What about Maladapted or Stressed Children of a GLBT Couple?

This weekend, I was discussing this blog with a good friend. He was not in disagreement with my position in this blog, necessarily, that we have a moral and religious obligation to love each of our neighbors, including those of the GLBT community; but he said he was concerned about the impact of GLBT parents upon their children.  I can’t deny that in such relationships it is not likely uncommon that the child would be subjected to derision directed at the parents. I recognize it may be difficult for a child who has called her mother “Mom” to transition to call that same person, “Dad.” I am aware that before doctors will perform necessary operations to accomplish trans-gender purposes, the patient is required to have counseling. I wonder whether their existing children, and those that might join their family later, are included in that counseling process; and, if so, how are they prepared for that transition, what are the techniques, what are the challenges, and what are the success rates?

My friend wonders to what degree would-be transgender persons are counseled to consider the impact of their decision upon their children, both pre-trans and post-trans.  He asks, “If the child is seriously stressed by the transition or the non-traditional relationship of the parents according to “accepted” social conventions, to what degree is an observer of that stress obligated to report physical and mental abuse in a state, such as this, Nebraska,  that has mandatory abuse and neglect reporting statutes?”

Then, as to a father, such as nmyself, who is prevented by physical circumstances from significantly participating in my child’s activities, how is that different? If my child is acting out because of stress relating to his concern for my health, how should the child be helped to deal with that stress – by removal from my home or by help to cope with those special circumstances?  Not to suggest that hermaphroditic persons should be considered sick, which it is not, but only the natural gift of nature, how is their genetically ambivalent inheritance different from my illness which is a challenge for my child to adjust to?

I think my friend has a point that adults have some obligation to consider the impact their choices will have upon their children, present and future, who have no choice in the matter.  I also wonder whose job is it to determine whether GLBT issues as affecting children is abuse or neglect of that child?  It strikes me as an attorney that any child who has special needs, which such children would appear to have, that are not being met for whatever reason, that person likely has a legal and moral obligation to report that to the appropriate authorities, and then allow those authorities, as provided by the law, to make their determination as to the child’s abuse or neglect and, if abuse or neglect, to determine an appropriate disposition.

It strikes me that mere difficulty is no reason, of itself, to prevent an otherwise healthy and advantageous venture. But the effect of that difficulty and effectiveness of means in surmounting it is an issue that would be appropriate for discussion, which I invite.

What about Maladapted or Stressed Children of a GLBT Couple?

Love of God and Neighbor Letter

Today, February 24, 2012, I received an e-mail with the following letter which it reports has been sent to United Methodist delegates of General Conference, 2012.  That e-mail also references a statement entitled “For Love of God and Neighbor: A Common Witness to General Conference 2012, which I have signed and may be found at http://gc12.org/sign/love-of-god-and-neighbor-statement/.

Dear United Methodist Church Leaders:

The General Conference briefings in Tampa, Zimbabwe, and the Philippines provided delegates and church leaders time to explore the vital issues that will be under consideration at General Conference. As disciples of Jesus Christ, together we seek to embody God’s love and justice through The United Methodist Church. With the sometimes surprising leading of the Holy Spirit, we strive to love our neighbors and to embrace our unity in Christ in the midst of diverse opinions.

Whether it is seeking peace and challenging war and violence, sharing leadership with Central Conferences, protecting the lives of immigrants or moving beyond judgment to love toward gay people we raise our hands to God in praise and supplication that we might follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.  So what has God been telling us? Scripture reveals richly abundant human diversity and that God loves our diversity.

  • Peter was told not to deny what God had made holy-the uncircumcised.
  • The Ethiopian eunuch asked whether he could be baptized-God said yes!
  • Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and he defended her right to learn.
  • Paul said there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.
  • The Syrophonecian woman-a foreigner-received healing for her daughter.
  • John 3:16 says that ALL who believe are welcome in the kingdom of God.

When human religious and cultural practices kept people out, Jesus turned the tables, challenged exclusion and called people to live out their core faith values.  The Holy Spirit has been changing hearts and calling us out of the wilderness of judging our neighbors to the gospel call to Love Your Neighbor.

  • It is time to take Genesis seriously and be good stewards of the natural world.
  • It is time to trust the Gospel that teaches us to love our enemies.  War, persecution, violence and bullying are not the answers to our deepest fears.
  • It is time to trust the Holy Spirit who through forty years of dialogue has prepared the church to affirm gay and lesbian disciples as church members and leaders.
  • It is time to trust God who teaches us to love our neighbors, not criminalize immigrants among us who seek to make a living or flee from violence.

John Wesley’s three simple rules for Christian living, now called our “General Rules,” are: Do no harm.  Do good.  Stay in love with God. We know what it is to do good and to stay in love with God but we don’t always know when we are doing harm.  Here are some actions you can consider:

  • You will be receiving more mailings from the Common Witness Coalition as we go into General Conference. Read everything, watch everything, learn everything.
  • Commit to do no harm.  Trust the Gospel.  Trust Jesus. Love God. In light of Jesus’ teachings and Wesley’s wisdom.
  • Sign the statement “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOR” http://gc12.org/sign/love-of-god-and-neighbor-statement/

Sincerely,

The Common Witness Coalition

Love Your Neighbor Logo

·         Reconciling Ministries Network

·         Affirmation: United Methodists

Love of God and Neighbor Letter

Bishop Hagiya Courageously Speaks Out

I am a member of the United Methodist Church.  I have noted in the past that retired bishops of this church have joined in an appeal to the church to lovingly embrace in both our membership and leadership those of us in the GLBT community (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual). I have thought it a shame that no active bishop of the church, to my knowledge, has had the courage to take such a stand, but have waited until retirement.  Bishop Hagiya is an active bishop who has found a way to remain true to his office and at the same time to be true to his Christian faith.

