Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wiccan, Christian, Lesbian

From CBS News:
Another major issue facing Episcopal Church leaders during their 10-day national convention, which began Wednesday, is the blessing of same-sex unions. The church legislature is expected to consider it next week.

One proposal being discussed would codify the church's unofficial policy of allowing each diocese to decide whether to ordain homosexuals and bless gay relationships. Another proposal suggests the church develop rites for couples who live in monogamus, committed relationships but do not get married.

A delegate to the convention resigned after he scattered salt—a traditional method of battling the devil—under the tables of openly gay and lesbian delegates and their supporters.

Church officials announced Saturday the Rev. Nelson W. Koscheski resigned as a delegate from the Diocese of Dallas after the "salting" brought the church's House of Deputies to a halt Friday for prayers and songs of reconciliation.

I work hard to reconcile my faith in the goddess with my Christian faith. Wounded, damaged and broken, it took many years to reenter the Christian faith. And I'm proud to be Episca-pagan. I whisper goddess in all the parts where they say god, because my image of male Diety is not positive. I keep going because I need community. I need a buidling that represents safety. I need ritual. And I deeply value attendance with Cameron because it deepens and strengths our spirituality together. But that introduces yet another quandry. Yesterday pretty much sums it up.

With little money to buy even by groceries, when our church announced a "Quite Day" at the cost of $20 each, I asked if we could pay half and both attend. Mother L agreed. We basically paid the cost of our box lunch from Panara Bread. We have been looking forward to Quiet Day for weeks. Then Friday an article was published in the local paper that talked about the battle raging in our church regarding gays and lesbians. So I approached Mother L in tears, needing to know Cameron and I will always be welcome regardless of what the bishop of our diocese decides. Mother L affirmed that she and Father M have our backs. My mistake lies in asking what can we do to help. Her response was predictable and heartbreaking: "Watch your public displays of affection. Don't sit with your arms around each other in the pew or hold hands in public. Don't sit too close to each other. When people see you together, time after time, they'll know you are together." Granted, Mother L is extremely reserved, and does not like much of anyone's PDAs. But I doubt she would have said the same thing to an adult heterosexual woman. She would have said it to a teenager.

Cameron was in so much pain when I relayed the conversation, that she immediately sought out Mother L as well. Mother L admitted she would not counsel a heterosexual couple the same way. When she was done, Mother L could see Cameron's point of view, sort of. She admits she is not comfortable with any public displays of affection. Cameron attended church with her parents the whole time she was growing up. Her father always had his arm around her mother. Her mother, in turn, alwasy had her arm around Cameron. Touch became another way to connect in faith as a family. So telling Cameron not to put her arm around me was like telling her we cannot behave as a real family.

I did a little more research, to see exactly what the Anglican leadership has to say. It isn't pretty. Indeed, its mysogenistic and condescending:

No Bible-believing Christian can say that “men are from Mars and women from Venus.” They are not distinct species but have been made for each other in their distinctiveness and complement each other. This is the burden of the earliest chapters of Genesis that are strongly and unambiguously affirmed in the teaching of Jesus himself. As a whole, the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality clearly affirms that the proper expression of our sexual nature is within the context of married love. The alternative, for those who have this gift, is dedicated singleness in the fulfillment of God’s purposes.

In the pagan world, in which the Bible was written, such a view was vigorously countercultural. Many of Israel’s neighbors tolerated both heterosexual and homosexual practices that are rejected by the Bible because they violate the holiness of God, the order of creation and respect for persons.

It is often the case that where the fundamental teaching of the Bible regarding marriage is not upheld, the status of women, in particular, suffers and they are reduced to being either a source for male self-gratification or chattel who maintain the home while men seek gratification elsewhere.

As to same-sex attraction, there may be a predisposition toward it, even if we do not know all the reasons for it. That does not mean it must be gratified. Not every desire can or should be given active expression.

There may be relationship issues with a parent or a seeking of the man or the woman “I want to be” in others of the same sex. Those in such situations need to be cared for and to know that God loves them. They need to be helped so they can conform their lives to the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Never mind that my Anglican brothers of my church leadership judges me by the Old Testament world -- the same world where the book of Levitacus dictates what food may be eaten, and the instructions for the passover feast and minutely dictated. Let's just take what we want and leave the rest. Certainly, let's not point out that Old Testament law ended, was fullfilled, by Christ's death. That Christ himself followed the law before fullfilling it with his own sacrifice for the express purpose of creating a space in which Wisdom, God and the Holy Spirit might be recreated in a world of grace, where forgiveness is available for asking rather than through blood, because he had shed his own blood for all. Yeah, I know my bible. I even believe in it. No wonder the Americans may have to break away Anglicans.

