind does not mean standing for nothing and falling for everything. It is a desire to find truth and confidence in your belief system. Other ideas don’t ruffle your feathers, but instead, deepen your faith. In addition, every time my faith has been challenged, I have come out stronger for it. Though it can be terrifying to examine your worldview – in essence the bedrock of your life – it is critical to know what you believe and why you believe it. Before I digress any further, let me share a few examples heard often among my evangelical friends and the at large community. In no particular order: (1) treating the Republican Party as if it is God’s political party; (2) claiming to be antiabortion while actually having the appearance of being probirth; (3) holding antiquated views of rape culture; (4) the entire homosexuality issue. We shall save immigration for another day. Just because the Republican Party is more conservative and seems to attract more Christians does not make it “God’s party”. God is much bigger than a political party. Moreover, this is extremely...

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Sometimes God Exposes Too Much

Posted by on Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Sometimes God exposes me to so many things all at once that I feel like my head is going to explode. Ever happen to you? Yesterday  lunch – I sat at a 4Word luncheon and listened to Dianne Paddison share statistics like: 71 % of women with children under 18 are working outside the home. 27% of professional women are leaving church, feeling underutilized and isolated. It made me wonder how I’ve been doing in communicating Jesus’ teachings to these women. Last night’s dinner – I sat with a straight woman and two openly gay men. I think the guys felt like they had caught the mother load. An evangelical preacher woman sitting across from them sharing a bottle of wine and eating Greek food. They asked me questions like: What do you think about hell? How do you know for sure Jesus is the way? And they shared some experiences they had with evangelical Christians. It wasn’t pretty. I left grateful for their gracious reception. I appreciated their sincere questions. I went home with my own. Once again my head was racing over what the Scripture says or doesn’t say – the implications … My heart aches and my mind hurts. This morning – I spoke with a woman in D.C. who is addressing the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case on contraception. Politics is beyond me but as I listened I realized evangelical women need to have a voice in issues such as this.  Tomorrow’s lunch – I speak at the Genesis Women’s Shelter. The title of my talk – “Eradicating the Holy Hush.” It’s about equipping women to have conversations in their own churches about the issue of domestic violence. Did you know: 1 in 4 women in the US will be impacted by domestic violence in her lifetime? When I hear statistics like that I try to close my eyes to see the ones I’ve preached to over the years. I imagine the 3000 attendees sitting in the pews on a typical Sunday morning. Then I see 1 out of 4 women slowly stand up. I scan the crowd again – there’s too many standing. An effective preacher knows two things – the Word and the world, specifically the world of those who sit in the pews of their church on Sunday morning. And I’m wondering how I did. How did I bring Jesus’ teachings to this specific audience standing? The 1 in 4. I’m not sure I did very well. My heart aches and my mind hurts.  Sometimes God exposes too much. It makes my head explode. Jesus do something!...

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Quiet Grief

Posted by on Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

I’ve been quiet because I’m grieving. Grieving over what the Scripture says about community and how we, the Church, fail so miserably. This past Sunday I attended a baby dedication. It was the dedication of the pastor’s son. As I listened and attuned my heart I realized we, the church, aren’t honest. We, the congregation, make statements (committments before Christ) as to how we will undergird and support the parents as well as the child. It’s hog wash. Oh we do it to some extent. But when crisis hits, well actually we show up when crisis hits but what about when family conflict happens? My kids were pastor’s kids. I’m grieving for them because when conflict happened the family fled. My mother’s heart grieves. I’m grieving over what the Scripture says about love, unity, mercy and grace and how we, as a family,  fail so miserably. World Vision. Need I say more. Pete Briscoe, in his Sunday sermon said we’ve used our computers to feel free to bring evil to our brothers and sisters. Oh, how true that is. Yesterday Steve was with the pain stricken Rick Stearns, President of World Vision, and again I am reminded of how vicious the church can be towards its own. As a sister in Christ I’m grieving. I hope I never become so insensitive that I can’t grieve. Jesus wept. I am weeping. I’m grateful for the Lenten season. I need a time to mourn sin. Mine. Yours. Theirs. And ours – the Church. Oh Church, I believe in you. I love you. But oh – how I grieve over us.  ...

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