The following is my response to an email I got from my friend Chase (click here to read his email). Throughout my ministry I have mourned the position of UMC that prevents Chase from being ordained or married because of his sexuality. This letter represents where I am and is not meant to pass judgment on others in different places. If you do feel guilt, I invite you to struggle with me in that. Based on my interpretation of Scripture, I do not believe homosexual acts to be sin. This letter is based on that premise, so if you disagree with that, you probably won't agree with any of it. All I ask is that you accept that deeply committed Christians who love Jesus and the Bible as much as you do, have a very different perspective than you might. If you disagree, feel free to engage me, but please leave Chase out of it. The Church has already hurt him enough.
Thank you for your bearing your soul to me in your letter. Your vulnerability reminded me of Harvey Milk and your call for urgency reminded me of Martin Luther King Jr. writing from a jail cell, also to a bunch of clergy that were calling for patience.
I suppose my statement could be framed a bit more directly, so here goes—I will officiate your wedding or any other wedding I am asked to officiate. I will fight for the Church to one day ordain you, should we be lucky enough to have you back. Sure there may be a trial, but at least I will be able to account to God for my ministry. For me, I would much rather be a defrocked unemployed ex-elder than a play-it-safe sell-out with a guaranteed job.
This is a deeply personal issue for me. It is personal because of people like you and BJ and Tim and Brad and Justin and Michelle and John and Michael and David and Stephen and Audrey and Arden and Mark and Nathan and Robin and Sarah and the countless others who have changed my life because of the love they have shared with me. I have known you as compatible and I will be damned if I continue to remain passive in a church that labels you otherwise. I will be damned if at the end of my life I look back and regret not speaking truth to injustice I so clearly see. I will be damned if I am shuffled into the goats only to hear Jesus say, “I was transgender and you turned your back on me.”
To my fellow clergy… the words I have written represent were I am presently on my journey. I know you are each at different places. Most of you that will read this are at least in a similar place theologically. I pass no judgment on you for how you choose to be present as pastor to the LGBT community. I do, however, invite you to join me. Lay yourselves down with me... with lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexual, queer, questioning, asexual, intersex, and others labeled or treated “incompatible” by our Church.
Today I met with a pastor of a large church who has been committed to this for a long time. He mourns the fact that when a same sex couple wants to be married he has to farm them out to another inclusive church. It pains him that he cannot officiate as their pastor. I respect his choice as he is clearly making a difference by the vast numbers of LGBT who have found a community that accepts them. He feels called to fight for change from within, without breaking the rules… I respect that. I do, though, invite him and others to pray about joining me and thousands of other UM clergy around the world in ecclesial disobedience… to embrace our vocation by laying down our careers in the company of Philip, Jesus and the LGBT community—in a perichoretic orgy of love in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I love you Chase. I give God thanks for your holy witness and challenge to the people called Methodists, for your holy presence to those who are troubled, and most of all, for your holy friendship.