"Let us run with endurance the race set before us." I believe in the lifelong pursuit of love, knowledge, and Christ. Never give up.

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Resentment & Forgiveness

I started dating a wonderful man this spring, and (as I had previously decided) stepped down from my position leading music unless/until the elders invited me back. There are people at my church who told me they would leave if I were leading music and dating simultaneously. This came at a good point in my life, as for the last six months (and the next year), I am spending more time focusing on school, work, and furthering my career. I had not given enough time to this due to all the time I was giving church. It’s okay to take a break.

But I’m learning that even after I graduate next spring, and when I can transition to a place where school and work become the same and I have fewer time commitments- there will likely still be no place for me to serve in the ways I feel called (music, teaching) at my church.

And people are still giving me verses…you know which verses. This is requiring so much patience on my part. It’s easy to feel resentful about how people conceptualize me, and what roles they think LGBT people should have. I get the impression that many hope I will change.

I was speaking with one of my closest friends about this- about how bitterness can build up in one’s heart, and choosing forgiveness is the way to break it down. Forgiveness is difficult. But that’s the Gospel. We are all forgiven. If I claim to be Christian, which to me means choosing to follow Jesus, then I must extend the same grace of forgiveness to others. Even if they say things that hurt, marginalize, and misrepresent me and other LGBT people and allies…I have to start with forgiveness. Don’t hold these things against them, Perrin.

Keep running.

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Listening to Gay Christians

toddthomas.net

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I won’t try to do deep exegesis in every blog post on LGBTQ inclusion. It’s equally worth our time to step back and be reminded that people are people and their stories do mater. I’d also remind us to be mindful of our own stories. Be mindful our own stories? Oh yes, we all have our stories.

It’s time that gay Christians are heard telling their own stories.

It’s time they are allowed to tell their own stories. I’ve noticed, and in the past have been guilty of, a need that many straight Christians feel to frame (and kinda highjack) the stories of their gay brothers and sisters. And when we do that we almost always frame their stories in a way that excludes wholeness, health (spiritual or physical), faithfulness and sincerity. So we use categories that make huge assumptions and use generalizations that do harm. We talk of the gay agenda

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Coming Out

 

I want to use this blog to track what happens next.

I might be wrong.

Please read this post from John Walton, professor at Wheaton College .

This is crucial to keeping the church together as we move forward. It’s so much bigger than being right or wrong.

“Are Same-Sex Relationships Sinful?” Let’s put more effort into understanding the different perspectives here

This is, unfortunately, a divisive issue for many Christians. My church temporarily kept a man from preaching because of his facebook-posted thoughts in favor of same-sex marriages (thankfully, he is back to preaching again). Christians get very mad about this. Some Christians get mad because of how gay people are hurting because of traditional church teachings. Some Christians get mad because they feel the authority of the Bible, along with God’s design for family and society, are being thrown out the window. I rarely see constructive dialogue, where people say things like “I understand why you believe that, and I respect that view, although mine is different.” That would be nice to hear.

The best scientific research still has few leads on the causes of same-sex attractions. Despite that, years of research and experience has supported the idea that for most people, sexual orientation is fixed. When gay people try to change that (and particularly when they tie their change efforts to their faith in God), they often end up hurt from a lack of change, and connect that to their belief in a loving God. Now they are hurt by God.

Even Exodus International, an organization who tried to help men and women struggling with same-sex attractions change their attractions, has shut their doors and apologized for the hurt they caused the people they were trying to help (Click here to read about it). Former Exodus president Alan Chambers now runs a new organization called Speak. Love., an organization for “promoting peace, reconciliation and understanding on issues surrounding the Church and the LGBT community” (Click here for info on Speak. Love.). Attempting to change one’s sexual orientation is risky and it is dangerous to promote the idea within the church.

If you believe same-sex relationships are not sinful, make sure you have fully engaged with and understood someone who believes they are sinful for Biblical reasons. Learn about their concerns, and explain why you experience different concerns.

If you believe same-sex relationships are sinful, meet some gay people and hear their stories, and learn about the effect that non-affirming theology has on their lives. Also spend time learning interpretations of the Bible that differ from your own.

Keep running.

Name Change – runwithendurance

I just changed the name of this blog from “at the intersection” to “runwithendurance.”

As I mentioned in my first post, at the intersection is a limiting title. It assumes, that by identifying places when faith intersects with other issues, there are issues where faith is irrelevant. I do not believe that idea, nor do I want to promote it.

