Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Over it

So today was something of a stressful day. I've been going through some stuff with my hmo, which is never very fun, and I finally really had to take my health into my own hands. I'm glad I did, but people in the health industry have this way of making you feel like you're a bad person because you don't trust them completely. But the fact is, I have rights too - and the ability to do my own research and know when they're asking for something unnecessary - so I just put my foot down. I hope it will work out OK. Pretty soon I will tell you all about it, but I'm not quite ready to make it public yet. Suffice to say, I need to trust myself, that's the main issue. I care far more about my health than they do.

But on another note, the reason I'm writing, is because I had to share something from class today. We had a session about women preaching, and it was - as it always is - shocking to realize how backwards most of these peoples' churches still are. They are still beating this horse, which in my mind is quite dead. I did my best to assure them that in fact some churches are way beyond this - that our seminaries have more women than men and I've never not been under a woman priest, and in fact have been under some pretty damn powerful ones. I feel like I'm kind of the next generation, the generation that doesn't have to worry about this (although I realize of course that there are plenty of places that it's still an issue, and I think I've even faced some trouble b/c of my gender) - at least not on the meta-scale. These women go to churches where they are accepted as preachers but the overall denomination or charter of the church forbids them from leadership positions, board votes, what have you. It's so dumb.

But ah, here's the rub. So one guy asked the women preachers if they think that their acceptance has "gotten better" (he coming from a church that does not allow women to preach), and one of the women right away started off into this sort of speech: "I get nervous when people start defending women's rights to preach, because it can tend to be a catch-all for all kinds of 'other people' being defended to preach..." (then as if we didn't get her meaning) "I mean, the argument is made that then people of certain sexual orientation..." and she kind of trailed off. I said, under my breath (sort of), "well, it follows." And she was like, "What?" And I said nothing. Because I didn't want to get into it with them.

But frankly I realized at that moment, as everyone was nodding in that silent approval of her implied meaning, that subsurface agreement we're all supposed to share that nobody needs to announce (and doing so would make us seem hateful, anyway)...I realized that I can't do it anymore. I can't deal with it, just like I can't deal with the backwardness of not letting women preach. If you let women preach, you have to let gay people be ordained. The case against women preaching is far stronger, biblically. Of course it's hard for her to talk about this issue. Besides the self-loathing that was coming from her speech, I also sensed that she understands the logic of the position she fundamentally cannot accept. And that's the interesting and horrible thing. People just can't get over this. They are so trained, so ingrained against gay people, that they can't accept their ministry, no matter how obviously called they are, no matter how much they will claim to love them. If you love them, you let them love as they were created to love, and you let them serve God as God calls them. If you don't, then you haven't really accepted them. Period.

So I'm over it. I'm over the dancing around the issue, over the nodding in wearied Evangelical agreement/guilt over this. I don't care how stupid it sounds: I want to be in a room of people where the unwritten rule is that all persons are loved, accepted, and able to minister as they are. I am ready to be at a place where if somebody tried the kind of language I heard today they'd be ostracized, not congratulated.

So I guess I'm ready to be far away from Fuller. And you know what's really funny is that I haven't even been at a church with a gay ministry for over a year. I've seen some really dark sides to the gay Christians I know. It's not all sweetness and light anymore; it's not all perfection. But I am at a fundamental shift. My line is drawn and I can't go back and I really no longer can tolerate the speech that maintains this ugly status quo. I know we wink and we nudge and we pretend we love. But we don't. At heart, these people see gay people as sinners unwilling or unable to change. And I don't anymore. I don't see them as sinners at all. And that's a huge difference.

OK, just had to get that off my chest. I suppose on some blogs it could start a firestorm of protest. I don't mean to sound unsympathetic. I have been where these people are. But at some point you just get tired. You just want the world to catch up (or rather, this slice of the world to catch up to much of the rest of it). I don't mean to sound mean. I'm not feeling angry or vindictive. I just realized that I can no longer tolerate the talk. I can't deal with the blind acceptance. I don't mind those who are truly wrestling with it - I love talking to them. I just hate it when it's pronounced as if it's a given. It's not a given. It's just not.

Another woman said that at some point she just told God that if he was really calling her to preach, he better open the doors because she was not going to spend her life defending her calling. Her calling is from God and as far as she's concerned, everybody else can suck it up. Well that is how I feel about gay and lesbian and transgendered ministers. They've been called. That's God's business. Suck it up.


rbarenblat said...

I respect and honor your struggle with this over the years.

I also applaud where this process has taken you, and I wish you endless blessings in seeking a place that isn't marred by homophobia.

I want to be in a room of people where the unwritten rule is that all persons are loved, accepted, and able to minister as they are. I am ready to be at a place where if somebody tried the kind of language I heard today they'd be ostracized, not congratulated.

Brava and amen and YES, a thousand times yes.

Brandy Daniels said...

I have been reading your blog for awhile now, and have never commented, but this post prompted some comments in me.

First, Amen. I appreciate your honesty, and your affirmation of LGBT people in ministry. I'll second the last comment- brava and amen, and YES, a thousand times yes. It is especially exciting to hear these words from someone at Fuller! I grew up in Southern California, did my undergrad work at Azusa Pacific, and almost went to Fuller for my Ph.D. in psych. It doesnt strike me as the most affirming place, so, props to you!

As a lesbian who feels called to ministry, I appreciate your comment about how those people who disagree just need to suck it up. And I most certainly understand how tiring this fighting can be... oh, how I understand it. But i think part of the calling of people who are LGBT and people who are allies involved taking a stand and being a voice, and being willing to deal with the shit in the church. sigh. :-)

Thanks again for you post, and for your blog. I enjoy reading it.

Juniper said...

yeehah!!!! Coming from a Catholic background, where the pope has officially forbidden the conversation about women priests even taking place, I, too, eventually reached the "suck it up" point. There comes a time when you have to stop nodding in weary agreement while biting your tongue (because "niceness" is somehow the gold standard of Christian discourse) and just say, enough of this, getting on with God's work and with God's rejoicing through my life and ministry.

Unknown said...

As a recent graduate of fuller - and since I'm posting this as an anonymous - I'm no longer a Fuller supporter - I'm a liberal and proud of it. I think Fuller has to get beyond the women issue - in my preaching practicums, the professor gave much special attention to women -- to the point that they gave so much affirmations that I wanted to puke and stand up and yell, "give me a fucking break." Fuller is (at least in my humble opinion) ready to begin time to think seriously about the sexual orientation issue - now that the "gay seminaries" have closed - those who feel accepted are going liberal seminaries. hmmm.

Grace thing said...

Yes! Thanks for this. I really hear you and I resonate with being tired with all this. And I have been on the other side. But I sucked it up. And I did some growing. And I'm over it and the better for it.

Cecilia said...

Thanks for this... I am grateful that your witness exists at Fuller.

ariel said...

hey, there are people who go to fuller who are LGBT. They actually have a kickass blog: http://notsostraightfromseminary.com/about/

They are anonymous on the site though because of Fuller's policies i believe. Or maybe you already know of it? Anyway, you should dialogue with them because I'm sure they would love to hear of your support. I found your blog because I was just looking for other people on blogs from pasadena. i'm a recent graduate of azusa pacific (as are my roommates) and we live in pasadena too.

i know what you mean about our generation. i pray that you will continue to be vocal in all your classes about the oppression of minorities in church and continue to include the fact that women ARE often a minority.

Cari said...

Thank you. As a GLBT student at Fuller, I appreciate your voice and wish that there were more people willing to speak out.