Methodist jury convicts lesbian minister of violating church law (free registration required).
Her name is Beth Stroud. I think you should read her Coming Out Sermon. Before I read that, I said to myself, well, what did she expect? Methodists aren’t Southern Baptists, but they’re not liberal, either. In the South, there is not much difference between Baptists and Methodists. It would seem one major difference is that women can be ordained ministers. I don’t know her congregation, but it surprised me that they were supportive. In the face of so much homophobia, especially in — and it pains me to say this — our churches, I was surprised to find that they backed her after she came out and wanted her to continue in her duties. Down here, she would be lucky not to be run out of town on a rail.
I have read the Bible on homosexuality, and I must admit, I find it ambiguous. I am not going to stand on my soapbox and declare that homosexuality is wrong or that it is a choice. Frankly, I don’t think it is either one, but the truth is, I don’t know. What I do know is that homosexuals are people who deserve the same rights as heterosexuals. They are not disgusting or depraved any more than anyone is. In short, if homosexuality is wrong, then it is one of many “wrongs” committed by men. It always disturbed me that someone close to me — a person in my life who is the most vehemently outspoken and prejudiced against homosexuals — is the very person who has committed adultery more than once.
Jesus said something about those without sin casting the first stone… There was also something about worrying so much about the speck in another’s eye and not seeing the plank in your own…
We are studying Transcendentalism in school. When I was in college, my English 101 professor and I struck up a friendship of sorts. I was interested in a fellow English major, and sometimes I would sit outside in the hallway of the English department, waiting for him to get out of class so we could walk, talk, go on adventures. One day, Dr. Sell crouched down to my level, teetering on her heels. She cocked her head and asked me what I was doing. I told her. That was how we connected. I started visiting her office. She had a ceramic sign in her office that said “Shalom!” I never knew if she was actually Jewish or not. She shared her office with another professor whose name escapes me. We had chats about life and literature. Sometimes love. When it became clear that my crush wasn’t panning out, Dr. Sell tried to set me up with her son, an agriculture major. She didn’t understand him. Why on earth, she wondered, would he want to be a farmer? He scored a 4 on the Regent’s Exam, for crying out loud! Out of respect for her, I decided to humor her. I wrote him a letter of introduction. He came down to visit, but I don’t remember whether it was specifically to meet me or not. We had no connection at all, though we sat in Dr. Sell’s office in awkward quiet, smiled weakly, and tried not to check our watches. Later, when Dr. Sell and I discussed the failed love connection, she confided that he felt I was a bit too much like her. I told I thought it was telling him I was a Transcendentalist that scared him off. She laughed and agreed.
Well, maybe I am a Transcendentalist. At least a bit. I am not sure that we are all connected by some cosmic Over-Soul, but I don’t discount the possibility. However, I do believe God is manifest in Nature, and it is in Nature that I feel His presence. Not in church. The one time I felt most connected to God was on a hike, by myself, in the Colorado Rockies. To me, He is there, in His creation. And, I suppose, if I am to believe that, I should believe He is inside of us, too. We are His creation as well. Is an Over-Soul, then, so far out of the realm of possibility? And if that is so, how do we explain the evil that men do to each other? Is God present inside an evil man? Is he absent in a man who is basically a good, decent person, but happens to be homosexual?
These are questions you have to answer for yourselves, I guess. I don’t have any answers today. The only conclusions I have drawn are that Beth Stroud has very strong faith and experienced a calling to the minstry. On the other hand, her church disagrees with allowing “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” in the clergy.
I’m not Atticus Finch, but where this issue is concerned, I feel like we all need to “walk around in someone else’s skin.” Or maybe we could just stand on the Radley porch, like Scout. Maybe just standing on the porch would be enough.