Thursday, June 26, 2008

PBS: documentary on Presbyterians and LGBT people

Tonight (June 26), MPT (a PBS station in Annapolis, MD) aired “Turning Points: Stories of Life and Change in the Church,” produced by the Covenant Network of Presbyterians in San Francisco. (Website is here).

The documentary intermixed the stories of four churches coming to terms with gay and lesbian members and clergy. Susie Smith, having gone to the United Church of Christ to minister, returns to her original North Anderson Covenant Presbyterian Church in Anderson, S.C. A family in Tacoma, WA deals with a gay son in the church. A lesbian and former police officer shoots herself in Atlanta, but recovers, bringing on a crisis of faith for her pastor. And the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, on the east side of downtown (not far from the Convention Center, as I remember from living there) demonstrates its ministry to gays and lesbians.

Everybody knows about the battles over homosexuality and the Bible, and certain specific passages in Leviticus and Romans, etc. One question is why this particular issue gets singled out the way it is, a point made in the film. One factor is the enormous emotional commitment that conventional marriage and family demands of many people. Couples may believe that the biological loyalty of their children is an essential part of how they experience marriage, and may feel that their lives are predicated on everyone else making the same commitments that they make. It is a way to make things seem “fair” to them in a psychological sense. It’s not just fidelity and support of children once one has kids that matters to them, it’s the idea that one has an obligation to help provide and support the next generation (and now the previous once) regardless of who one is or of what one “chooses.” But it seems very hard for people to say this.

On June 27, AP (in a story by Eric Gorski) reported that Presbyterian Church Assembly (in the US) dropped a policy that effectively banned (active) gay clergy, link here.

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