At the risk of becoming a prayer lecher, taking advantage of unsuspecting, innocent blog readers, I do have some things happening in the future for which I would appreciate some intercession.
A week ago on Tuesday I met with the pastoral staff of my church in which I am interning to give my full testimony (which the head pastor has known for a year) and open myself up for questions and wisdom. They were kind and receptive and I was encouraged by the meeting. However, I found out on Saturday that many of them actually had some pressing concerns that needed to be addressed before I did too much more in leadership.
More specifically, I wouldn’t be allowed to lead a co-ed high school Bible study session alone, and I probably wouldn’t get to preach as I was scheduled to do (and the congregation breathes a sigh of relief).
The underlying fears here are that my attractions are inherently sinful, that I’m not doing enough to change them, and that I might be at a greater risk of becoming a sexual predator. So this is all kind of a bummer, and something I was hoping wouldn’t happen. I love this church and have felt very known and loved during this past month.
Strangely enough, I’m not too upset about this development for a few reasons. The first is that these “decisions” are not final, at all. They are the initial reaction to encountering something that has not been publicly dealt with inside of this church, something that is fraught with confusion, misunderstanding, and tension. I am going to be meeting individually with each person, starting today, and working through the questions, hoping it will become clear that I’m not unfit for such kinds of service.
The second reason is that, well, I love these guys. They’ve known me for over a decade and have been a serious part of my Christian development. I’m sad, but not resentful, and I can see that they’re simply trying to be faithful to what they perceive Scripture teaches and protect the kids. Yea, I’m not so happy that I could ever be seen as a threat to children’s ministry (see Welcome to the Family pt. 2), but, I don’t know… if this were happening to someone else at some other church, I’d be angry. But praise God, I think my relationship with these people is preventing feelings that would blast me off the path of humble grace and charity. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to do everything I can to show them how the witness of the Gospel is damaged by reactions like this, but the witness of the Gospel would also be damaged if I responded in anything less than a kind (but firm!) openness and vulnerability.
And lastly, if everything gets shot to heck, I’m only here for another month before I head off to spend the next eight months abroad (i.e. living in Africa, not in drag) and then move to another city.
I’m fairly positive, almost recklessly optimistic, that everything will turn out totally fine. The head pastor has been going to bat for me and has a good, though recently developed, grasp on the nature of things and was also saddened by the news of the staff’s response. And these aren’t unreasonable, hate-filled people. Not. At. All. I have been in awe this summer at the quality of their faith. I truly believe these conversations will prove helpful for all of us and that I’ll be allowed to do all the things about which they have apprehensions.
That’s all. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.