7 My Response to Joann

Joann,

I appreciate your thoughtful reply.  I have had replies from two different
poles, as you might expect of this family.

Let me understand your position.  Are you saying that Julian’s
trans-sexual identity and physical alteration of the “conflicting
parts” is sinful by Biblical teachings, but we are not to allow that
judgment to separate him from our Christian community, only from
leadership in the community?

What I have come to believe is that, first, I know of no Biblical prohibition
against the hermaphrodite – they just are.  No can argue about the
reality of those mixed sexual components in one body.  No one today, with
genetic information not available in Bible times, can argue that Julian’s
mixed genetic coding (XXY), evidenced by more subtle conflicting physical
features, is a reality.  The physical manifestations of that are more
subtle than those in the mosaic hermaphrodite.  We know that there are
some influences of prenatal hormonal activity associated with homosexuality,
but there is disagreement on whether it is an influence, as a weakness like a
predisposition for alcoholism, which can be controlled, or whether it is a more
fundamental reality to the existence and orientation of that individual which
might be manipulated, but not controlled – it is who they are and to be whole
they must be who they find themselves to be.  My position is

>  that we are not in a position to judge such issues for another
person, but only for ourselves.

I know that Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother about the pressure of society to
deny his homosexuality, which he described as forced to act against his
nature.  I know he married to attempt to conform to expectations with
disastrous results, and his death was the result of his attempt to kill himself
by immersing himself in a Russian rive during the winter.  It is
inconceivable to me that such drastic actions were the result of a choice to be
different.

I hear from some the argument of love the sinner but hate the sin.  Even
that, to me, seems judgmental in that it puts us in a superior position to
decide for another what should be their true orientation and whether they
are sinning or not.

I would be interested in any response you have.  Thanks for responding.

Love, Rob

 

Next blog post: 8 Joanne’s Reply https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/330

7 My Response to Joann

1 Two Discussion Strings Concerning the Bible and GLBT Issues

I have ten siblings. Our father is a retired pastor, and our mother saw her calling as a witness in her home.  Both remain active in their Christian witness and unconditional service. We love each other but we have a wide range of views on the Bible, religion and sexuality as they relate to GLBT key issues.   It is always frank and sometimes it gets a little and dicey; but we are still family, we still love each other and we still communicate at least at some level.

I suspect that as to our disagreements, we are not so different from other families and certainly not so different from the various members of other societies, churches, and religions.  But these differences do not tear apart the “ties which bind us.”    As to siblings who joined these discussions, I will assign randomly a name since their identity is not necessary to these purposes.

There were two series of discussions, the first was initiated by my 2009 New Year  greeting, which I will identify as “First Family Discussion”  and the second began with my  post  on one of my sites in 2012, which I will call, “Second Family Discussion.”   I see these discussions as representative of the larger debate on GLBT issues that remains hot in various denominations, religions, and political arenas and generally in society.

The next several posts will share the various contributions to each discussion.

 

2 New Year’s Greeting of 2009https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/309

1 Two Discussion Strings Concerning the Bible and GLBT Issues

Bob and Betty Dorr’s Story

OUR STORY—BETTY AND BOB DORR, First United Methodist Church, Omaha

In the late 1950s, Betty’s brother was seen in a gay bar while serving in the Army.  He received a dishonorable discharge.  That was when we learned he is gay. Betty’s parents, especially her mother, never wavered in their love for their son.  Betty’s brother remained an important part of our family.  In the mid-1960s, Bob’s brother told us he is gay.  It didn’t matter.  He is loved and accepted in our family.

As we raised our family of three sons, we didn’t bring up the subject of homosexuality with friends because we didn’t want to risk jeopardizing her brother’s public school teaching job.  In 1992, our youngest son Michael came out to us at age 27 while in Omaha to attend his best friend’s wedding. He knew we would still love him because his two uncles were loved and accepted within the family.

Why did he wait so long to tell us he was gay?  He said, “Mom and Dad, I know that you love me, but when I walk out the front door who else will?  My church has told me that they feel it is wrong and so does society.”  Michael excelled in academics both in high school and college.  He rose to senior management at the Chicago-based Leo Burnett advertising agency.  However, his personal life took a bad turn.  He struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse. He was diagnosed with bipolar mental illness.  In 2006 he died at age 41 in his Chicago apartment of cardiac arrhythmia, a heartbeat disruption.

After Michael came out to us, we joined the Omaha chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and for about a dozen years one or the other of us led our local chapter. We also became active in efforts to win equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in theUnited Methodist Church.  Betty testified in the defense of Jimmy Creech at his church trial for conducting a Holy Union commitment service for two lesbians at our church, First United Methodist in Omaha.  Creech was acquitted at that trial. Later he conducted a commitment service for two gay men. He was tried again and lost his ministerial credentials.  Betty served on the national board of Reconciling Ministries Network, which is committed to winning equality for GLBTs in theUnited Methodist Church, and also on the steering committee of the Parents Reconciling Network, a group affiliated with RMN.  She has retired from the board and the steering committee.

Along the way, we have helped many parents understand that their gay son or lesbian daughter still is the same person they always have loved. When we served as grand marshals of the Pride Parade in Omaha, Bob spoke these words for the two of us: “On behalf of all accepting parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children we say this, If your parents for whatever reason don’t love and accept you just as you are, think of us as your parents. We are honored to be your parents.”

Young GLBT people need to know that there are pastors and lay members who care for them and that they can come home to their church.

 

12 Discussion Strings concerning the Bible and GLBT Issueshttps://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/304

Bob and Betty Dorr’s Story

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

Next blog post: Love of God and Neighbor Letter               https://wordpress.com/post/lovejudgenot.wordpress.com/238

Bishop Hagiya Courageously Speaks Out