Run With Endurance comes from Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV): “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

This has been my favorite verse and phrase for about a decade now, and it seems fitting to use it at the title for this blog. I’m not to get everything right. I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to the believe the wrong things. I’m going to hurt people-and so will you. But I’m going to keep running towards Jesus, and I want you to do the same.

My Letter To The Elders

To the Elders of CFC:

I has recently come to my attention that a woman was not allowed to share sermon time with her husband for the purpose of teaching her perspective on the topic.

I am aware that this was connected to a decision made many years ago that women 1) cannot be elders at CFC, and 2) cannot preach (teaching from the Bible during the “message time”).

I have three concerns with this stance: Two that are very important to me, and one that is more for practical purposes.

My first concern is that we are losing perspective, insight, and information. The woman considered for preaching is well-educated. She also has substantial experience in church life, mission work, and counseling. Gender aside, I believe she is more than qualified to speak at CFC. She is more qualified than I am and I spoke. The result of whatever theology lead to this decision meant that the congregation missed out on what a person has to say about our faith – a personal who has unique and important insights and knowledge. Our church could have grown by hearing her perspective and teaching from the word of God- but we did not.

My second concern is the message this sends to women. Although CFC only told one woman in particular this time, this message affects other women with similar desires to preach. We told her that her gender disqualifies her from speaking at our church. To my knowledge, that was the only criteria that held her back. The results of this theology can be damaging to the self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy (feelings of competency) of an individual. Please be aware that we just told her that because she is a woman, she is not allowed to share her knowledge and perspectives through the venue of teaching from the Bible during the message time. This is a very damaging idea to give a person: it runs along the lines of “you are not good enough to _____”(I have not spoken with any individuals involved in this aside from my dad, and cannot speak to their feelings or concerns regarding this issue).

My third concern is that this appears to me as a very blurry line to draw. We say that women can teach the Bible, in the form of Sunday School. We say that women can speak during the message time, say, to share information on missionaries, or maybe a testimony. But a woman cannot teach the Bible during the message time? How is that different? We allow each of those events separately, but somehow combining them is wrong? From where did we find this line?

I would appreciate if the elders would take the time to 1) explain the theology behind the decision to not let women preach at CFC, and 2) examine the concerns I presented above.

 

When A Woman Isn’t Allowed To Preach

Last week, both I and my father were out of town, and another man (who used to be an elder, and has spent significant time in overseas missions) spoke in place of dad. His wife was going to spend “6-7 minutes of his sermon time sharing her take on the message.” I am told that the elders said “no” to this. Whatever theology they are using to support this decision is resulting in our entire congregation missing out on the perspective of a person who wants to share. I am told that women can share in other ways, even during the sermon time, but they apparently cannot teach from the Bible during this time.

I’m going to be honest, this infuriates me. We just told someone her gender removes the worth of her perspective. This woman has been a faithful member of our church for my entire life, and has always been willing to serve, love, and listen. She is very well-educated, and has a ton of experience with the intersections of theology and human behavior. But she can’t speak in our church? How de-humanizing.

I’m going write the elders and ask for an explanation of this decision, as well as prepare an argument/paper outline on why I believe women should be allowed to preach during the church service.

Just wanted to start this blog out on the right foot.

Welcome to At The Intersection

This blog is scary and exciting at the same time. I’ve wanted to start a “real” blog, something beyond my regurgitated, 10-second rants on tumblr. But to share what I truly believe is intimidating. I can do it in conversation with those close to me, but to let that be reflected on the internet, where people I know who disagree with me can read it, is scary.

I am a music leader at my church. I spent the last year teaching high school sunday school, and I co-lead the young adult group. I work for the local public school system. I attend night classes for my M.S. in Clinical Psychology.

There two big pieces of my worldview that are important to uphold in whatever discussions follow: 1) Each person is created unique and infinitely valuable, and has the right to share their perspectives. 2) The church should be a space for people to share their perspectives. (One such perspective I currently believe is that the Bible should not be taken at face-value, but instead needs to be understood in the context of the author and recipients, translations through the years, and our own personal/societal lenses).

The church where I grew up- where my dad is the Pastor, and I am known for my musical talents, knowledge, and leadership abilities- leans conservative. However, there are many in the congregation who are comfortable questioning tradition and the face-value interpretations of Scripture. These are the people I connect with the most, whether the questioning process leads them to a more conservative or a more liberal worldview.

To call this blog “At The Intersection” limits the holistic reality of Christianity in my life. However, there are specific issues that become pertinent in light of religion. Thus, I will use this blog to examine and share my thoughts on these issues…or whatever else I feel like talking about or posting. Please contact me with questions, comments, or discussion. Let’s all contribute.