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Saturday, May 21, 2011

View from South of the Border

In an excerpt from a blog posting, below, a PC(USA) woman minister tells of an oddly troubling experience she had. She was visiting a Mexican presbytery meeting for the day, at which a guest speaker from the Presbyterian Church of America made an hour-long presentation on why women should not be ordained to the ministry.

I don't expect that everyone reading this will draw the same theological conclusions she does, with respect to the current debate in our denomination about the ordination of GLBT people. I do think it's worthwhile, though, to reflect on the feelings she so eloquently puts into words:

"Unfortunately my Spanish is good enough that I caught pretty much all of the presentation, about how the speaker did not hate women – 'I love my wife and my daughters' – but that he was simply trying to obey the Bible, which 'clearly states that there are different roles for men and for women' and that was all he was asking of the men gathered....

But what struck me almost immediately and stayed with me throughout the duration of his presentation was how much it reminded me of something I had heard recently in my own presbytery, only there it was the ‘Biblical case against the ordination of homosexuals’ rather than the ‘Biblical case against the ordination of women.’ As I sat in that Baja church (called 'Dios es Amor' or 'God is Love') listening, I couldn’t help but feel that I was in some sort of odd time/space warp between their presbytery meeting and my own recent presbytery meeting.

During that February gathering in Los Ranchos, Richard Mouw, who has had a key role as a reconciler between ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ in the ongoing debate/conversation regarding homosexuality, similarly made the point that he was not against homosexuals – 'I love homosexuals' – but that, at the end of the day, he had to be true to Scripture which makes the clear case against the ordination of homosexuals.

He spoke of his desire not to put down gay people or to hate them, but the greater conviction to uphold the authority of the Scripture. It was almost apologetic, in the 'I’m sorry' kind of way, as in 'I’m really sorry I have to believe this, but I just can’t do anything else and be true to who I am, who God is, and who God calls me to be'....

But sitting in that Baja church, listening, in Spanish, to an hour long presentation of why I, as a woman, was unworthy to be called by God as a minister, what I was struck by, in addition to how similar these arguments seemed to those used regarding ordination of homosexuals, was how painful it was to be the subject and focus of that argument being discussed around me....

In the distance, beyond the variety of dwelling structures, one can see the ‘border fence’ between the US and Mexico, cutting its path through the hills. One of the Mexican pastors saw me looking at it and said 'Otro lado esta muy cerca pero muy lejo' – more or less, 'the other side is so close and yet so far.'

The other side is so close, but yet so far....

The morning’s debate really had nothing directly to do with me, and yet it was still painful and uncomfortable to be, in a sense, its focus. As I was driving through the hills of northern Baja, along the Blvd 2000, I picked up my phone (while using my headset, of course) and called a gay minister friend of mine, apologizing to her for not really ever realizing how much she had to sit through as other people discussed whether or not God might call someone like her."

In these tender times, may we take to heart these words from The Presbyterian Hymnal:

Help us accept each other
As Christ accepted us;
Teach us as sister, brother,
Each person to embrace.
Be present, Lord, among us
And bring us to believe
We are ourselves accepted
And meant to love and live.

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