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drnick

Serving the church

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drnick   
drnick

I'm not really sure why I am posting this, whether it is to ask for advice, because I think some people on AVEN might understand or relate to it, or really just because I want to write it all down.

Some people who have met me at meets will have heard me come out, as it were, as a Christian. I've struggled with faith over the years, and sometimes think it would be simpler just to be an atheist, but it's not altogether a conscious choice. For a long time (certainly since I was a teenager, and I'm now in my early 30s) I have always thought that, in the long term, I might be called to devote my talents to God in some particular way and that this might, perhaps, involve becoming a minister. I'm very uncertain about this, but it is something I have thought about on and off for a long long time.

The problem, sadly, is sexuality. I would class myself as a homoromantic asexual. I'm not interested in sex, but I would generally class myself as gay. And it's not like I could pretend otherwise. I'm single; I've been single for a long time (well, more or less forever). I don't believe that it's necessary to find a partner to be happy, or be fulfilled, or anything like that, but equally I wouldn't want to give up on the idea that I might one day find somebody. Being gay and becoming a minister isn't necessarily impossible, but it would raise difficulties. The church I belong is on the very liberal end of things, but split on the issue of sexuality. Ministers are selected and trained by the church centrally, but it is up to each individual congregation, through a church meeting, to call an individual minister to serve them. And many churches wouldn't choose a minister who is gay (which I might not quite be, but I suspect that distinction wouldn't matter). Perhaps I shouldn't want to be a part of an organisation that certainly contains pockets of homophobia (but I don't think any more than that).

I don't know. I'm not really not sure if God might be calling me or not, and there is certainly no hurry to decide. Perhaps I should forget the whole thing, or think of something else to do serve the church.

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Samael   
Samael

Hmm, when you apply for the job, do they ask what your romantic or sexual orientation is? And if they do ask, will it be necessary for you to claim you're heteroromantic or heterosexual to be considered for the job?

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opal_lagoon   
opal_lagoon

"I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." - Groucho Marx.

Why would you want to serve an organization that doesn't accept you as you are?

Spirituality is a journey and is as much a part of you as your sexuality. No religion should cause you to repress or deny part of yourself (as long as you're not hurting anyone, that is). Here endeth the lesson ;-)

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drnick   
drnick

Hmm, when you apply for the job, do they ask what your romantic or sexual orientation is? And if they do ask, will it be necessary for you to claim you're heteroromantic or heterosexual to be considered for the job?

No, it isn't necessary, there are gay ministers, but it's complicated and an issue the church is split on. And choosing is a decision for each local church, so things vary, and actually that democracy is very important. And I don't think lying is a good policy (think about it).

"I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." - Groucho Marx.

Why would you want to serve an organization that doesn't accept you as you are?

Spirituality is a journey and is as much a part of you as your sexuality. No religion should cause you to repress or deny part of yourself (as long as you're not hurting anyone, that is). Here endeth the lesson ;-)

Yeah, you are right in many ways. I don't want to repress or deny myself (it has taken me long enough to get to where I am). No church as an organisation is perfect, they are made up of people and people are flawed. I don't know. I know somebody who is 50 and training to be a minister, so it's not like there isn't time to think about it. Although the way things are going there might not be a church in twenty years time, but that's another discussion.

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Lucinda   
Lucinda

Isn't devoting your talents to God and serving the church two different things? The latter is based on the whims of people that you have deemed as flawed. Hmmm .... it just doesn't seem like you should be in this sort of conundrum. Have you thought about other alternative ways to devote your talents to God? I see you play guitar. Do you ever play in church?

Lucinda

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Samael   
Samael

No, it isn't necessary, there are gay ministers, but it's complicated and an issue the church is split on. And choosing is a decision for each local church, so things vary, and actually that democracy is very important. And I don't think lying is a good policy (think about it).

I see. I don't encourage to lie, but simply exploring options here. Well, based on the information provided, if I were to apply I'd simply be true to my preferences (being gay) and apply to a congregation with the least problem of their minister being gay.

Also, I'd like to ask, what difference does it make for the congregation or the church if there is a gay minister (or a person of any non-hetero orientation) serving under them? Does the romantic or sexual orientation make it so that you can't optimally function in such an occupation? Isn't the minister there to do his or her duty as defined by the work contract, not to for example harass people of the congregation, regardless of his orientations?

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drnick   
drnick

Isn't devoting your talents to God and serving the church two different things? The latter is based on the whims of people that you have deemed as flawed. Hmmm .... it just doesn't seem like you should be in this sort of conundrum. Have you thought about other alternative ways to devote your talents to God? I see you play guitar. Do you ever play in church?

