2009 New Year Greeting!
I don’t usually send New Year Greetings, but certain experiences of this past year struck me that I am now ready to share.
I had some experiences last year that reaffirmed past experiences and beliefs, and that raise issues that presently challenge our churches, our families and our society: that of sexual orientation and our reactions and responses to it. Our associate pastor called me to see if I would be willing to talk to a trans-sexual member of our church who wanted to change the name of his daughter, to whom he had given birth. . . . It was confusing, as you can imagine. I didn’t know the circumstances, but I knew him to be a Christian, a spiritual person, loving, and a member of our Sunday School class. So, I helped him. We have a lesbian or two in our church (“don’t ask, don’t tell).
I remember a good friend in Omaha that taught band in one of the junior high schools. I took piano lessons from Don on Saturday mornings. Often, during the lesson, his boyfriend emerged from the bedroom. I never felt threatened by Don, but genuinely appreciated him as a friend and for his musical talents. I think of how Tchaikovsky tried to be “straight,” married a woman that he hid from in fear, and tried to commit suicide because he felt forced to be someone contrary to his nature. Much beauty was created by that tormented soul. And I think of a boy in elementary school who is quite effeminite in his behaviors. What does his future hold?
I know the subject is divisive and I know many of the arguments on both sides. But they are only arguments that too often obscure real persons who, our Christian belief says, are loved by God. I see in the Old Testament that homosexuality is an abomination, but so is eating shrimp or pork (which I love) and a host of other things; that the homosexual is to be stoned as, also, a recalcitrant son (not good for me to live then); that God commanded his people not to kill but then told them to kill certain others and even to exterminate people that they found already living in “their” Promised Land together with their children and even their livestock (that battle is ongoing and no one seems willing or able to stop it). I note that in places Paul authorizes judgment of homosexuals as well as a number of other people, but that Jesus said not to judge lest we be judged, to love our neighbor, and not to be a stumbling block to those who believe.
I am hopeful that the Christian community and our society, generally, can stop judging people for sexual orientation, which they don’t understand and irrationally fear, and which does not affect them personally. I hope that people, particularly those of the Church who claim Christ’s example, can genuinely appreciate and celebrate our many differences.
Then I think of C.S. Lewis’s book, “Surprised by Joy.” I hope you are surprised by joy this year.