More On Pittsburgh Presbytery’s Meeting: How Can Mike and Tom Embrace?


Every morning I confess “I have sinned in thought, word and deed, by what I have done and by what I have left undone,” and I ponder for a bit how that is true in the past stretch of my life. I have been thinking a lot of all that happened at the Pittsburgh Presbytery special meeting to vote on 0-B, an amendment that would allow our GLBT sisters and brothers in faith to heed God’s call to ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) if they follow Jesus life and teachings. I have come to confess my sin of omission when we left unmarked the amazing juxtaposition in the Pro and Con statements of Mike and Tom. Something should have been said or prayed or wailed; to simply move on after they spoke on Saturday was a sin.

Both Mike and Tom are Elders in the Presbyterian Church, a distinctive ordained office in our Christian family with responsibilities for overseeing and leading the local congregation. Both must then be very faithful and respected members of their church. Both are fathers of gay sons.

One pleads for the church to recognize the mature palpable love that his son has for “the love of his life,” and the gifts his son could give to the church. He and his son know that the fencing of GLBT people from ordained office means that any presence or participation of his son in the church is suspect, tinged with unwelcome.

The other pleads for the church to maintain its requirement for ordained office of faithfulness in a marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness, telling of his beloved son who died of AIDS. He knows he will never see his son again. He is sure his son is in hell.

Both faithful Christians, both active Presbyterians, how could this be and how could Tom and Mike possibly embrace?

My sin, our sin, in the midst of our meeting was to continue on, without comment or prayer at this juncture, which so starkly and terribly placed before us the conundrum before the church. The God of love known in Jesus is testified to in Scripture; the God of judgment, also expressed by Jesus, is testified to in Scripture. We can argue all the day long about that — but arguing gets us no further along.

What does get us further is the compassion we can have for each other, that Mike and Tom can have for each other. The reason for that caring is less relevant than the feeling of it and the reaching out to embrace the other that arises from it.

Only God can dwell in that holy ground where we stood with Tom and Mike for a brief moment. When we wander there as we did on Saturday, our best response is to embrace. Next time, I will.

– Reverend Janet

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