The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Jonah, and the Whale in the room

At Discovery United Methodist Church we are studying the book of Jonah. You know, the guy that got swallowed by the big fish and was then vomited out a few days later.

The sermon series is superb. There is a lot to be learned from a tiny book of the Bible.
But I want to dive just a little bit deeper into what we have learned so far.

Jonah was all torn up because he was trying to avoid doing what was asked of him by God. Our pastor spoke of anxiety, severe stressful anxiety that leaves your stomach tied in knots.

When I heard this I thought of my own experience regarding the United Methodist Church. And I thought of the shared experiences of many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in their churches; many of them Methodist, but from other denominations as well.

I will not reveal names, but I can count numerous friends who will not set foot in the United Methodist Church again because of the anti-gay policies of the church.

If you have not been rejected by your church; if you have not been told you are an abomination; if you have not been told you are doomed to hell because you are gay, then you might not understand the knot in one’s stomach when they try to enter the door of a church.

But imagine being told that your very existence is incompatible with Biblical teaching.  When you hear this, you know that there is no sense in sitting and listening to any message of love or service or neighbors, because you don’t count. You are worthless. You are told you made a choice; a sinful choice.

 A young gay man named Jonah, aptly named for this blog post, from a video he posted a few years ago.

From here you take one of two paths. Path one leads away from the church, but you are a strong person and you do well without the church. You have been taught that God created you as an abomination, only to be condemned for who you are. Who needs a God that made you only to condemn you? The church is no longer a part of your life. God is no longer a part of your life.

Path two is a darker journey. You can’t get over the fact that your God created you to be hated by your fellow man, by your family, and by God himself. You suffer from depression. You may even take your own life.

I know of people from each of these categories.

We often hear at Discovery United Methodist Church that God loves us all. We hear about loving your neighbor as we love ourselves. But do we realize that “all” includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons? Do we realize that our “neighbors” include LGBT as well as straight people that surround us? 

We heard today that the world is broken, as evidenced by the events in the local and world news. I want to suggest that the United Methodist Church is broken as well.

The Hospitality Group is trying to bring others to the realization that LGBT people are not an abomination, that we are not to be hated or shunned because of who we are, and that the Methodist Church (and Discovery UMC) needs to change in order to repair the brokenness that holds us back.

In our group we have studied Martin Luther King Jr.’s book, “Why We Can’t Wait.”  Dr. King said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

There is a lot of silence at Discovery. We are afraid to talk about it. This whale is swallowing us all.

We should all be working for inclusion of the gay community (and others). We should be a leader in this regard. If you are not sure about this, or are uncomfortable, or would like to learn more, please join our group. It is a place where everyone (and we really mean it) is welcome, and it is a place to learn.

This week in our Wednesday night meeting we will be studying etymology. What this means is we will be studying some words in the Bible, how the words came to be, and how they came to be translated into their current understanding (or misunderstanding). It is part of our understanding of the book we are studying, "God's Gay Agenda" by pastor Sandra Turnbull.

I urge every one of you to join our group on Wednesday night. If you are not familiar with our group, you will be surprised at what we stand for, how open our discussions are, and at what you might learn.