Monday, July 6, 2015

Disappointment


I have always said that my church, and my preacher in particular,  stayed out of the politics of the world and focused on the love of Christians and how to be a better person, especially in the eyes of God.  With the recent SCOTUS decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, I feared that this situation would change, but I had hopes that my preacher would follow the congregations wishes that we do not discuss politics at church.  When it was not mentioned the Sunday after the decision, I hoped that I was correct, but it just took him a bit longer to come up with a “proper” response.  He claimed at the beginning of his sermon that he was going to be more positive than most Christian commentators.  Yet, he used the same old tripe and hypocritical inaccuracies that so many have used in the past.

I will discuss these points in another post, but I will give a summary of what he said.  He claimed that God has always remained the same and has never wavered in his commandments. He used the Leviticus, Romans, and Corinthians verses often used by those condemning gay people, even though they take them out of context.  And one thing that he did that I found particularly loathsome was that while he always uses the King James Version of the Bible in every sermon I’ve ever heard him preach, he used a modern translation that uses the word homosexuality incorrectly.  The Bible would have never used the word homosexuality because it wasn’t a word until the 19th century, nor would it have been used because there wasn’t an ancient concept of homosexuality.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by his belief on homosexuality, but he has never mentioned it in the pulpit.  I have always felt that it is a political question of those who fear their own loss of their version of moral superiority, but it is not a biblical interpretation of morality.  When you must pick and choose verses of the Bible and translations and ignore others that don’t suit your argument, then you are not following the will of God.  I have rarely ever left church angry; I usually leave with a sense of peace.  However, yesterday, I left church furious,  and I felt betrayed.

It seems that far too often people that I have put my faith in have turned untrustworthy.  For example, I believed in what my former headmaster had as plans for the school.  When others disagreed, I kept my belief that he was making the school a better place.  When he said that academics would always come before athletics, I believed him.  Then I was fired and replaced with a coach who did not have the credentials I had for teaching history.  Now , my minister has caused me to lose my respect of him.  When many people spread rumors and insinuations about his fidelity in his marriage and his business ethics, I had always taken up for him, and I never believed the allegations.  I still don’t, but I always said that no matter what people believed about him, he has been there for my family and is a truly excellent preacher.  He teaches about how to be better people, and he’s always used the Bible to back his beliefs without having to resort to word trickery.  Now I have lost my faith and respect for him.  I felt like both of these men betrayed me.  

I shouldn’t have been as upset as I was, I should have known it was coming, but when it did, it angered me. I always thought better of my preacher than that.  I guess I put too much faith in people.  Even more of an incentive to get out of this place, but I fear people who disappoint others is everywhere you go.

15 comments:

Blobby said...

actually, you should have gotten up and walked out in the middle of his "sermon".

Joe said...

I should have but I honestly didn't want to make a scene. I know that sometimes that's what it takes, but for me, more often politeness wins out.

Susan said...

I agree with both comments.

Joe, how ironic that yesterday's post was about Faith in God and here you are today talking about "losing faith in people" or at least another person. I think, though, your title today is more accurate. You are terribly "disappointed" in your preacher, and perhaps a little in yourself too, for allowing yourself to be led astray again by the words of someone you should have been able to trust. And it absolutely does feel like a betrayal. We've all been there and it can be devastating. You held him up and hoped he would continue to stay above the rest, and in the end it was not to be.

But don't let this make you lose faith in people in general. No matter where you go there will be good and bad alike. Unfortunately that is the way of things. I am so sorry for what has to feel also like a huge loss, Joe. Will you continue going to this church or are you undecided what to do?

Michael Dodd said...

"It is a truth universally acknowledged" that people will disappoint you, no matter where you go or who they are, pretty much.

When I was a young brother in the monastery, one of the young priests told me never to build my vocation on anyone else's vocation.

"If you do," he said, "they will disappoint you, and then where will you be?"

I also hate to make scenes, and when I left my community after thirty years of diligent service and later got married, I tried to do so with as little disruption and pain to THEM as possible. As it turned out, I still wound up being mistreated by people I had gone out of my way to safeguard.

Best of luck sorting all this out. I will add your preacher to my list of folks I think of today, asking that he be healed of all things, free from ill will and ill treatment, that his heart be opened and that he wake to the light of his true nature in the light of the God he intends to proclaim.

JiEL said...

OMG!

I'm not surprised that your congregation priest sermon decieved you...

As I always told you: don't mix up RELIGION and POLITICS...

More, so many people, priests and imams, take what is useful for them and their agenda anti-anything in the «HOLY» writings.

As you've experienced last Sunday, is the proof that they use the ones to forfill their «hatred» goals.

HATE isn't the message of any «HOLY» writings including the Bible, the Gospels and the Coran.

As long as people think that their ministers, priests, are «holy-men» they will be desapointed in someway..
So many priest are struggling withe their own sexuality and more...

Now, what is for you is to refocus on your own life and faith.