Lucinda

It's a ukulele, not a guitar, and I can't actually play it, sadly......on the more substantial point, yes, there are other ways to devote oneself to God, and the actual structures of the church might not be the best way. But working out the answer is very tricky.

Also, I'd like to ask, what difference does it make for the congregation or the church if there is a gay minister (or a person of any non-hetero orientation) serving under them?

I absolutely agree, it doesn't, or shouldn't, make any difference, but not everybody thinks the same way.

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seneca   
seneca

If this is where you feel you need to be, then go for it. I would simply state that you are asexual. If the church as a whole has a problem with that, than that is not your fault. It's theirs. You have tried your best within the parameters of your church. Seek out others The Unitarian church is open to all, as are the Quakers.

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mackat5   
mackat5

There is a church that I know that accepts everybody, but has special outreach for GLBT folk. UFMCC was started by a gay minister after he was thrown out of one of the fundementalist churches. I know that they accept everybody, because they let me in when I identified as straight, and they accept me now. There are some great folk there, and make great friends.

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G-Max   
G-Max

If I remember correctly, the Bible has some condemnations of sodomy and male-on-male action in general, but doesn't have much to say about men in romantic but non-sexual relationships. It sounds to me like you're good to go.

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Siggy   
Siggy

It strikes me as a little strange to say that you're struggling with your faith, and in the next breath say that you're considering being a minister. That sort of seems like the bigger issue.

Being a gay minister gives you an opportunity to change the attitudes of your church from the inside. If you like that idea, I say great for you.

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drnick   
drnick

If I remember correctly, the Bible has some condemnations of sodomy and male-on-male action in general, but doesn't have much to say about men in romantic but non-sexual relationships. It sounds to me like you're good to go.

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. As you might expect from what I have written above Biblical attitudes to homosexuality is a topic I know something about. I'm not a fundamentalist, and I don't believe that the whole Bible is literal truth. It has to be interpreted in our context and in the light of new understanding; it is a living document that needs to be constantly re-read. Until 150 years ago people used the Bible to support slavery; I don't suppose anyone would do that now.

The line that gets most often to condemn homosexuality is from Leviticus. But no modern day Christians follow all the laws set out there - or they would have to follow Jewish food laws. It forbids, for example, wearing clothing made of two different materials, but I have never seen anyone protesting about outside a textile factory. Everybody reads the Bible selectively, regardless of how much they pretend otherwise. There is an argument that the story of Jonathan and David is a positive portrayal of same sex love, and the Gospels (which frankly is the part we really need to pay attention to) never condemn homosexuality; and, of course, Jesus associated with outcasts, lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes...I could, needless to say, go on.

It strikes me as a little strange to say that you're struggling with your faith, and in the next breath say that you're considering being a minister. That sort of seems like the bigger issue.

I understand that you're saying, I didn't really express that part very well. I'm not struggling with faith as such, but how to best express that. And it isn't supposed to be easy, doubt and uncertainty can be positive as they lead to deeper understanding. The word disciple means a student, somebody who learns, somebody who is willing to learn; faith is a process, rather than a state you achieve and then stay where you are.

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G-Max   
G-Max

If I remember correctly, the Bible has some condemnations of sodomy and male-on-male action in general, but doesn't have much to say about men in romantic but non-sexual relationships. It sounds to me like you're good to go.

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. As you might expect from what I have written above Biblical attitudes to homosexuality is a topic I know something about. I'm not a fundamentalist, and I don't believe that the whole Bible is literal truth. It has to be interpreted in our context and in the light of new understanding; it is a living document that needs to be constantly re-read. Until 150 years ago people used the Bible to support slavery; I don't suppose anyone would do that now.

The line that gets most often to condemn homosexuality is from Leviticus. But no modern day Christians follow all the laws set out there - or they would have to follow Jewish food laws. It forbids, for example, wearing clothing made of two different materials, but I have never seen anyone protesting about outside a textile factory. Everybody reads the Bible selectively, regardless of how much they pretend otherwise. There is an argument that the story of Jonathan and David is a positive portrayal of same sex love, and the Gospels (which frankly is the part we really need to pay attention to) never condemn homosexuality; and, of course, Jesus associated with outcasts, lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes...I could, needless to say, go on.

It sounds to be like you'd make a damn fine priest/minister/whatever. You should use this as the basis for your first sermon.

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