Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ken Wilson Makes the Case for Evangelical Christians to Welcome Same-Sex Couples

Ken Wilson, pastor of Vineyard church in Ann Arbor, makes a case for welcoming LGBT people into an evangelical church community by illustrating how one Christian leader handled the request to marry C.S. Lewis to a divorced woman back when most Christians considered it sinful to do so:

"C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia and the greatest apologist for the Christian faith in the 20th century, fell in love with a divorced woman, Joy Davidman. Her husband was an alcoholic (and not a Christian) and their marriage fell apart. Lewis had never been married. His beloved Church of England, hewing to the biblical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman for life, refused to sanction this union on the grounds that in marrying Joy, Lewis would be marrying another man’s wife, making them both adulterers."

Wilson continues:

"But there was one priest who was willing to go against the grain, Father Peter Bide. Lewis turned to Bide, a former pupil who had become an Anglican priest, after the bishop of Oxford refused to marry Lewis and Davidman. Bide knew that Lewis was asking for something that wasn’t consistent with the teaching of the Church of England. But this naïve priest prayed about it. That’s right. He asked Jesus what he should do. What a concept! As if Jesus were alive and might talk back! And he felt led by the Spirit to perform the wedding."

I especially like this part:

"During the ceremony, which took place in the hospital room where the bride was battling cancer, he placed his hands on her and prayed for her healing. She went into an unexpected remission almost immediately and Lewis and Davidman had a blessed reprieve in which to enjoy their union. They had what so many of us long for, including people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender: someone to pair bond with, someone to cuddle with at night, someone committed to care for the other should the other — as so many of us eventually do — get sick and die."

Last night at Gay Christian Fellowship at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, without any knowledge of this article by Ken Wilson, as we were discussing how strange it feels to have Christians, who are commanded by Jesus to love all people, not accept us, I mentioned that it's hypocritical of evangelical Christians to allow divorced heterosexual people to remarry in the church when they don't allow LGBT people to get married in the church.

Not to mention people who wear polyester, people who eat shellfish, and people who do not believe that women who engage in premarital sex should be stoned to death.

But comparing someone's fashion, diet, and biological urges to how they go about committing to a spousal agreement is silly. Apples to oranges. Or, apples to forbidden fruit? It's certainly better to compare similar things: marriage between two consenting adults to marriage between two consenting adults.

The argument that the Church should allow consenting same-sex adults to marry each other is hard to invalidate when you compare it to the argument that the Church should allow consenting divorced adults to marry each other. They both consider monogamous sexual relationships that some parts of the Bible condemn. Parts of the Bible many kind, reasonable people ignore, chalking it up to historical, cultural differences between the times the stories of the Bible were written and today.

When I was in second grade I woke up from a terrible nightmare. My mom came into my room and held me while I cried.

"What was your dream about?" Mom asked.

"I was in Hell! And I was burning. There was fire everywhere," I cried.

"Oh, Honey! Why would you have a dream you were burning in Hell?" Mom asked, clutching my head on her chest.

"I guess 'cause Lisa* said I was going to Hell," I explained. Lisa was my best friend at the time.

"What?!" My mom exclaimed. "Why would Lisa tell you that you were going to Hell?!" Mom rarely got mad. It was both exciting and scary when she did. I could tell she was not mad at me though by the way she continued to stroke my hair.

"She said I was going to go to hell because I was born from two adulterers, since you and Dad were both married to other people before you got married and had me."

It was good to get all that off my chest. I didn't understand all the words, even, but I knew they were heavy. I felt like what I imagined it would feel like to be inside a confession booth, sharing your bad secrets with a priest who would say comforting things. I had never been to a confession booth, but Mom talked about what it was like back when she was Catholic, when she was married to her ex-husband. It sounded nice.

"Oh, that's nonsense! Someone from their parish must have told Lisa that, but it's ridiculous! Don't believe things like that!" Mom commanded. Mom was very Maria Montessori-like in her parenting style: let kids do what they want as long as no one is getting hurt. She rarely insisted we do anything except love people. She was doing the same thing then, only with her voice raised.

I've never had another nightmare that I'm burning in Hell, even though I've had a lot more opportunities for so-called Christians to tell me that I am going to.

Thank God for my mom. She raised me to be my own spiritual guru. She taught me to love everyone, trust my gut, and ignore the details.

*Name changed.