LOVE is the only LAW to follow which I do tend to achieve in my own life outside of any religious fanatism..

Must understand that ALL those «HOLY» writings were made centuries ago and, as you mentionned, even «homosexuality» wasn't in their way of life...

More, many men in those times DID have men to men contacts and it was OK in their point of view. Seems that our priests and imams aren't aware of..
Even the King David has a «BF» but no one today is putting it up because it would be too contreversial..
Not to mention men as «Alexander the Great» who did also have homosexual behavior which were NORMAL to them..

As an historian, you surely have more and many examples of those ancient way of life.

Cheer and hope you LOVE and HAPPYNESS..

John said...

Disappointment is difficult. The most difficult element of disappointment is acknowledging that your perception was wrong. It can be even more difficult when someone has led us to that perception, only to prove the opposite (like your headmaster did). I'm on the opposite end of a similar situation.

As a pastor, I was expected to address this topic and to take a strong "biblical" stand against same-sex marriage. I avoided the topic altogether after the Supreme Court ruling and some church members were disappointed in my treatment of the topic, because they had perceived me to be a conservative ideologue who would address the issue.

On the other hand, I questioned my integrity for not receiving the ruling as an opportunity to affirm LGBTQ individuals. But, many years ago, I had to come to terms with the fact that the majority of church-goers are anti-gay and they can no more change their beliefs than I can change my sexuality. They did not choose to be anti-gay bigots. They are persuaded that if they do not take a stand against homosexuality, then they cannot be a Christian. (I am hopeful that with the availability of college to everyone, these attitudes will die and be replaced with logic and reason, acceptance and tolerance, by way of education.)

You are in my prayers during this difficult time, Joe.

Buckeyein Richmond said...

Dear John,
Do you not realize that these people look up to you as The Professor looked up to his preacher? Do you not think that by avoiding your true feelings on LBGTQ issues, you disappointed everyone? Those who wanted you to spite the gays, and the gays who wanted you to stand up for them!!
You, yourself have some explaining to do.

John said...

BuckeyeinRichmond:

Sadly, I can say with confidence that there are very few - if any - members of the church who affirm LGBTQ Christians. And, I know there are no members of the deacon board who do so, and the deacons are my bosses and I respect them as such. Keep in mind that I pastor a church in Alabama in a very conservative denomination and I'm closeted for that reason.

While there was a dilemma for me (as I said above), I chose to stick to the lectionary and not address the topic at all for the same reason that I remain closeted in the church. The consequence for performing a same-sex ceremony is loss of ordination and I do not have the financial means to take a risk like going public with my opinion at the moment.

Thanks for inquiring. Grace to you.

JiEL said...

OMG!
John you're such a, I don't know how to say it in English, but you are missing some courage as the first christians did have in front of the lions in the Roman arenas..

I can understand your position BUT, you're betraying yourself and many of those who would wish you to defend those who need to be defended...

I'm sorry to say it but you make yourself an «hypocrite» by hiding who you really are.
I can understand also that living in that biggot State of Alabama, you can be afraid of coming out and stand against those who are «mainstream» and spit on gay and LGBTs....

But in not coming out and bravely stand up against them, you betray the others that could put some hope on you.

I'm not judging you but just telling you that there are better places to live and better places to LIVE FREE of the opinions of BIGGOTS...

Religion is not only being in front and PRAYING blind folded a God that we model to our own desires and goals...

REAL RELIGION is one of FREEDOM and LOVE...

I live in a Montréal, and we are free to live as we are..
No bad regards, no judgement, everybody is free to do what ever we want to.
Maybe not the moste ideal place in the world but we've got pass that way of thinking that RELIGION and all the biggots will not RULE our lives...

Sorry but I think you should travel away from your DEAR ALABAMA and see other places to take a back up view of other ways of living...

RELIGION is NOT ALL...

LIVE FREE and LOVE must be your ONLY religion.

Joe said...

Those of y'all who are saying John is wrong for not coming out and speaking against the bigotry and hatred do not understand the situation that people like he and I are in. He fears for his life and the loss of his family. I no longer fear for my job because I don't have one, but I do fear the loss of my family. I wish I could have the courage to stand up to these people, and I know John does too, but situations don not permit that at this time. It's hard to understand all the dynamics of another persons situation and we must be compassionate with all our fellow man. Booker T. Washington gave a famous speech at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition where he made the analogy of "cast your buckets where you are." It's a bit complicated to delve into that in a comment but his meaning was that sometimes you have to deal with the he situation you are dealt and sometimes that means staying where you are and working to change hearts and minds in the small ways you can. I think there is a major lesson in what John has said in his comment, and one day this week, I will discuss BTW's speech and it's meaning for closeted gay people in unfriendly territory.

JiEL said...

@ Joe,

I truly understand your situation but my text was to shake a bit your feelings..

From my point of view, I see USA struggling in many States about the LGBT situation and I find it so «ancient ways» of thinking today were there are so many opening minds in the world.

