I have started this letter in my mind many times and now feel compelled to compose my thoughts and try to convey to you how I feel about the pending vote to be taken by the congregation at the annual meeting Sunday regarding the General Assembly’s (GA) recommendation to allow non-celibate gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as pastors, elders or deacons. I will be out of town on Sunday and unfortunately will be unable to cast my vote.
I know you and Dave (another minister) do not support this recommendation from the GA, and I want you to know why I do. In our family, we have several homosexuals—my son, sister, sister-in-law, cousin, and my sister (also a member of the church) has a gay nephew. All of these people are talented, gifted, intelligent and positive contributors to society. Not one of them chose to be gay, any more than you or I chose to be heterosexual. Being with a person of the opposite sex is as unnatural to them as being with a person of the same sex is to us. When they realize they are different from other people, they go through excruciating agony trying to come to grips with what they pray is not true. They have the highest suicide rate of any other segment of the population. They would never, ever choose to live a life of exclusion, humiliation, rejection or fear---a life where they did not have the freedom to show their love and be able to openly share their life with another. I believe that God does NOT make mistakes. He has a “reason and a purpose for you being there and something he wants to do through you, where you are”.
I believe the churches are making a huge mistake by focusing on this issue. There are things in the Bible that were allowed in those times, but which are not now, and things disallowed that are acceptable now. The sexual mores in our society now are different from biblical times and word meanings have also changed, which makes for ambiguous passages that are open to interpretation. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality but condemned divorce. Yet a divorcee can hold a church office, but a gay person cannot. When congregants pick and choose which parts of the Bible support their argument as to who is or is not a sinner, they are guilty of hypocrisy of the highest order—not to mention making judgments that are not theirs to make. What Jesus did command was that we love one another, and I believe in order to do that, everyone must be treated equally without discrimination of any sort. Gays should be just as eligible to hold church offices as heterosexuals. We cannot love just part of a person and condemn another part. In this day and age of continuous church membership decline, no segment of our population should ever feel unwelcome in the house of God. And homosexuals will never feel like they are part of a church family as long as they are barred from participation in the church’s life. It is estimated that they comprise 15% of the population. They should not be made to feel like second-class citizens unworthy of God’s love.
I love my gay son more than life itself, as I do my other children. It has pained me that he has had to bear this extra burden in his life but I have accepted his reality, as has he. Studies have shown that sexual preference is a heredity factor, not a chosen one. And I have chosen to remain at First Presbyterian Church, despite the church’s position concerning gays, because I love my church family. I can only pray that someday attitudes will change. And I so wish it would be Sunday! It goes without saying, that my sister and I would both cast our votes in favor of the GA recommendation if we could attend. Sincerely,