Today we went to church, and we took Mother L's words to heart. We want to reach out to our community, show them that being lesbian is another family dynamic. The whole hour, Cameron was bitterly, painfully aware of Mother L's advise. She never put her arm around me. And by the time communion came, she had tears pouring down her face. Another myth of safety has been ripped away. We have come of age. Our church, while loving us and welcoming us, doesn't quite know what to do with us. And while they support our attendance, and would defy anyone regarding our right to be present, still lacks the skill and education to know how to support us as a family. They see a lesbian couple, rather than a lesbian family.

My church is like the rest of the world, which says, "Why do gays have to talk about being homosexual. I don't talk about being heterosexual." Well, if you are the majority, your identity is assumed. Dynamics and interactions are a forgone conclusion. The dominate story fits and you don't have to protest. But I'm a lesbian. My wife is gender dysphoric. We are wives--which mother supports, even when she finds it jarring (she's never asked when/how we were married). Our world is colored by discrimination and our safety is compromised by headlines and the threat of violence.

So we will remain in our church (we've been attending for years, but only occassionally--we've now been three weeks in a row). Indeed, I'm going to confirmation classes at the end of the month, and will be confirmed as a member by the Bishop in October. Cameron's parents will even come, as they did for her! And we are the token "out" couple everyone can pat themselves on the back about being so open minded. Goddess knows, change begins must start somewhere. Let it be with me. Or US.


  1. Wow that was very touching. I'm kind of wondering why though you both put yourself through this kind of torment? I have family that cannot stand that I'm Pagan. They loved me for 35 years, until the moment I came out of the broom closet. And like your post suggests, they still welcome me and my husband to their home for the holidays, birthdays etc. They would also argue my right to be there with others as well, but do they really want me there? I think not, and so, I don't attend many functions. Because my lifestyle, my religious views are not to be comprimised just to feel included in a family gathering.

    I hope that doesn't sound too tough, but I'd ask you why, you are putting yourself in a situation with people that frankly are just tolerating you?

    The problem with this country is that most people aren't comfortable with people that are comfortable in their own skins. They are jealous of people that have the balls to act on what they want, and behave the way they feel. Now I'm not saying "anarchy in the streets" because I know there needs to be rules. What I am saying however, is that as long as you're a consenting adult, and the people you're hanging out with doing whatever it is you're doing are adults too, and you're not trying to get others who don't want to what you're doing, who's business is it anyway?

    The country is uptight, and always in other people's business. The way we as a society should react to something that makes our insides go "wow, what the heck are they doing" should merit a test like this: will this activity affect how I pay my bills, how my spouse/sig other/ and I relate to each other, will it harm mine or my families physical safety? If the answer to those questions are "no" then I say it aint none ya bidness!

    Peace out!

  2. Hi Zoe,

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your story. I value your thoughts, and I have asked myself the very questions you are asking of me. So here's the rest of the story.

    Cameron shopped churches for quite a while before choosing this one. She was up front about being gay, and the head rector's answer was, "So?" Neither the rector nor the assistant rector have ever made her feel unwelcome. Indeed, her former partner was even more vocal than I am about being Wiccan. She and Father M used to swap incense!

    When Cameron and I got together, the church suddenly had a couple, rather than a lesbian, and they continued to make us welcome. Unlike Luna, I attend with Cameron at every opportunity. But we live 45 minutes away, are both in college, and I have an insane work/school/practicum schedule, so we've probably been there about 40 times in 5 years. I used to prefer the Wed night service because it was often candle lit and medatative. My current schedule just doesn't allow for it.

    The church has ministered to us as the bible teaches. When Cameron had her hip surgery, Mother L was at the hospital praying. When we got home, Gentle One brought us communion. When he saw our povery and empty cupboards, he brought back enough groceries from the church to feed us for three months. When the electricity was about to be shut off, they paid the bill. Indeed, my best guess is that over the last five years, they've given us about $1500 in cash. College book money, electric bill money, gas money, or just enough to keep the checking account from bouncing. Mother L, without my asking for help, said to me this weekend that she wishes she could help us this fall, but the discretionary funds are empty. I didn't ask; but she knows our situation and I appreciated the fact that she wished she could help. In fact, a few times I asked for help, it didn't come from church money, but from Father M or Mother L's own wallet. Moreover, we've only given a single dollar here and there to the collection plate. We have no means to give back the help that has been extended to us. Won't have it until we are out of college. (We are both almost 50 -- both have had severe relationship/financial distress and changes in careers).

