I had never felt so lost and alone as I did when I stood at the edge of what seemed to me to be a huge abyss. It was a point of decision yet I had no certain guidance. My heart longed to offer unequivocal acceptance and affirmation to GLBTQ folk–no more judgment, no reservations– yet my head kept reminding me that I was throwing a lot away if I took that step. My self-talk was, “Who are you to challenge the learned scholars and Biblical experts with a different interpretation of the passages dealing with homosexuality?” I had no answer, I was just a guy trying to love as Christ loved –end of story.
My struggle took me back to George Fox’s journal. I was reminded that he was once in a position similar to mine. He could find no one among scholars, preachers, counselors or anyone who could address the spiritual restlessness in his heart. Then at a time when he was in despair, he heard a voice within say: “There is one, even Christ Jesus who can speak to your condition.” He recounted his response: “Then my heart did leap for joy….”
As I reread those words, it seemed as though scales fell from my eyes. Of course! I had already begun to experience the answers I longed for; the Divine Spirit was already guiding me. I had only to let go of my fears and worries about my reputation and decide to wholly and without reservation be a welcoming and affirming presence among my gay and lesbian friends. I could assure them that “God” loves them just as they are, and that God would be faithful to move in their heart and provide whatever teaching that would be helpful to their spiritual journey. There was nothing left for me to do except to love.
I still read and believe the Bible. It’s been the center of my preaching and theology for close to 40 years. But I no longer worship the Bible; instead, I worship the Spirit, the one who was to come and remind us of all that Jesus taught. If the whole message of the Bible is centered around love, and Jesus’ teaching was a huge expansion of what it means to love, then why should I let one or two isolated verses trump that overarching message? I found these insights in the context of my Christian faith but I know that others are finding that Divine Guide through other faiths. Sorting that all out is really not our problem. Jesus promised to send the Divine Spirit to teach about sin, righteousness, and judgment; I am satisfied to let go of that task and worry about learning to love as only God could love.
I’ve never looked back from that insight, and I have been filled with joy for all the new friendships that have come my way. And I have found a way to stay centered in my own faith. I can now do that because I allow the Spirit to judge my best thinking and/or understanding by bringing all my rational beliefs and questions in to the mystical chamber (prayer), and laying them before God for God’s revelation. Such revelation is always transforming because it is based on the Spirit’s full mystery and not the tiny brains of us humans with all our prejudices and foibles.
Some are sure to find this outrageous; I can do nothing about that. And I have no desire to debate it either. I have nothing to prove other than to witness to the great expansive world that the Spirit has opened. And in that expansive world there is full acceptance for everyone.
The hard part was yet ahead of me: really “coming out” with my beliefs. I’m such a chicken and I am so jealous of my reputation among Friends that I was sure that I would waffle out and not be faithful. The truth is, though, that when the time came, I was anxious to be an advocate for the GLBTQ folks and was proud to be one working for their full and complete acceptance among
Friends. No other choice even occurred to me.
P.S. This blog is just about my feelings and experiences. It simple tells what happened to me on my journey. It is not written as a polemic or argument for my point of view, it is just a report. So please, if you want to debate you are out of luck because regardless of your beliefs or feelings. This is what happened to me.
The next post will be the last in this series – sort of an epilogue. I’m thankful to you faithful readers and your wonderful comments.