March 21, 2009
Rev. Bryan Franzen
Head of Staff at First Presbyterian Church Highstown
Read during Fall Presbytery meeting
At the root of this issue before us today is whether or not people who are gay be able to receive and be received fully into the Body of the church? Let us not kid ourselves. Full inclusion for Gay and Lesbian people means that churches would not patronize the individual but reach out to include them in all of its sacraments, ceremonies, ordinances, and offices.
This is where the issue of ordination, and marriage, enter into the dialogue. When we accept GLBT people into the church we must truly accept them as full participants of the Body, not a weak link since they bring their gifts which God has bestowed on them. However I must state that I really do not think that the underlying issue is the sexual acts performed (or perceived to be performed). Rather, it is a power issue.
Through my ministry both here and in Iowa, I have had many discussions with Gay and Lesbian youth and adults. From their stories and struggles I have come to see the importance of working with them in ways that are not patronizing, but real and honest. And I have come to see, it is as unnatural for a homosexual to be in a heterosexual relationships as it would be for a heterosexual in a homosexual relationship.
I believe that the position that many churches currently hold against sexuality has nothing to do with the actions, rather it is a label bestowed by the group in power upon the those who have no power. I believe that this is rooted in our society and learned at an early age. I also have suspicion that the debate has far more to do with differentness than sexual orientation.
Thinking back to the schoolyard, I start my argument with the asexual term “Gay” which is often brought into a child’s vocabulary long before the child has a clue as to the sexual connotation of that word. Often the label Gay was given to the child that did not fit into the mainstream crowd. Also labeled Queer or Fag, the titles given to the child on the playground did not denote a sexual orientation or really have anything to do with sexual acts; they were a mark of separation from the norm of the greater culture.
As a child begins to develop their sexual identity, if they do have natural homosexual tendencies, they are often forced to make a choice of denying the primal understanding of themselves or accept being different from the power community and possibly reap the persecution. Even if they accept their sexual orientation, most of the time their openness within a community has little to do with the act of sex; rather it has to with honest relationship. Unfortunately, the persecution which they receive is based on perceived sexual acts, Also known as the unknown. People have a natural fear of the unknown, but to persecute people for that fear is wrong!
I do believe that the church’s current stance on homosexuality has very little to do with the actual act of homosexuality. It is an issue of power over the powerless!
The real question before us tonight is whether or not Gay and Lesbian people are part of the covenant with God. The answer, looking at the whole of the Bible has to be yes. GLBT people are not singled out nor are they restricted. In fact they are not even discussed outside of orgies and sex worship. As a community they are standing at the doors of our church and I think the ultimate fear of the members of the mainline church is that they may change us, maybe even force us to be honest and re-examine our relationship with God.
As a church we need to accept them and stop letting the fears of this world guide the relationship we have with God.