Thursday, August 13, 2009

LGBT Spirituality and Church attendance

A recent article appearred in Politics Daily and is referenced below:

"Why Gay Guys Are Churchier Than Their Straight Brethren"

The article finds from research done that LGBT persons have a very high rate of Church life and practice despite long held stereotypes to the contrary. As a priest and pastor of a church that is inclusive, the findings do not surprise me as our most active and dedicated parish members are, by a majority, LGBT persons.

As my spiritual director once taught me, the spirituality of LGBT persons is deeply rooted in the desert and Exodus experience: A faithful God walking with us and leading us through a wilderness requiring of us deep trust, faith, and hope. From this faith, God's love can be experienced in a transforming way.

"One is that gays and lesbians are drawn to ministering to others as a result of their own experience, and that the Christian journey of forgiveness and redemption and acceptance resonates deeply with them. "One reason that homosexuals are drawn to service in the church is that many of these people have been wounded themselves. They know what it's like to feel broken, and they want to help others in whatever way they are hurting," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, who knows gays and lesbians who work in ministry despite the fact that they cannot openly identify as homosexual. "The Christian paradigm of the scapegoat -- the marginalized one, the one who suffers unjustly -- is quite powerful, especially for gay people."

Also as a formation director, I can testify to the threefold calling of all: the call to be, to live, to do. LGBT persons are confronted like no other group to really discern the first question that makes the others possible: Who am I?/How did God create me?/Why did God create me this way? Only then can one really answer: how am I to live my life and what am I to do with it?

"In a similar vein, others cite Christian de la Huerta's powerful book on gay religiosity, "Coming Out Spiritually," and his argument that gay people are, among other things, forced to mediate across the gap between their sexuality and spirituality, a divide straight Christians do not have to negotiate. So that makes LGBT people especially adept at helping others navigate a world of binaries, in particular the frontier between the physical and spiritual worlds.

Moreover, the process of coming out as a homosexual is often seen as analogous to the Christian pilgrimage of self-discovery and acceptance. "I have a theory that once you discern one call -- that God has created you to be gay -- that you are more adept at understanding God's call in other ways, as into ministry," said Kansfield."

Perhaps something for all congregations to consider is the vast riches that are there waiting to be fully appreciated in their LGBT brothers and sisters to make their communities more alive in worship, deeper rooted in integrity and faith, and grerater sharing in charity.