"I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me."
- Martin Luther -
YEARS IN THE CLOSET
I spent almost ten years as a pastor wrestling with the affirmation of same-sex relationships.
I spent another five years waiting on the denomination that I worked inside of to come forward into the future (or rather, the present).
They didn't, so I spent another four years transitioning a congregation that was publicly non-inclusive to being openly inclusive.
Some of my wrestling was due to prior theological programming that needed defragging. But honestly, most of it was due to self-preservation.
I had a cushy six-figure job at a well-known church in an influential city.
I had invitations.
I had exposure.
People knew my name.
People read my stuff.
I had hotels, flights, and an expense account.
Me. Me. Me. More of Me!
And yet, my self-preservation continued to politely gird the marginalization of those in my congregation who were gay— people in whom God lived, breathed, and had Its being.
They were people who loved God, prayed, and were led by the Holy Spirit.
They were people of conviction, compassion, and conscience.
They were people who stuck around and supported our church, even though I wasn't speaking up for them.
I had become privately supportive of those who were out (or coming out) in their sexuality, yet I was delaying coming out in my own theology to avoid the consequences.
DOING THE RIGHT THING
Pastors, leaders, bishops, archbishops, deacons (whichever label you choose) people are waiting for you to "come out" in the things that you secretly believe.
I understand that there are seasons. I understand that there are such things as transitional periods when leading a church. But seasons that don't end aren't seasons and transitions that don't lead to something definitive aren't transitions.
Yes. It's going to cost you.
Yes. You will lose much.
Yes. You will be persecuted.
Yes. Many of your colleagues will turn on you.
Yes. Your church attendance, your giving, and (likely) your salary will decrease.
But you will be doing the right thing. And when you do, the few(er) who stand with you will be mightier than the masses, and their commitment will match your own.