I have understood in part the reluctance of active bishops in that the bishop is sworn to uphold the laws and principles of the church. At one time, I was a county judge. I was sworn to uphold the laws of the state of Nebraska as they were, and not as I wanted them to be. A judge who is not willing to be bound by the law has an obligation to relinquish that post to someone who is willing to be bound by it. Likewise, any United Methodist bishop who is unwilling to be bound by the Methodist Discipline and Principles has an obligation to relinquish that position to someone who is willing to be so bound.

However, a distinction is to be made: nothing prevents a judge from noting that the law, as written, is unjust. But, until the law is changed, the judge is bound by the law as it is, not as it “ought to be.” A judge is not a legislator.

In am reminded of the judge who tried, convicted and sentenced Gandhi in South Africa for sedition.  He professed great admiration for Gandhi and Gandhi’s commitment to Truth;  he expressed regret that under the law he had to sentence Gandhi; and he stated a great desire that the law be changed. However, he noted that he was obligated to apply the law as it was, not as he wished it to be, and he sentenced Gandhi to prison pursuant to the law.

People often misunderstand the method and power of civil disobedience.  The method of ciivil disobediences is not  sly violation of an unjust law, but open violation of the law and acceptance of the consequences.  The power of civil disobedience lies in its open violation of the law so that the people can see the injustice and demand a change in the law consistent with due process.  Gandhi noted that civil disobedience would not have any power over a government that did not respect its people.  It was effective against the laws of the English people because they could see that, as applied, certain of their laws violated their basic principles.

Likewise with active bishops of the United Methodist Church: they are bound by the law of the church as it is, and not as they wish it to be.   But nothing prevents them from seeking to change an unjust law.  Indeed, the office of bishop cannot insulate the person who fills the office from his or her duties as a Christian.

Therefore, I greatly admire Bishop Hagiya not only for his understanding of the distinction between office and personal responsibility, but his courage and integrity to act responsibly in Christian love, consistent with his duties as Bishop of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska United Methodist Conferences.  Here is his letter as I received it by Reconciling United Methodist e mail.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35

I greet you in the very name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Difficult letters, like difficult conversations are never easy. However, God never promised us easy, and there are times when we must take up the cross and walk in faith. I write today not representing the United Methodist Church, for only General Conference can do that. So, even though I write this letter as your Bishop, I hope it will also be received as your friend in Christ.
With the signing by Governor Gregoire of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington as of June 7th, the state joins six others in recognizing this union. Personally, I celebrate the signing into law of the legalization of same-sex marriage for our state. It is an historic moment for the people of this geographic region, and it marks a secular turning point in the liberation of those who have too long been oppressed in our current times. I celebrate with those who will be free to enjoy equal health and security benefits through the state institution of marriage.
I also personally grieve over our United Methodist Church polity that will not recognize same-sex marriage. I believe that it is wrong, and we should work for a more inclusive and humane response. The reason for this stance is that I believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s divine love for the entire creation, and no one should be shut out from God’s embracing Grace. God’s Grace is so pure and encompassing that anything that attempts to limit or control this love must be transformed.
In all humility, I realize that this represents my faith, and even though I must live by what I believe, I am fully aware that equally devout United Methodists have different views. To force my faith onto someone who has a different or opposing view is also to limit God’s divine love. I believe the loving example we must set is to come together for dialogue in mutual respect. Respectful dialogue means that we listen to one another honestly and openly. Dialogue does not mean that each side tries to win the other over with an opposing point of view, but pauses to hear the honest thoughts and feelings of the other side.
I deeply respect those who have different views on this issue, and even though I share my faith perspective here, I do not presume that this must be their truth as well. I believe that all human nature is flawed, and that God holds the only “Truth” with a capital “T”. We humans can only approximate the truth, and no person has a monopoly on it.
Our Pacific Northwest Annual Conference has been deeply divided by this very issue in the past. People have been hurt, self-righteousness has abounded, and lives have been damaged. This is not an embodiment of God’s divine Grace, and I pray that we can respond differently in the future. If we are to truly live by God’s love, then we need to treat each other with the respect of any creature made by God’s hand. All of us have the dignity and self-worth of a child of God.
I am not asking for a tepid and false peacefulness. We will disagree and not see eye-to-eye. I am not looking for an all-encompassing harmony in our present reality, but these great issues that divide us will not go away, and I call on all of us to enter into a civil dialogue that speaks of mutual respect. When such social issues threaten to pull us apart as the Body of Christ, I invite every United Methodist into the art of Holy Conferencing. Our times call upon us to model the love of Jesus Christ through our love for one another.
Even though we will disagree, I believe in my very bones that God is at work in the world, and in our lives. We have been shown a glimpse of God’s spiritual vision: where the wolf and lamb lie together, where water springs from the desert, and where weapons of war will be turned into instruments of life-giving peace.
I hold that vision before you on this day, and I also hold all of you in my prayers. As we continue as the “people of the way” let Christ be our guide and salvation, and let love rule our hearts and minds.
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant Hagiya
Bishop Hagiya Courageously Speaks Out