KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
Blog

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Destroying Lives to Maintain Prejudice

Irene 'Beth' Stroud, right, pauses during a news conference, Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, in Philadelphia, as her partner Chris Paige looks on. (AP)

Irene "Beth" Stroud, right, pauses during a news conference, Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, in Philadelphia, as her partner Chris Paige looks on. (AP)

My wise friend Barbara Merchant, a fellow copyeditor and Presbyterian who lives in Georgia, e‑mailed me in distress that the Rev. Irene "Beth" Stroud, a Methodist minister, has been defrocked for being a lesbian:

It makes me ill.

I slightly know one of the women who wrote a statement saying she felt bad about doing this. If she felt so bad about this, why did she go through with it?

Who did Jesus call to be his disciples? It wasn't the straight, celibate, economically sound folks. It was those he believed could best spread his message. How can Methodists sing "In Christ There Is No East or West" and defrock someone on the basis of sexual preference? Merely because someone is gay doesn't mean they are unworthy. A pedophile is a different matter. Look at the priests who preyed on those children. They were unworthy to serve.

I hate this.

I want to say to the committee, "Look at John 8:7–9":

[7] And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

[8] And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

[9] But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

[10] Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

Who is in a position to condemn? Not the members of that committee.

If you defrock the good albeit different from you, then congregations all over receive the message that God's word should only be proclaimed by a certain kind of person. What if we defrocked elderly ministers, saying only the young should preach? What kind of message does that send out?

God calls straights, gays, Jamaicans, Koreans, bow-legged, knock-kneed, hairy-chested, barely chested—all kinds of people—to share the important news that we are all loved and wanted by God. If that committee truly believed the words of the Gospel, the words in that hymn, then it would stand back and say, "Maybe it's time we made some changes in our rule book so that the minister standing behind the pulpit truly reflects who is in our congregation." We all belong. Not just the straight ones. Everyone. Jesus said so.

Barbara, I couldn't have said it any better.


Updated 1:25 a.m., November 3, 2005: You can read the Rev. Stroud's coming-out sermon, preached to her congregation at First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia on April 27, 2003, here.


Presbyterian

2 comments:

mokawanis said...

Barbara did say it very well. To defrock the minister soley on the basis of her sexual orientation speaks poorly of the church leadership. The standard should instead be: Is she a person of true faith? Does she have a heart of compassion for the people around her, regardless of their status in the world? Does she have the support of those she serves?
If the answer to those questions is yes, the people who brought about her dismissal have made a serious mistake.

Anonymous said...

egads.

Template created by Makeworthy Media