“Nonetheless, this church has committed itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize and support lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships and to hold the partners publicly accountable for the relationship.” –Vision and Expectations for Ordained Ministers
I’ve thought long at hard about what to write for this entry. The pragmatic side of me realizes that statements such as the above quote were part of a grand compromise that has allowed me to be an openly gay, married man in seminary today. However, allowing for the option of some members of the church to openly be unsupportive of my marriage seems to encourage behavior that falls short of our baptismal call as members of the Body of Christ and our mission as “church together”.
As a seminarian hoping to one day serve the people of God in a congregation, there is a special stress that is added to candidates who must sit with the knowledge that the whole church does not support or recognize their call to the ordained ministry. Time and again, at every interaction with my synodical call committee, members of the committee feel the need to remind me of this provision. Unsolicited words of advice from straight members of the committee concerning different ways that I might be patient and understanding of those who “just aren’t there yet” on the issue abound. This advice mostly involves me passively accepting other’s right to question the validity of my call and to view my marriage as inherently sinful. This advice often starts with “You know, some people believe/think…” followed by a homophobic and bigoted statement. As if the notion that “some people” do not believe I am entitled to equal dignity and rights is will be an epiphany of some kind for a guy who just won the right to marry his partner of 8 years. These interactions tend to make a candidate to ministry feel more like an obstacle or an “issue” with which to be dealt. Someone for whom the church has committed itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so, as if this path is uncertain, mysterious, and apart from what shall be considered the norm. As if the path is any different than the way of the Gospels.