The following is an email I sent into Holiness Today in reply to an article printed in the September/October 2011 issue. You can read the full text of the article here:
Dear Mr. David J. Felter, Editor-in-Chief:
I’m a long time subscriber and reader of Holiness Today.
I disagree with many of the points you made in your reply to the question. I would hope that your presence at the wedding would show your support to your friend, just like it would for your heterosexual friends. The very fact that we ask this question shows us, the Church of the Nazarene, how very little we know, and understand about homosexuals. The church, by policy and its members, treat homosexuals as second class members [of society]. Chances are the last wedding you went to both the bride and the groom ‘sinned’ at one point in their lives. But there were no hang ups in the crowd. The very asking of the question reveals there is bigotry in the Church. What better place, then that moment-at the same-sex wedding, would be a better opportunity to show them grace, dignity and holy love, all while reducing bigotry.
Also to the matter of heresy. Who are the heretics to you refer? All homosexuals? The homosexual-Christians in the Church? Or the Church that recognizes that homosexuals? I am not offended at being called a heretic. I am however offended that it was dropped so casually and lightly. This word has a very loaded history, with life and death consequences. A heresy in the early Church meant schism. I do not want to split off from the Church of the Nazarene at all; therefore, I am not a heretic. Please don’t burn me at the stake.
Further along in history we find it switches to mean “against orthodoxy”. You may have caught me there, I am anything but Orthodox. I’m a Nazarene after all, and we were begot by a long line of parent denominations. All thinking their kids were heretics. Everyone but the Roman Catholics are heretics. And even the Eastern Orthodox think both the Protestants and Roman Catholics are heretics. And to belabor the point more, the Jews think Christians are just a Jewish heresy anyway.
The established Church has also called women pastors heretics, and yet the Church of the Nazarene has always supported female pastors. So “He who is without Hersey…”
Let’s be very clear on this: homosexuality is not a heresy.
The Church of the Nazarene has NEVER issued a Manual Statement or a “Pastoral Perspective” saying homosexuality is heretical. And furthermore, we do not believe that other Christian Churches are heretics when their beliefs differ from ours. For example, we do not believe that those who speak in tongues are heretic just because we do not speak in tongues.
Homosexuality is a word that has shifted meaning over time too. So please, I ask you to update your dictionary, homosexuals are no more a threat to Christians, civilization, marriage, or the Church of the Nazarene than a gain of sand is to a tire on the road.
I may not have changed your mind, but I hope that I have shed some light on a subject that is dangerously under discussed.
-A Gay Nazarene
The Invisible Line
You aren’t really sure where that line is until you’ve crossed it. I hope I haven’t here with this letter. I am admittedly short-tempered. (It will be my downfall.) I know I should be “like a duck” and let it roll off me, as I was taught in Youth Group but it is hard for me to be silent when I read such an obvious examples of bigotry, and discrimination.
Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Maybe I misunderstood him. Maybe this wasn’t a battle worth picking. Maybe I should let more things go than I do. Maybe I sweated a small thing. I guess in the end it boils down to how I ‘pick my battles’ so to speak. If I was [too] rude, I apologize. But we [The Church of the Nazarene] have got to be very careful about the advice we give and think of the implications.
But this is the very thing that we are trying to eliminate. Is there going to be a question “Should I let my kids play with kids of same-sex couples at the park?” or “Should I tip my openly gay waiter at Applebee’s?” Very extreme, but you get the idea. At what point does it end? Who is supposed to speak out when the Church crosses the line?
Maybe my temper flared just a little higher than the Chick-Fil-A Spicy Chicken sandwich, because the question and Mr. Felter’s answer hit a little too close to home. I want to get married someday. I want all my family and friends to be there, and I want all my husband’s family and friends to be there too. Do the relationships I have with my Nazarene-friends and family members not supersede the rhetoric coming out from behind Nazarene pulpits? Again another example of when people put a face to the hate it makes it much harder for them. A fact I am preparing to deal with in the near future.
Maybe I did cross the line. My prayer is that my family and friends and, chiefly, the Holy Spirit will call me out when I do. Speaking the truth in love is a fine line to walk down, and I don’t want to fall off it. Maybe someday I’ll learn better what battles to pick. But maybe someday, and I hope soon, this whole issue will be over with because we as a Church have made the right call. (I’m starting to sound like Little Orphan Annie with all these ‘maybes.’) Below is the reply I got from Holiness Today.
Thank you for your letter to the editor and insights into the “Q & A” column in September/October.
We appreciate your feedback.
The Holiness Today Editorial Staff