8.18.2005

I am into the last chapter of Boyd's book (two posts previous, I think). I am still convinced he's onto something. Our "job" is to love others unconditionally, not to judge them. It is in loving them that we invite them into the celebration, the Kingdom and back to the "Garden of Eden", so to speak.

Several years ago I was confronted with a situation in which a man in my congregation was having a sex-change operation. He and his wife were to remain married and, by their own description, consider themselves lesbians. They also intended to join the campaign in our denomination to change the policy/understanding of homosexuality.

My response at the time was to encourage them to worship elsewhere, where thier lifestyle would not be questioned or become divisive. To them this sounded as if I were kicking them out of the church. That was not my intention, but I can certainly see how it felt that way to them. I honestly felt that I had a responsibility to pastor the whole congregation, not just them, and that this was the best option.

I made one attempt to reconcile with them after they left the church, which they misinterpreted and used against me in a letter they wrote to the President of my denomination. My question is, did I do the "right thing" here or not. Was there another way, a better way? And is Boyd suggesting that I should have bucked the current culture(of my church) and simply let the chips fall where they may in terms of accepting this couple without judging them? I think his last chapter will help me on this, but I wanted to wrestle a bit with it here, first.

4 Comments:

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Luke said...

Stacey:

What happens when you love others without judgment who are at very different levels of understanding of themselves, of God, and of what love really is? What do you do with loving someone without judgment who does not love themselves, nor others, and is intent on a course of action that will stir hatred and suppress love in a large group of others? How do you love without judgment those who will be abusive?

I don't know how our current definition of love deals with that. If we model love on God's love for his people, demonstrated throughout the Bible and illuminated in the life of Jesus, then perhaps this isn't the type of love we typically think of. It seems to me that God's love for us resonates with judgment, rebuke, teaching, and restoration...

Clearly, I'm confused.

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger stacey said...

or not... you are hitting the nail on the head, my friend, as is often the case. thanks.

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger theultrarev said...

With God as my witness, and me as your witness — I know with certainty you were not judgemental. But there was no way they were going to hear you unless you said what they wanted to hear. Part of the culture they are in is fueled by a sense of victimhood and since your response to their choice wasn't complete acceptance, their only other choice was to feel victimized. There aren't other categories for them. It's either acceptance or be vitmized.

In my opinion it was fairly loving to look out for their spiritual needs by suggesting they find a church home where they might experience welcome and grace. It was 'shepherd-like' to recognize there was 'danger' for them and suggesting they go elsewhere.

But I do wonder how we could brainstorm other ways to have handled this:
• Certainly you could have rebuked them and told them they were scum sucking slime and going to hell ... not a good option mind you, but you could have tried it. Then you definitely would have made 20/20.
• You might have held a forum at church or given them a moment in the service to share their testimony and epiphany about being transgendered and lesbian. Or created a forum with dualing psychologists giving differing sides of the issue. ... And then had the church vote whether to keep them or not. We are congregational afterall.
• You could have done nothing and just let them come back to church and pretend like nothing was out of the ordinary. CWM could have grown by one.
• You could have told them you love them and the church would love them too, then tried to convince the church to love them. It would have been hard work. You might have lost your job and church members, maybe even friends -- not me tho.
• You could have held a Halloween party and told everyone but them to dress up as ghouls & gobblins so they would fit in. ... Oh man that was cold.

I'll stop now. In the spirit of Fred, I've probably said too much ... as usual.

--------------------------

Sorry to have missed your call last night. I had just came in from an overnight away and was reconnecting with my family. Try me again.

 
At 2:06 PM, Blogger bdrtthnnb said...

Great to hear from you, Stacy. I'll have to find a copy of Boyd's book before entering into this discussion too fully. Have you read Brennan Manning's "The Ragamuffin Gospel?" Another one of those voices that is challanging our religious attitudes.

For myself I seem to be moving ever closer to a stance of GRACE that challenges my preceptions of what living out of love means.

Luke's comments are cogent and sound like my own 'arguments' with my dad many years ago. At the time his deffinition of love was much broader then mine and I've moved toward his over the years. My narrower deffinition which included much of what Luke mentions didn't hold up well under the intensity of life (although I have several 'friends' who have continued to hold to that deffinition of love- i say 'friends' becasue I am now on the outs having fallen into a compromised 'false gospel.' :-))

God is able himself to pull off the whole love and judgment thing. We can't. However, the Scriptures seem to make it clear that there is some standard we are to hold ourselves too. BUT...

Here are a few bullet points to consider:
> The gospel of Jesus Christ is SCANDALOUS
> Although we are called to an ethic of love we are living by, in, through, and out of GRACE. I think much thought must be given to the grace aspect.
> Romans 1 is important to this conversation- the GRACE of God is revealed...the WRATH of God is revealed...
> Rather then clearifying the lines to be drawn as to what is proper, moral and acceptable behavior is it rather our call and purpose to try by the grace of God to lead the disciples into a fuller expression of grace and love. ( I think here of Paul's defense of the Gospel of Grace in Galatians and in his vehemence in doing so making some striking "judgements" about anyone who compromises it up to and including a public rebuke of Peter!)

Grace and peace, brother

 

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