Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Journey - Stage Two

Most of my first year for seminary was taken by correspondence. After four years I arrived on campus. This is where I really began to hear arguments both for and against same sex relationships. I, of course, argued vehemently for them. Most of what I heard against did nothing to convince me differently and I learned more about what lay behind the reasoning of those who supported.

On internship, my supervisor mentor was as much against same sex relationships as I was for them. We found a way forward without letting the issue harm our ministry together. I did ask to borrow one of her books which spoke against such relationships on a biblical basis. I will admit to not being able to finish the book although I did read it half the way through. The approach to interpretation in the book and the approach I had come to adopt at seminary were too different. I found no common ground on which I could base either an agreement or disagreement.

During my internship, I really questioned my stance on the issue. My supervisor/mentor was so much against (although not rabid about it). This caused me to question my own stance. To get to the parish where I was interning was a 45 minute drive on fairly open highway. I was able to spend a fair amount of that time in prayer and meditation. One day I gave my confusion over to God. What I recieved back was two touchstones. One was - does the relationship do any harm? The second was - does the relationship promote the work of the kingdom?

Up to this time I had not really come to know any same sex couples, so the matter was still fairly academic for me. I did know one gay couple from my church. I watched them and their love for each other but in all honesty they were an oddity for me at the time. I was fascinated because they were different, but, although I talked with them, I never really tried to get to know them.

I finished seminary and went into parish ministry. Without having to keep up with my theological studies on a structured basis, I now found time to study human sexuality more seriously. I pulled articles off the Internet from reliable sources. Admittedly the majority of these were pro same sex relationships but I did pull a number off that spoke against them. I also started a more serious feminist study of women in religion especially Christianity.

As I read more and more about the feminine and traditional understandings and experience, the more I discovered how deep seated was the attitude toward anything that threatened the "masculine". Patriarchy had a strong hold on society and religion in general and Christianity in particular. And patriarchy in the church was often based on the thoughts of pagan philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. Those thoughts so went against my experience of being female that I couldn't believe that people still embraced them.

At the same time, there were occasions that I was having to defend being a female in ordained ministry. One gentleman mentioned that the Spirit would never call a woman to the ordained ministry. This was so contrary to my experience that I continued to question tradition. If tradition is wrong on the issue of the feminine, could not tradition also be wrong in the whole area of human sexuality.

This idea of fear of the feminine re-inforced what I had come to understand about the passages in the Bible in general and the passage in Leviticus in particular. As my feminist studies continued alongside my studies on human sexuality, I began to see more and more parallels and become more convinced that we were wrong in not accepting the "integrity and sanctity of committed adult same sex relationships" (as it was put by GS 2004).

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