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Assistant Minister's Column

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Letter to the editor by The Reverend Ryan in response to the Reverend Foster (a local minister), published in The Advocate, 8/24/13:

 My colleague’s letter “View not hate or homophobic” upset me. First let me thank Reverend Foster for the pastoral tone of his letter and his attempts to quell the rhetoric surrounding removing rights the LGBTQ community. It appeared that Rev. Foster wrote from a place of calm.

 Nonetheless, Rev. Foster’s letter upset me because it advocates for a world outside of my experience. It discredits the struggles of many lesbian and gays (some who no doubt are in Rev. Foster’s church) including those I’ve known in my own congregation who long to hear these true words spoken from the pulpit: “You are children of God, born whole and holy. Your sexuality, like everyone’s, is a gift—not a sin.” I cannot tell you how many people have wept in my church’s sanctuary because they were able to worship in a space that affirmed their inherent goodness without asking them to leave a part of who they were at the door.

 For some, the gay marriage argument is a philosophical one. For many in my congregation, however, its impacts stretch far beyond the abstract and adversely affect their every-day lives.

 My heart’s been broken by the stories LGBTQ folks have told me about the prejudice and malice they face, too often coming from people they love. Without legal recognition of their church-sanctioned marriage, lesbians and gays are banned from visiting their spouses in the hospital. Many deal with frustrations from the logistical (having to file multiple tax returns) to the serious (worrying about their own safety). I worry for the gay and lesbian families I know who have had to split up their children during a divorce because the State refused to recognize joint custody.

 Rev. Foster’s letter also upset me because the God I worship and the God I serve is not a God of division or of the elect. I know this God when I see love and justice. It’s hard to see this God in the words of my colleague. Too often similar words have been used to injure, shame, and denounce.

 I believe Rev. Foster isn’t acting out of hate or fear when he works against the State recognizing the marriages of gays and lesbians. I’m at a loss, however, to describe advocacy that both abstractly and directly hurt so many of the people I care about. I hope everyone who reads this letter knows that not all the people of faith or ministers are reflected in Rev. Foster’s views. God is just and God is love. Everyone deserves to worship in a place that recognizes their wholeness and holiness. No one should be asked to leave her or his doubts, sexuality, or complexity at the door.