I have officiated at 11 weddings thus far. I have good memories from each of them and I look forward to being a part of many wedding ceremonies in the future. Of course each time I officiate at a wedding my heart aches. That’s because I look out and see people who are single and who long to have a partner, people who are single and who wish others would stop assuming there is something wrong with them, people who have had their hearts broken and stomped on or worse, people who wonder if they will ever have the chance to be married, people who are divorced (sometimes 2, 3, 4 times) and people who are denied the opportunity to stand with their beloved, before a community and before God, because of their sexual orientation.
So in between the smiles, the beauty, the blessings, the sacredness of the services I have attended and led, my heart often aches. I know I’m not alone.
My heart aches because so many of us have questions, uncertainty and pain when it comes to past and current relationships. Many of us have regrets, shame and trauma having to do with what has been done to our bodies, or what we have chosen to do with our bodies, or how or whom we have been denied.
No matter how we define our sexuality or our relationship status, we all wonder at times, “Are we alright?” We often wonder whether we are living out our sexuality in healthy ways, in ways that don’t degrade or exploit ourselves and others.
I once attended a sexuality and faith workshop in Lawrence, KS. In preparation for that workshop, participants were asked to reflect on the following questions:
- When did you realize that you were a sexual being?
- What did it mean to be a boy/girl/child in your family?
- How did your parents or caregivers tell you about your sexuality?
- How and when did you discover your sexual orientation?
- If you have had negative or violent experiences, how have you dealt with them?
- How do they currently affect your view of the world?
We were told by the leaders that if we didn’t feel comfortable answering these questions, that we probably wouldn’t be ready for this workshop.
I have since wondered what it would be like if we, who proclaim to be Jesus followers, would spend more time with these questions. What if only those who have spent time with these questions were allowed to speak? And what if I made these questions part of future pre-marital counseling sessions? And finally, what if, before reading and reacting to the following Rainbow resolution, you spent time with these questions?
This resolution along with this TEXAS presentation was offered to the delegate body of Western District Conference.
I stand by what I told the delegates: I’m grateful to be a member of a congregation that is working patiently and persistently toward greater inclusion and justice. My aching heart has found a community to work with as we seek healing and wholeness.
I’m not suggesting that this resolution is all right, or that we are always right. I do hope and trust that it is a step in the right direction. God, who called creation more than alright, help us all.
Drawing by Jesse Graber