Faith, Family and God: Lesbian Partners Make Presbyterian History as Ministers

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bible_smBy Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—

Quakers, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Evangelical Lutherans, and members of the United Church of Christ are among the Christian denominations supporting marriage equality or blessing same-gender unions. The Reform Jewish Movement and Conservative Jewish Movement also support marriage equality, while Hindus and Buddhists have no settled position.

Recently, the Presbyterian Church (distinct from the Presbyterian Church of America) may have made Christian LGBTQ history when it ordained a lesbian married couple as ministers at the same service. The Presbyterian Church no longer defines marriage as between a man and woman, but between two people. It’s another example that faith, religion, and spirituality are not opposed to LGBTQ civil and human rights. [pullquote]The Presbyterian Church no longer defines marriage as between a man and woman, but between two people. It’s another example that faith, religion, and spirituality are not opposed to LGBTQ civil and human rights.[/pullquote]

No Christian denomination speaks exclusively for the Giver of Life. What sometimes sounds like condemnation from the Almighty is not. Instead, it’s judgment from Ethel Merman-like voices projecting spiritual insecurities with the confidence to speak for God (defined gender neutral).

Kaci and Holly Clark-Porter met in Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Both had divorced their husbands and were on a spiritual journey. In 2011, they married before moving to Delaware where Kaci became an associate pastor at First and Central Presbyterian Church. Although Holly is also a Presbyterian pastor, she ministers at a primarily gay church.

Among the things these religious leaders and trailblazers offer to God’s LGBTQ children is the credibility to speak with an institutional authority in a mainline Protestant church underscoring that no gay, queer, lesbian, searching, bisexual, or transgender person is rejected. You’re not a sinner. Pope Francis is wrong. Kaci and Holly also have credibility with those wrestling with LGBTQ rights who embrace “traditional values” and fear scripture is sacrificed on the altar of popular culture.

These women demonstrate by their love for God and one another that the Creator’s law doesn’t change, but our understanding of God does. It’s a point that can’t be underscored enough and one LGBTQ persons of faith need to make more often, especially to those adamantly opposed to marriage equality. No one is changing God’s law. No Christian denomination speaks exclusively for the Giver of Life. [pullquote]What sometimes sounds like condemnation from the Almighty is not. Instead, it’s judgment from Ethel Merman-like voices projecting spiritual insecurities with the confidence to speak for God (defined gender neutral). …No Christian denomination speaks exclusively for the Giver of Life. [/pullquote]

Instead, there is a spiritual maturity occurring where God’s creation is witnessing and experiencing revelation, or put another way, a clearer, greater understanding of something good and sacred. It requires courage to leave spiritual, emotional, and intellectual comfort zones, not unlike explorers journeying to the far reaches of the planet.

Both are dedicated to reading with LGBTQ Christians and open-minded parents, sometimes in coffee shops, some of the scriptural passages that seem condemning. The passages can be legitimately understood in an open and affirming manner, if put in context with the scriptural chapter and in a broader anthropological context. But to do so, you have to confront the unpleasant sounding passages too often used to condemn.

Collectively, all of us have the potential to change, and when we do, we contribute to the growth, learning, and journey forward where every sister and brother is included at the same circular, not rectangular, table for a fellowship meal. No child of the Creator, straight or LGBTQ, has a greater status than another at the fellowship table.

Kaci and Holly’s marriage and ordination is another example how everyone can be empowered by an unfolding universal law challenging us and society to be better today than yesterday through faith, or at the very least, by being mindful that we are spiritual beings in the extraordinary unfolding cosmos.

*Paul will offer a morning workshop June 16 on LGBTQ spirituality in Albany, NY at Capital Counseling (www.capitalcounseling.org). Call Jennifer at (518) 465-3813, ext. 117, for more information. Paul is an attorney, corporate chaplain, and seminary-trained priest.

 

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