They’re tough questions you ask. As a straight pastor I’ve been in a similar position, but the Baptist denomination here in Melbourne is at least a little more accepting….
I decided to stay and try and change things from the inside and have committed to studies that will hopefully produce resources for others to equip themselves to do the same. I’ll be honest though and admit that I worry what the cost will be to me and my family. I’ve been threatened by the national body with removal of my accreditation as an ordained minister though at state level I’ve received nothing but support. I could be fired down the track, but I’m not sure how likely that is.
In my current church and the one before this, I asked in my interviews whether two guys who turned up at church on Sunday morning holding hands would be welcomed – simply because I would not serve in a church where my friends would not be welcome. There was an uncomfortable silence, but in the end I got an honest “We hope they would be welcomed like anybody else”.
That was enough to begin the process of education and acceptance.
Of course, I’ve had some people leave my congregations because of the “homosexual issue” and a couple of leaders step down. Fortunately, we have a big chunk of families that have gay or lesbian kids and they have finally been able to talk about their experiences – and shed a new light on what it means to be gay and be rejected by OUR church.
IN two weeks we’re having a Sunday where we focus on sexuality. The sermon on the morning will be on Biblical perspectives on sexuality, followed by a Q&A session over lunch, and then some time for me to share my 15 year journey with the LGBT community. I’m looking forward to see what happens!!
Anyway, that’s a long winded way to say you’re not on your own struggling with this issue. You can’t ignore it and it won’t go away. Whatever you do maintain your integrity and keep the faith, no matter what expectations are put on you by church authorities. Remember, people, especially young people, are taking their lives over this. Those young people might be our kids one day, or, at very least, good friends of our kids.
I have two boys that are in the early years of primary school. I pray they grow up treating everybody with the respect they deserve as human beings, but I also pray they show Gods love and compassion to everybody in the same way. If they are to do that, it has to start with me. Now.