What was someone thinking of??

Do you ever see news stories that make you wonder, “What was someone thinking of??” Or sometimes, even, “Was anyone thinking at all??”

Let me say first off that I think the idea of field trips for individuals in mental institutions has some real value in helping folks begin to feel comfortable moving back into the “real” world.

However…how on earth anyone ever thought that taking a mentally ill killer on a field trip–to a county fair of all places!–was a good idea boggles my mind. Especially when the nurses who were caring for him protested that he was unstable and that they thought that the field trip was not a good idea.  And then…after he ditched his chaperones, why did it take 2 hours before 911 was called??

I’m just glad that this particular situation ended without anyone being hurt–and trust that those in charge have learned a few things, i.e.:

  • It’s a good idea to think if a decision you make would please you and your family if you weren’t the one making the decision.
  • Listen to the folks who are closest to the situation if there’s any question about whether something is a good idea or not.
  • If something goes wrong, act quickly to start getting it fixed.

“For the Bible tells me so…”

I watched the movie by this title last night. It was quite a powerful experience–there were times when I thought I was going to have to go get a kleenex…as well as times when I chuckled…and time when I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

It’s a film that tells the stories of 5 families and their journeys as they learn to live with homosexuality as it impacts them. It doesn’t seek to convert anyone to a specific point of view. Rather, it seeks to help us see “the other” as a human being who struggles with who they are and whom we are called to see as brother and sister.

The stories aren’t easy. There aren’t always happy endings. But are they real? Oh yes!

Part of the film involves discussion with theologians concerning the passages that are so often used to make homosexuals somehow “less than” those who are heterosexual. They stressed the importance of reading in context–of knowing the customs and traditions of the time the scriptures were written…

There are almost 2000 years of biblical study and scholarship that we can draw on–but we have tended to pull out the literalism of only the last 100 years. The film points out that the question, “What does the Bible really say?” does not have easy answers–and that we all pick and choose the portions we take literally.

I love shrimp…I often wear clothes of mixed fibers…I had a cheeky son who is still alive…I buy produce that was grown in fields of mixed crops…I put my money in banks that gives interest–and I sometimes make loans and charge interest… All of these are part of the same chapter that is used to condemn homosexuals–but I don’t have people condemning me or suggesting that I be stoned to death because I don’t obey them (at least not in this country–yet…).

When will we learn that what the Bible tells me is that God loves all of God’s creation? And that if I truly want to be a follower of the Christ, he challenged–and continues to challenge me–to live up to this standard (quoted from Matthew 22:35-40 in The Message version of the Bible):

When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Acceptance

My faith tradition is struggling with a number of issues currently. One of them–that is (and has the potential of being even more) one of the most divisive has to do with issues of sexuality.

I’d like to think that it deals with all issues of sexuality, but in reality, it deals with those who are members of the GLBT community. And the question really boils down to whether they are–or can be–full members of the community…whether our words about “the worth of all people” really mean anything.

For many years, we’ve said that we value all people–that all are called, according to the gifts of God to them. And in the past, there were individuals who were members of the GLBT community who did function–and functioned very effectively!–as ministers. We really didn’t worry about what went on in people’s bedrooms.

But unfortunately we are not just part of a faith community. We are also part of the broader community and have in many ways been informed and impacted by what has been taking place there–where homosexuality (in particular) has become a bogey-man and those who are GLBT have somehow been determined to somehow be threats to those of us who are straight and to our marriages.

I have yet to figure out how! If my marriage is solid, why should it be threatened by someone else who happens to be in love with someone of the same gender? A far bigger threat to heterosexual marriage, from my perspective, lies in the “serial monogamy” that is practiced by so many heterosexuals!

But back to the issue of their acceptance in my faith community… We believe our ministers are called by God. Yes, humanity is a part of that calling, but ff we really believe that those who call individuals to ministry are responding to what they sense as God’s call, then who are we to tell God, “Oops, you made a mistake! You should never have called that person because they’re gay. Didn’t you know that?!?”

And who am I to tell someone else that they cannot have a sacramental blessing of the monogamous relationship they have developed with someone else in the same way I have with my spouse–just because it happens to be someone of the same gender? Granted, I don’t understand that attraction, but I have heard far too many people I care for talk about their knowledge from early childhood that somehow they were different because they were never attracted to someone of the opposite gender to come to the conclusion that somehow homosexuality is a choice. And if it’s not a choice, then how can I–or my faith community–refuse them sacramental blessings? or the opportunity to bring ministry in response to God’s calling?

The body of Christ is blessed with people of many backgrounds, gifts, skills–and we need all of them. All of them. To parrot words of acceptance and worth of all–and yet push some of God’s beloved children to the margins–just doesn’t work for me…

I don’t know what the answer is. I just know that somehow we need to make our words and actions match.