Dear Rich (pastor of a Presbyterian Church),
         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,
 
 
Thanks to Ashley, see this heart-breaking, heart-warming story about a true understanding of love, hope, and family at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/nyregion/24towns.html?_r=1&hp
 
 
  Timely and deeply provocative for those who are questioning the church’s stance on homosexuality or the right to marry issue, this memoir lays raw the lives of two women who speak from the heart to share their journey as married mid-aged women who inexplicably fall in love.   Challenged by their own homophobia and inner chaos, traditional religious views, immense professional responsibilities with now questionable job security, and an increasingly complex and painful entanglement of relationships with their confused husbands and eight children, they describe the struggles in their loving monogamous relationship through a period of thirty years. 

All of the family members, thrust into spiritual chaos and the realities of varying degrees of familial and societal marginalization related to the lesbian commitment, struggle to forge their individual way through constant issues with peers, friends, neighbors and each other.  The children’s struggles with Mom and other Mom are most vividly described and it is clear that in these times when making good choices is a common paradigm, almost no one involved knows what those are. 

Bonnie and Jane anchor their struggle by turning to God for prayer and guidance, offering love to all who will receive it, praying for peace for those who won’t, and at times bankrupting themselves of energy to continue.  Readers cannot help but be impressed by their eloquence and honesty, their alert understanding and empathy for others during the brutally occurring issues, their exceptional professional contributions toward the health and welfare of others and the tender love story which drives the drama.  The issues become clear.  The resolutions challenge us all. 

 
 
We thought our book would be helpful to women, and what a sweet surprise to be hearing about it from men. An early-thirties man writes,"I wanted to convey my sincere thanks to both of you for sharing such a powerful and beautifully-written story. I was struck by many things about your book, but more than anything else, I was truly overwhelmed by the strength of your relationship and your unusually deep understanding of the love you share for one another.  The circumstances surrounding the genesis and formative years of your relationship were obviously an amazing catalyst for increased understanding and deeper appreciation between the two of you.  Yours is such a wonderful example of how adversity makes one stronger in their beliefs. I can't thank you enough for sharing your story.  I was deeply moved and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with (my own) important emotions.  The two of you are a profound example of the shaping power of a love story."

And a mid-aged male wrote,
"You and No Other is a splendid book, unique in its approach from what I've seen, and particularly valuable because of that.  By unique, I mean that it combines intense intimacy with clinical thoroughness, all within a general approach of compassion and courageous self-examination.  A young person reading this book can almost immediately identify with the emotional and thought processes you've recorded and the stages you went through and realize what he or she is feeling can be normal and healthy, no matter what people may be saying, even if those people are very close when the young person starts his or her voyage on these difficult seas.  No doubt it took a lot of energy and guts to get this story this right- very impressive indeed."