beautiful monsters: Today in tears

September 30, 2006

Today in tears

Dear friends,

Today at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa NZ, 65% of commissioners voted in favour of a motion that bans from leadership anyone “in a relationship outside of a faithful marriage between a man and a woman.”

I thought I was ready for this. I knew, at least the rational part of my brain knew, that this legislation would probably come through. I was expecting this result. I believed I was prepared for it.

When the numbers were announced though, I felt like something tore open inside me. The tears spilled over so quickly, as though my body was ready and waiting for grief. Something inside me, not rational, not pragmatic, part of me kept hoping right until the numbers were read. I knew not everyone would support us, but that part of me still hoped, maybe, just maybe... 59%, that was all I hoped for. And today that part of me was broken.

The first wave of shock came when the moderator read the numbers, and all I heard was “65% in favour.” But then, later, I was shocked again, to hear the media say that only 35% opposed the motion. Only 35%. Only just over a third.

I spent half the day crying (as some of you already know, from my blubbering on the news). It was so strange to go back in, and listen to people talk about financial and administrative matters, and a rousing speech about our church’s mission. Everyone just carried on, as if no-one had been hurt, as though nothing had been broken.

Some of you are wondering how I can stick with such an organisation, but I am, I will, I must. Yes, they have said I cannot train for ministry, I cannot become an elder, or a minister... they have taken that possibility away from me. But I will not let them take away my faith. I have only just begun to hope for a God who might love me, wholly, unconditionally. I will not let them take away that hope, that promise. And I will not lose my belief our mission, the work of love, peace and justice, the dream that Christ inspires in me. If I let them take away that, they have won more than just a vote.

Amidst the hurt today, I experienced so much loving kindness, sometimes from unexpected quarters. People, some of them friends, some of them strangers, looked out for me, stood by me, reached out to me, reminded me what Christianity is all about. Love.

Of course there were also people who I have no doubt voted for the legislation, who wanted to give me a pat on the back, or a hug, or complement me on the singing. And I found that difficult. Yes, I believe I should treat them with love and respect. They have their own stories, their own reasons for the decisions they have made. But today... today is my time to be hurt. Yes, Christ calls me to love them. But today… it was like they wanted to make amends without acknowledging that they had caused me pain. Today I just wanted to cry with friends.

I guess I should get some sleep, there’s more work to do tomorrow. Assembly meets from 8:30 am till 9:30pm, so I need to try and put on a brave face again.

I’m including the speech I gave, not that it helped, but at least I had the chance to say it.

“Tena koe Moderator,

“My concern is that this legislation will be a barrier, preventing people from coming to know Christ.

“We must be aware of how this legislation will be heard, by those in the church, and by those in the wider community. And it will sound like discrimination. Many people will be put off the church before they even get a foot in the door. Some already have been.

“We must be mindful of how this ruling will feel, not just to those called into leadership, but to everyone who is in a defacto or same-sex relationship. We are saying “your relationship is unacceptable in our eyes.” And it will feel like a rejection of individual people, because of who they love.

“Gay and lesbian youth are already seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Think for a moment what Jesus would have us say to them. They don’t need another organisation telling them that their experience of love is unacceptable.

“This ruling will cause pain to many of God’s children, especially gay and lesbian people, but also their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children, friends and all who love and support them.

“There are two things we cannot choose. We don’t choose who we fall in love with. And we don’t choose to become leaders in the Church. God calls us. Let’s leave our lives in God’s capable hands.”

Nga mihi nui, nga mihi aroha,

Posted by Fionnaigh at September 30, 2006 01:43 AM | TrackBack