Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another opportunity lost?

Today I had an outstanding meeting with the Associate Dean for Religious Life at USC. We talked all about the different faith groups on campus, which range widely and enjoy a lot of support from the administration. USC is really committed to helping students explore their spiritual sides during their college years. I would venture to say that's a pretty crucial exploration time for many people.

Since J will be a professor, we imagine we'll be around college most of our life. We dream about owning a home where students who are seeking spiritually can live, get direction, participate in daily ritual, and just ask questions.

So I talked with her about doing an internship, and she was really keen on me working with the interfaith council, which is the group of representatives from all the different faith groups. They meet monthly and put on a few events every year that are open to everyone, where they can explain about their faith or perform a ritual or something that gives others a sense of what they believe.

It was so exciting! I would love to work with these students. For one thing, I would learn so much from exposure to all these different faith groups. I would be able to help the Christian students build bridges with the others. I would help put together the interfaith services (how cool is THAT!).

I left so totally high on life. What a great opportunity!!

But then I got back to my office and I checked Fuller's requirements. And I realized that there is probably very little chance that they'll let me do this internship.

Not because it's interfaith. Not because it's at USC.

Because the woman who would supervise me, who has nearly 40 years ministry experience, who has an MDiv and Phd and was one of the first women ever ordained in the Church of England, this woman who has lived a life of faith and even has a degree from Fuller! - BUT, this woman chooses to live in a committed monogamous loving relationship (she was married at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco). She does not repress her love and she does not spread it around inappropriately. She is simply married ... to a woman.

And according to Fuller's Community Standards, that makes her unfit to supervise my internship. This woman cannot teach me how to minister to college students (despite her many years doing so from a place of Christian faith), cannot teach me about Jesus, cannot be trusted with my oh-so-fragile faith, because she's gay.

And I will tell you, people, I am hopping mad. It's so stupid! I could understand if she were another religion, or if she were actually supposed to be my teacher. But she's a Christian - majorly! And she's just supervising my internship!

I have a feeling that Fuller would prefer I be supervised by my boss, an observant Jew, than by a Jesus-loving homosexual. What is UP with that?!?

And now this amazing opportunity - to learn so much about the faith of college students, to soak in cultures from around the world, to interact with and impact potentially hundreds of young people, to learn from them and prepare myself for what could very well be my life's ministry - it just might have to be trashed.

It's all just so imperfect and unfair. I'm so sad. I'm sad for Fuller. I'm sad for those kids. I'm sad for me. I'm sad for our stupid world, especially the Christians.

Why can't someone who sincerely loves Jesus be my mentor?

He who is without sin......................................


Geok Mui said...

Hi i had been reading your blog....btw i think a person who really loves Christ will not choose to be a gay.

Anonymous said...

That is a very sad situation, and one that is all too common. Even if you believe that homosexuality is a sin, all sins are created equal. If you've told a falsehood at any time in your life, and you probably will do so again (knowingly or unknowingly), you are as morally bankrupt as any homosexual. Since we are then all morally bankrupt, we are all on common ground. Of course, I'm sure that whoever's making up these arbitrary rules has pretty much said "Bring it on!" To the whole phrase "Do not judge lest ye be judged." How horrible that because of this cavalier attitude you may have to give up a wonderful opportunity to share, teach and learn.

Geok Mui: As for choosing not to be gay if you really love Christ, that's an immature line of thought. Really, it's about the same as saying "If you really loved me, I mean really loved me, you'd let me have dessert before my dinner. God recognizes our imperfections and loves us in spite of them. God loves us because he made us, biochemistry, genetics, choices and all. Not because we deny who we are, but because we are who we are.

My apologies for the 'blog hijack. I didn't realize that I really had that much to say, until I read the first comment. Thank you for your words--they're inspiration.

MEP said...

That is really frustrating I am sure. Not only because it's an amazing opportunity, but it's frustrating on principle. I just don't understand why people who are supposed to be acting in the name of CHRIST take such pleasure in making exclusionary rules.

Mark Baker-Wright said...

I can't speak for all Christians. I certainly don't take "pleasure" in exclusionary rules. Nor do I think homosexuality is "a choice." However, I simply can't get around the texts that tell me that it's a sin.

As to tina's comments, most of which I agree with, I think "if you've told a falsehood at any time... and you probably will do so again (knowingly or unknowingly)" is too far a stretch. First of all, we're not talking about, say, a person who had ONE homosexual experience, nor are we talking about someone who "unknowingly" commits acts considered to be sinful. While homosexuality itself is not a choice, the decision to marry is. While I think Christians have a LOT to answer for in their inconsistency, (not condemning heterosexual acts outside of marriage as consistenty, for example) I think your statement goes too far.

Feminary, I'm sorry to find myself on a different side of this issue than you. I truly value your opinions and insights, and am sure that this situation must be very frustrating. But I can't find it in myself to criticize Fuller for this one.

Stasi said...


Nobody chooses it, whether they love Christ or not.

Kyle said...

If I could just riff for a while and offer an alternate viewpoint (or several).... The fact that a lot of gay and straight people need to understand choice (or even nurture or environment) as an impossibility for sexual orientation always concerns me in that it suggests a kind of hierarchy in viable lifestyles for people -- that if I could choose of COURSE I'd be straight. Because who'd want to be gay, right? That's just gross.

Sorry to be flip, but I often see it as symptomatic of a kind of self-hatred in gay men, and while I know the intentions aren't negative from those who aren't, such a strong emphasis on this might unintentionally send a mixed message. Discussing it in the language of "sin" and "judgment" only compounds the mixed messages until I feel like gay-friendly Christians are doing rhetorical gymnastics so they can assert their allegiance to the gay community.

I think sexuality is potentially as fluid as my baptismal water (just ask Dr. Kinsey) and while that may all be part of God's plan (and people of God quite reasonably search for spiritual guidance on these issues), the fact is, everyone eventually has to make choices about their lives -- to marry, to have children, to adopt, to stay single, to work in finance, to become a reverend, to stay in the closet, to identify as gay, to be celibate, to be promiscuous, to be monogamous. One might make bad choices without prayer and good choices with it. Or vice versa. A man might pray desperately to not be attracted to men because his church told him it was a sin.

Genetics aren't the only factor in sexual identity -- even if there's a gay gene. Homosexuality isn't just an act or an inclination; it's a social, political, and cultural identity; it has history, richness, and variety. And plenty of people who have same-sex attractions don't relate to any of it, either. God may have set all that in motion, but I can't imagine she'd anticipated I'd be able to sing the WEST SIDE STORY songbook by memory.

Seriously, I can. Try me.