At one point in time I checked the “divorced” box when I filled out forms. When I was just a few days past my 21st birthday, I stood in front of my fiance and my pastor and made a commitment — a covenant. I stood in front of our family and friends, in front of God and said “I do.” Just a few short years later, I broke that commitment. I ended that covenant. (Ok, “we” did but this story isn’t about him.)
But, you know what? I didn’t lose my job. When I told my boss about my ending marriage, he didn’t fire me or call me a sinner. My family didn’t disown me and never once did “abomination” come into the conversation. While in seminary, seeking my masters of divinity, I considered ordination, and, had I kept going down that path, I would have been ordained, despite my divorce status.
Divorce — that broken covenant — brought a lot of pain and guilt and shame. I cried a lot and wondered where I went wrong. I struggled, but I was never rejected by my church family. I grieved what was lost and what could have been, but I didn’t have to hide it. Everyone knew and still I was safe.
While my cells and DNA were coming together after conception, I believe that God was working with all my parents provided to create me, just as I am. God created me to be a female and heterosexual and white (although the white part was kind of a given considering DNA and all, lol). God also created parts of my personality and talents, like musical, creative, loving, and outgoing.
God didn’t determine the choices I would make. God determined who I would be. God looked at me, as God does for all of creation, and said, It is good.
If you know about anything going on in the United Methodist Church right now, you might know where this post is going…
I’m not a Bible scholar, but I do know that Jesus talks about money more than anything else. I know that divorce is mentioned several times in the Bible and in fact, because I’m now married to someone else, I’ve committed adultery. I do know that the references to homosexuality in the Bible are based in a specific context and culture. Again, I’m not an expert, but Rev. Adam Hamilton is so you can read his post about this. (His reference to pensions and retirements is a good one!)
I don’t understand why we have become so focused on this one issue. Why can I get divorced and still work in the United Methodist Church? Why is it I can choose to break a covenant and not be condemned, but my friends who are born the way God created them to be are? One is a choice, one is not. What is the fascination on this one topic? Where is the fear coming from? What do they think will happen if our gay and lesbian members are ordained?
The same thing that happens when straight ones are ordained…
Families are comforted during challenging times in their lives
Children are entertained at church functions
People argue and disagree and try to find a way to make this church thing work
Sermons are preached, prayers are prayed, hymns are sung
Toilets get unclogged and flooded basements get cleaned up
Bulletins are printed and money is counted
Sermons are critiqued, as well as the pastors
Phone calls come in late at night and dinners are interrupted
Not enough vacations are taken and pastors never stop working
I suppose my pastor does talk about his marriage from the pulpit sometimes. He talks about the challenges of raising children together, the lessons he’s learned from his wife, the ways they navigate life together. I don’t think that would sound any different coming from a same-sex marriage. In fact, I think it would sound pretty much the same.
I’m sad. I’m sad that our LGBTIQ are hearing over and over again that they are incompatible with the teachings of the church. I’m sad that we are overlooking the clear message that comes through over and over in the Bible — what God creates is good, all of it is good, all of us are good. God loves us just as we were created and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Even when legislation is passed that makes you feel unloved and unworthy, you are loved.
Even when churches and pastors tell you you’re not welcome, you are loved.
Even when people think that exclusion makes more sense than inclusion, you are loved.
Even when protestors call you names and cause you to feel unsafe, you are loved.
And, if you’re in Indianapolis, you are always welcome at my church.
14 thoughts on “I Made a Choice. They Didn’t.”
Beautiful words, Anne!
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Thank you ❤️
As I said Sunday morning from the balcony, fighting back my tears of joy looking at all of you, I was so proud to be a part of North Church.
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Grateful for your picture that SHOWS the love of North Church.
A wonderful testimony, Anne. Wise words beautifully written.
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Thanks Jill. That means a lot coming from you.
Please examine the meanings in context of the words used in Scripture around divorce. “What all these divorce bashing individuals and churches don’t see is that the “G-d”–Yahweh–would come under that, as well. He divorced Israel. He put his Bride away and issued her a “get”–a document of divorce.
However, the study of the scriptures doesn’t change certain immutable facts of human sexuality. The attitude of Yahweh is clear on unrepentant sin of ANY kind. Another thing the church misses in its idolatry of their own doctrine is that the instructions given in the Torah–your “Old Testament” (if you subscribe to Tertullian’s assessment) ARE the constitution of the Kingdom. Every government has laws. You’re “under” the millions of laws in the United States, for instance. But these instructions are based on wisdom. It’s how He designed things to function.
I wish Christians would open their eyes-as the old hymn goes–to what is their doctrine and how it lines up with what the Almighty actually has set forth. To the first century person, “believing” wasn’t some mental assent, some “decision” about the existence of Messiah. It was putting their sandals on the road and walking it out. And it’s a narrow road.
Obviously I don’t agree with you but thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Well, I keep hoping to find a Christian who will actually engage in a dialogue. But it’s easier to converse with atheists about things of the bible, in my experience, than Christians who won’t even consider exploring ideas.
When I first read your comment this morning, I felt awful. I don’t want to be the Christian that doesn’t engage in dialogue. I don’t want to shut people down. So, I went back to re-read what you wrote yesterday. Statements like “Help me understand” or questions like “Can you tell me why you believe that?” suggest the desire for dialogue. Beginning with “Please examine the meanings in context of the words used in Scripture around divorce.” automatically shuts me down from any ongoing dialogue. You started out by telling me I’m wrong. I don’t read any questions for debate or suggestions for further discussion. I’m happy to share my thoughts in a more constructive way, but that wasn’t implied from your comment. What do you want to know? What do you want to discuss further? Help me understand what you want to explore.
I didn’t say you’re wrong. I hope that you’ll do yourself a favor by looking at the Greek apostasion versus apaluo in the context of the statements about divorce. The church as a whole has not discriminated correctly between those behind the English and have fallen into error of condemnation of divorced persons.
There is the ideal that was set out, and then there’s what actually happens. The Hebrews had this notion that they could just send a wife away–without divorcing her–because unless she was found to be sexually active before the marriage, she was entitled to support. (If she was adulterating, she woudl be stoned so the problem didn’t continue in that case.) They would simply dismiss a wife for burning the toast, and then sometimes have a change of heart and go to get her back. Well, by now, had she been with another man, she might be pregnant and thereby “mix” the first individual’s line. The men might also now indulge with a consenting woman without benefit of marriage and that was also not right. That’s apaluo–simply sending a wife out without support. She was in marriage limbo.
The divorce document, the “get” let the woman go legally and without constraint. She would not go back and could not be taken back. She was now legally able to marry another person. That’s apostacion.
Ezra, when he received from YHWH about the men who had married foreigners, had them “put away” their wives because they were not of Israel, they were not authorized marriages.
What the church gets wrong is assuming that divorce is the only thing spoken of here and paints all divorced persons with a broad brush–often disfellowshipping or denying them to join. This is wrong.
Thank you for writing this.
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Thanks for reading. 💕
Thank you for saying what needed to be said! God bless you Pastor Anne.