    This church has ministered to our souls. Indeed, it was the lay ministery class taught by Mother L that led to our both returning to college. When I was about to complete my third degree, I wanted to balance my paths. I went to Mother L for confession and the rite of forgiveness. It's not often done in the Episcopal church, but she did it at my request. I needed the healing it would provide. Mother L knew I was about to be degreed. She knew I was planning a silent retreat as part of the preparation. And while she didn't quite understand what I was doing, she supported my soul work just the same. I felt respected for my choices and my path.

    When my 26 old trailor was about to be condemned last summer, I bought the supplies, and the church donated the labor to make extensive repairs to the outside. So you could say that they provided everything I've asked when I couldn't do it myself. I never been part of a community that would extend so much help.

    I've been very up front about my perceptions of the Divine Feminine. They don't turn me away for wearing my pentacle at communion. Indeed, no one's ever questioned my wearing it. Five years ago I was more beligerant, confrontive and outspoken as I fought my way to authenticity. These days, I'd like to think that I've learned that change doesn't come with loudness or with brashness. Change comes one person at a time, in those quite spaces where our souls connect. I actually have a huge opportinity to lend a face to the battle these Christians fight in my name. As the Anglican church threatens to split from the Americans over the gay issue, this congregation supports the rights of the GLBTQ community. Despite our Bishop's position, our rectors have taken a liberal stand in an extremely conservative diocese.

  3. Dreamweaver,
    I read this post partly earlier today, but was chatting with Megs at the same time and wanted to be able to focus on it when I read it...which I now have. First I don't know if I should be posting at all tonight. For one thing it is late..and the filters are down. And there's another reason, but ask Cameron about that. But I decided to anyway. And I'm glad I waited, as your response hits on many of the things I wished to say.

    There are two ways to change the world. One is through violent upheaval, which is rarely good for anyone. But those who say violence never changed anything are dead wrong....and many are just dead.

    The other way is what you alluded to in your final paragraph. Making change one person at a time. By continuing to attend and be who you are...including holding hands, arms around each other... and dare I suggest... kissing! This way over time the entire congregation sees you as just another couple. Will they be bothered? Yes, some will. Many will adjust as they get to know you AS A COUPLE, and their views will slowly alter over time. Some will never change...too many deep seated bias' handed down as a silent legacy (Yes, that was on purpose).

    But many will change...and their children will change. And their friends will change when they start talking about you, not as a lesbian couple, but as a loving caring, involved couple. Many will change...some will not. But the majority will slowly change.

    I'm 53.5, I've seen the slow progression. When I grew up gay was someone in San Fransisco prancing around who liked men. We didn't have any in our community of course...grin. And GID? Trans? These words weren't even spoken, let alone thought about.

    But times have changed. TV has news stories about gay lesbian, and yes trans people on an almost daily basis. And the attacking of a gay or trans person isn't swept under the rug anymore...( Newspapers and magazines? The same. That someone is gay is only a small part of who they are now rather than defining them. And there are those in the community (you know how I love that word) who complain because it's not as much of a headline (why have an OUT magazine if everyone is just who they are?) when someone is gay.....or maybe even transgendered? Not there yet, but the Chaz Bono story dropped off the radar very wasn't as much an issue as some thought it would be. We make progress. Slowly. And sometimes so slowly that we don't even notice it.

    I applaud your decision to support as they support you. To teach by example. To be the best person you can be, and be judged by that rather than some seemingly arbitrary label. Someone once put it far better and shorter than I can or ever could (yes, long winded is a trait).

    Mahatma Gandhi - "Be the change you want to see in the world."

    Be well and safe,


  4. Too bad there isn't a Metropolitan Community Church near you. Then you could participate in Christian community and be completely and openly gay.

  5. Hi - Cameron here - Dreamweaver's partner. There actually IS one in the city near us, but it is a bit of a political soap opera and I at least have never felt comfortable there which is sad. Besides which, if we were at an MCC church, would our current church have the opportunity to encounter the GLBT culture like this and possibly grow and transform? I think we may be needed where we are. Will be interested in what Dreamweaver says. Thanks for the post! Always good to hear from you...