Sunday's class ended up being very small. Three of us. Robin, one of the teachers was away and only one of the college students showed up. Matt. The other two....Josh and Brandy weren't there. Hopefully they have not thrown in the towel like the "adults" have. After abortion, homosexuality is probably the hottest button topic of the "culture wars." I probably had the most liberal position of the three of us, but the views of the other two guys were pretty balanced and not at all condemning.
Following are some excerpts and observations from the chapter on homosexuality in the book "Seeing Gray."
Adam Hamilton begins the chapter by saying:
In the spring of 2000, I was a reserve delegate to The United Methodist Church's General Conference, held once every four years. I was sitting in the balcony when the issue of homosexuality was being debated by the church.
He goes on to tell of how demonstrators who sought to end the UMC ban on ordination for self avowed, practicing homosexuals, and who hoped the church would remove language critical of homosexual practice from its discipline entered the Convention Center during the vote. They (peacefully) surrounded the delegates by standing on the perimeter of the room and the balcony to watch as the delegates voted on the issue. The Church voted to maintain their current stance and the pro gay demonstrators started to file onto the convention floor. Others came to the balcony and stood in a ring around the balcony.
A woman came and stood at the end of the aisle in my section, directly in front of me, looking down upon the delegates twenty five feet below. She was shaking and visibly distraught. Soon she climbed up onto the edge of the balcony and she stood there, looking over the floor at the conference, looking at the people who had just voted once again to exclude her from full participation in the church, and she began to shout at them. I could not understand what she was saying, but I sensed that she might be planning to jump. I stepped out of my seat, along with another, and quickly reached for the woman just as she began to leap. We pulled her back down into our laps, and held her as she lay shaking. We held her in our arms until a few moments later, when a friend arrived to care for her and walk her out. The entire incident took place in a matter of seconds, but the impact upon me, and others at the conference still lingers.
In the spring of 2004...right before the next UMC conference, Adam decided to preach on the topic of homosexuality so his congregation would hear the issues surrounding the debate from him. He said he was not prepared for the inner turmoil or confusion he experienced as he tried to prepare his sermon. He includes the sermon in its entirety in the book.
Hundreds of people gradually left the church over the course of the following year because they did not feel he took a strong enough stand against homosexuality. However during that same period of time about 1,000 people joined the church.
In the sermon, he does a good job of explaining both sides of the issue...pro gay and anti gay. His personal beliefs are somewhere in the middle. In preparation for the sermon he asked members of the congregation to email him their personal stories and opinions. Many responded.
One mother wrote, "I've known for four years that my son is a homosexual. This doesn't make me love him any less than I did. In fact, I love him more since I know the struggle he has gone through his whole life."
Adam comments on this by saying:
It struck me, when I read her words, that the love of a mother for her son may very well be a picture of the love of our heavenly Father for his children who are gay.
He ends the chapter with a post script written several years after the sermon....and he still doesn't have the answers. He is disturbed that the church has devoted so much time and energy in leading efforts against certain rights for homosexuals. He believes that Jesus would reach out to them but at the same time he does not believe that Jesus would set aside monogamous heterosexual marriage as the ideal. He ends the chapter thusly....
....I've brought some resolution to my inner struggle over the two sides of this issue by thinking of my own daughters. I try to imagine if one of my daughters felt she was homosexual. How would I respond to her? I would love her. I would want her to be welcome in our church. Would I welcome her if she wanted to bring her partner to church? Would I be able to love the person she loved? I think I would.