So, after 3+ months, I am posting again.
It's been quite a time. In April, just after my last post, The Beau and I decided to take the plunge and finally move in together. As he has a fabulous condo and I had been renting a ramshackle flat next to a fairly grungy bar (not in the Nirvana sense, either), we have consolidated lives at the condo. (It's going very well. No dead bodies yet, no massive meltdowns - OK, one moderately hysterical one, but it couldn't be helped.)
For those of you who've read old posts of mine, you know that I have been a member of the United Methodist Church for most of my life. A friend of mine jokes that both she and I were Methodist in vitro. But recently, I've taken a break. A sabbatical, if you will, although the irony of the etymology of that word is painfully apparent.
You see, as a matter of official doctrine, the United Methodist Church (UMC) is OK with having gay congregants, accepting their time and donations, but they won't ordain them. Well, that's not quite fair - they subscribe to the liturgical version of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".
So, if you don't tell your bishop or other church leader that you are a well-adjusted, caring homosexual in a loving, committed relationship, you can perhaps have the opportunity of being posted to lead a Methodist congregation and continue to serve the community at large.
Just don't be happy or a good role model or open and sharing of your experiences. Keep that to yourself, please.
Or we'll have to dispatch you from the pulpit.
It gets better.
The following is directly from archives of umc.org, and while I acknowledge that each section is quoted out of its greater context, it is no less troubling. Until recent years, I had only been vaguely aware of the Church's official stance; seeing it in print is...well, heartbreaking.
For nearly 20 years, church law as recorded in the Book of Discipline has included a ban on the ordination of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" and has espoused "fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness." And while acknowledging the "sacred worth" of homosexuals, church law condemns homosexual practices as "incompatible with Christian teaching."
And my life is incompatible with Christian teaching? I thought I'd lived a fairly decent Christian life - now, I don't want you to think that I have lost faith. My faith is strong and sure and deeply personal. But I have lost some great measure of faith in the UMC. And that hurts too.
The dichotomy of espousing fidelity in marriage but denying marriage rites or even union blessings to gay couples is at the very least contradictory. I don't know if any of you've ever come across this reference, but it speaks louder to me now than when I first heard it 20 years ago:
"We have forced gay people into the red-light districts, forced them to meet each other in bars and lurid places - then we call them promiscuous sinners." Adele Starr, founding President of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Jus this week in the weekly newsletter, our new choir master wrote an eloquent appeal to the congregation to consider joining the choir. I do miss the music, but not in the way that I thought I might. There was a time in my life, not so long ago, that despite whatever I was facing in my life, however deeply my faith and belief was challenged, that music lifted me up. I cannot begin to count the times in my life at Rayne that were full of grace through music. But for now, those strains have been silenced.
And for now, I am here. Not so very far away, but no longer where I was.