What I also mean is that «evolution» is no more in the mood for gays: «revolution» must go on in our «CIVILIZED» countries...

Isn't there that nice campain saying:" It gets better,..."

YES, It is getting better after coming out and being yourselves in front of everyone.

For sure, you'll loose some people in the way but you'll find MORE SINCERE friends and you'll see who are hypocrites and liars...

For sure, your situation and John's are delicate.
So was the first Christians in ancient Rome and see how now, Chriatianity is spreaded around the world.

To have the «courage» of opening to your community is not easy but never know how this could make the minds open more to diversity and acceptance.

Sure also, you jeopardize your financial situation and your social life but just think of those gay men that are beheaded and tortured in Islamic countries and you'll consider that your situation isn't that bad after all.

There is ALWAYS a way to go through a phase of your life and go toward the LIGHT.

I'm lucky to live in Canada and Montreal where we, gays, are not discrimated and more, we are part of the community and accepted.

I cannot suffer that in USA, in some States, gays aren't welcome and accepted.
As much as I comdamn the guns politic in your country seeing all the damage they do to innocent people.
As much as I cannot accept the still racism that is going on, even today, in many places in USA...

Yes, you have so much to achieve to gain EQUALITY and FREEDOM for ALL of USA people.

It's going to get better even in Alabama but you must work for it and, sometimes, suffer too...

Friendly yours from Montreal.
What you could call «Wonderland» of the gay life..

John said...

JiEL:

I understand and appreciate your concern regarding my situation. Unfortunately, your game plan is easier touted than implemented. I have no doubt that it looks plausible from beautiful Montreal, but, if you spent time in the American Southeast, you might find that progress doesn't come so easily here. I may be a hypocrite, but living my truth could mean losing my life. And, it would certainly mean losing both my family and my career.

My education and work experience are solely in ministry. Finding a life or career outside of the ministry would be difficult, if not impossible at the moment. I am exploring options that would allow me to live my truth. Most all options include pursuing another degree in another field and leaving the ministry, which will take time. It would be ideal to pastor an LGBTQ-affirming church, but those opportunities are few and far between, and, when those positions do become available, they go to ministers with far more pastoral experience than I. Your suggestion that I become a revolutionary is not realistic for me, but I appreciate your concern nonetheless.

At the moment, if I came out of the closet, or even came out in support of same-sex marriage in the religious or political context, I would no doubt lose my career and family. And, I'd be forced to start over from scratch. That might be an easy task in Canada, but not in America, where recovery from such a loss could take a decade or longer.

I am aware that my response was not ideal and that I missed an opportunity to cultivate progress, which is why I mentioned it. I was disappointed with my own response. Unfortunately, the time wasn't right for me. Thank you for your concern.

Peace

Jacki Perrette said...

If John wants to continue to be in a position of leadership, he must bide his time. What help will it be for his congregation if he makes a point of his beliefs and is ousted? He then loses all possibility of changing the opinions of his followers.

Sometimes it is necessary to use wisdom and work quietly to influence people. If you stand up and come out with force, you'll receive an equally forceful response...and if you are alone and others are in a group, their own resolve will be reaffirmed. They will overpower you and any future opportunity to influence them for good, will be taken away.

Lead by your example. Win people over by degrees. Wear gently away at their resistance. It's true, it won't be a dramatic turn of events and it will not be done quickly. Be a quiet force of love in the world. Sew seeds of love and acceptance where you can and be noble. Don't answer hate with hate.

JiEL said...

Dear John,

I must tell you that I experienced in 2001, as I went to South Carolina with my BF, the way people are in those so religious states.

Just going to a restaurant with my BF, we had a «gay» waiter that was looking so intensly to US that it was obvious he was envying us....
We had to be careful while we visited many places like Brookgreen Gardens and Charlotte, etc...

We went to a mass in a HUGE Church (parking lot as large as a choping center) filled to the top of so «Christianly» people and not to mention what we could hear on the radio of our car.. ALL religious talking and music too..

YES, USA in those places are FAR AWAY from what we have like life style here in Montréal and Province of Québec.

Must tell you that in the 60's, we had what we call the «Revolution Tranquile» (The Quiet Revolution) where religion and politic were seperated..
Also, the Church lost lot of influence and less and less people were attending the offices in churches..

The Catholic Church before the 60's was ruling every ones lives in lot of matter..
My own mother had issues with the parish priest that wanted her to get pregnant as soon as possible.. BUT my mom was sick and with my grand mother stood still infront of that priest...
My grand mother was a hell of a lady. No one could say no to her.. LOL!!


Hope you'll be able to continue your life and I agree with JackiPerrette that you
have to think of yourself first and give slowly the example to all around you...

LOVE is the only law I stand for..

HOPE you'll be happy too...

IF you come sometime in Montréal it could be nice to talk to you.

Cheers and be courageous.

Jay M. said...

Thus the primary reason that I avoid churches. I never fail to be disappointed. Save my primary church in WV. So far, so good, as infrequently as I get to attend.

Peace <3
Jay