I grew up in an evangelical, Bible-belt household.
I was taught that females shouldn’t lead churches (though being international missionaries was ok– out of sight out of mind).
I was taught that being gay was a sin. I was taught that the Bible was the infallible word of God. To be angry with how Paul referred to women was disrespectful.
To be a good Christian, I needed form myself into this mold. And who doesn’t want to be good?
Being a good Christian was about following rules. Being a good Christian was about doing good to others, especially those who had not yet prayed the sinner’s prayer of forgiveness (because maybe one day you could lead them to faith). Being a good Christian was about keeping your life close to those who believed just like you– for to spend too much time with those who were not Christians could pollute your own relationship with Jesus.
For many years, I did well at this gold star obtaining way of faith. I read my Bible a lot. I went to church a lot. And I even tried to evangelize my unsaved friends (you know who you are).
But what happens when a girl like this grows up and begins to ask questions?
What happens when a girl like this has a moment one day on a mission trip wondering what in the heck she is doing trying to force a 7-year-old in a park to ask for forgiveness of sins?
What happens when a girl like this has a calling to actually LEAD a church (and the gifts and education to do so)?
What happens when a girl like this meets some of the most Jesus loving people she’s ever met who happen to be gay too?
I guess there were two choices.
1) Become disillusioned to the whole Jesus thing saying Christians were stupid and I wanted no part.
2) Seek out a path of different kind of Christianity, even if it might leaving behind the church that raised me and my most familiar tradition behind.
Obviously I chose the second path.
Without shame, I took preaching classes at seminary, sought out a job that would allow me to preach and became ordained.
I read scripture with an open mind and have continued to do so.
I led a church that welcomed all kinds of people– those in AA, those with criminal records, those who were gay, soccer moms with drug problems and even me, a pastor with more questions than answers. (Because we are all really broken in some way).
And here’s my current challenge: I find myself as a “Preacher on the Plaza” (i.e. a pastor without a church) where the powers that be around me would love me to bow down and become more “that kind of Christian.”
Don’t I know my place? Couldn’t I be more submissive? Shouldn’t I be more accepting of those who who might just need more time to be more loving?
I can’t, my friends. I can’t.
I can’t because I believe the love of God is wider than we could ever imagine.
I can’t because I believe this world needs voices louder those of Christian majority– voices that embrace before they judge.
I can’t because I believe that revelation of God is finished; we’re all a part of a living and active story.
The best is yet to be! And I want to be a part of it. I want to be a pastor to those who have been hurt by the church and its messages the most.
So, here I stand as not that kind of Christian. But a Christian nonetheless.