Views from the Bridge

Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

I am publishing today without Colin. This is still a conversation we had in the car! But somehow we are very bad at coordinating our blog posts together.

Well, Colin and I had an awesome conversation about gender and spirituality. I am an elder (provisional) in the United Methodist Church which means I am a pastor. He is pagan which means most of his practices are isolated since we live in the boonies.

I asked, “How has gender impacted your spirituality?”

His immediate response as a teen was, “huh?”

I explained a bit. Mark Driscoll, the pastor of a conservative mega church, has said that he needs to worship a manly Jesus. This makes my eyes roll back into my head, frankly. I asked Colin the same question again.

His response was something like…

…well, I have a ridiculous mother that lets me explore what I need to explore and I had a ridiculous confirmation teacher that let me find out who I am, and a ridiculous church that never said anything bad.

Ridiculous = Good.

I then asked him something like, “Reflecting back, you now practice an almost solitary practice of spirituality in your pagan practice. Do you think it could be because you were beginning to transform into who you are and gender boxes in church didn’t suit you any more?”

YES! Gender does not come up in my spirituality. It is unimportant and unrelated.

Colin’s spiritual transformation out of Christianity began about the same time he came out to his church. Not that they weren’t fully supportive, they were in the way they knew how which was to essentially shut-up and not say anything good or bad, but to go on as normal. But Colin is a community person, so he found his way to a Unitarian Universalist Church for a while and we will see what happens as he grows into full adulthood (geez, 17 already).

I see a link between his transformation, gender, and the church. Do you see a link between gender and your spiritual expression?

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Colin & Terri

This is not okay.

This is the same as that movie.

What movie are we talking about? (The Lorax referenced below).

And this. Is. War.

But I’m pretty sure that the United Methodist Church doesn’t look at it like that. And just saying?

Homosexuality is not the equivalent of war. War is an oppressive act of violence stated to gain something for the victor in most – not all – cases. The other primary option of war is to fix an oppressive situation. War revolves around oppression, whether it be solving or creating. As far as I am aware, homosexuality is not oppressive, however many people whom are homosexual are oppressed or become oppressive  to avoid getting hurt. But if that is the case, then shouldn’t war be equivalent – if it must be to something – to those who oppress?

Asking people to own their oppression is difficult to do. We all have some stake in this. We’ve talked about the transition for you to “white male.” And you have said, without my prompting, I might add, that the only thing that bothers you is that you are part of the structure that has traditionally oppressed. We all have two-ness as oppressor and oppressed. The beauty of what you did…by identifying the oppressive element, you can then guard against it and purposely lay it down. It is hard to give up power. Especially hard to give up power when it is wrapped up in ecclessial and/or biblical belief.  And even more difficult for people to believe that their understanding may be wrong.  To be wrong then means to confront all the pain that you have dealt to other people in your righteousness.  Sigh.

My identity is what keeps me going when I am down, and keeps me strong when I feel weak. It is how I view myself when I look in a mirror and how I explain myself to those who care to listen and not judge. My identity is not an oppressor, but somebody who has been oppressed. And yes, I am not a homosexual, in fact I am asexual, but I am a boy who likes boys, a boy who likes girls, a boy who likes it’s, them’s, zie’s, zhers, and zy’s. Lesson on gender language here. I am a boy who has a beautiful body given to me that I cannot love for myself, Do you mean that you cannot love the current femaleness of your body? though I do love, and will never be able to identify with. I am a boy with a girlfriend though I am okay with having more than one partner and probably will have more than one in my future. I am a 16 year old that identifies as five, and who knows when that will change. I am also a boy with a voice that speaks out against things I cannot identify with because they oppress me.

Info on sexual fluidity here. I remember when I was in college the first time around, we did a ‘quiz’ on gender to determine how we identify as male or as female. It was all about typical traits associated with one gender or the other. I came out smack in the middle. A little to obnoxious to be “feminine,” a little to nice to be “masculine.”  Stereotypes.

War is not the same as homosexuality.

Darn tootin’!

In the United Methodist Church there are two things that are not compatible with Christian living. Number one, war. And number two, homosexuality. Basically anything on that list is held at the same standard, and is equally bad. But homosexuality is not, nor as bad as war.

Homosexuality is not even bad. Seriously. What are we telling our people? Nobody. Nobody. Nobody. is getting bent out of shape in our churches over war. War kills. 

Here’s what the book says:

The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.

No Author (2009-01-01). The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008-2012 (p. 103). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy.

No Author (2009-01-01). The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2008-2012 (p. 128). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Homosexuality is an identity.

War is what is happening between Israel and Palestine. And by the oppression of Palestine, the church profits.

The UMC pension plan for pastors has investments in companies that work for Israel such as Caterpillar. Caterpillar bulldozers are used to bulldoze Palestinian settlements. When voting to divest, the argument went something like this. “We know it is wrong to do, but some people in our church might have their investment impacted if we vote for divestment.” So they voted to keep putting money into a company that is essentially a weapon of war. Sigh. So much for John Wesley’s, “Do no harm.”  On the other hand, they did vote to divest themselves from privately run prisons.  Hallelujah and Amen. 

Now, have you ever seen the movie the Lorax? It’s this amazing movie – based off a book – that I loved. It tells of healing, and I was glad to go and see it. When talking with one of my friends at school about the movie, he said that he would not go see it because it had bad morals and stood for wrong causes.

I was blown away!

This movie – this BEAUTIFUL movie was corrupt? Not possible! It stood for healing, and taking care of the earth and –

“But have you seen those commercials for McDonald’s and other multibillion dollar companies that involves the Lorax? Every time you go and see the Lorax, you’re supporting those companies with the money you use to pay for tickets.”

And that money is used in ways that are destructive and often goes towards countries that use it to destroy others in war.  Or that money is used in more subtle destructive ways. Movies and advertising that demeans women’s bodies, encouraging earth-destructive growing practices, disgusting practices around beef, etc.

Huh.

Basically, the church is doing the same thing with Israel and Palestine.

So the church is even further demeaning homosexuality by offhandedly supporting war. So, what message is that giving to the world?

‘Cause according to that logic, homosexuality is not even the equivalent of war. It’s worse than war.

I am so sorry. I hold your pain.

Weather on the bridge today? Hot and sunny. But really, it felt cloudy in our hearts.

Shalom.