I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2014. Proper doctors and proper treatment have given me a pretty good chance of beating this disease but there seemed to be an emptiness in my support system. I wanted to start going to church. I wanted a "church family." I basically wanted someplace to go where I could blend in and hear something else besides cancer talk. But church members don't come knocking at your front door. Right?
Two days after this thought occurred to me, a woman actually did come knocking at my door with a flyer describing a "supper" being sponsored by her church. It seemed like an "Ask and 'ye shall receive" type thing to me so I decided to check it out. Preconceived notions aside, I had a good time. They served spaghetti and salad with very little "Bible talk." I've always heard of a "praising church" but I hadn't been in one and was really surprised at the themes of love, happiness and the "father" God and His love for all of us, not the hateful old man "God" who was just waiting for us to screw up. I started going to this church every Sunday.
The small town church is idyllic and a few people I had known from high school attend there. "James" was the first male cheerleader our high school ever had--his wife and six kids attend as does "Belinda" who at age fourteen was swimming at the neighborhood pool when her "Kotex" decided to detach and float right along side her! Back then, we didn't know about tampons, pantiliners or why swimming when you were having your "monthly" was a good idea at all! "Reggie" and "Tina" were still together after marrying during their senior year and NOT because she was pregnant! Almost every Sunday it seems that someone else from the Class of 1980 re-appears though most of my high school memories don't!
At last Sunday's service, reality hit. The congregation stood up for opening prayer and as the assistant pastor was bringing his prayer to a close he said, "and may God remove the idea of gay marriage."
What the ****??!!
I raised my head and opened my eyes without thinking. Not only was this a surprise to hear, I didn't see the relevance. In all of the time I'd been attending, I hadn't heard anything but encouraging words and examples of how God loved "each and every one of us." Well, that includes gay people, right? God made them, too.
I was very disappointed and shouldn't have been so surprised but what did surprise me was the assistant pastor's unusual reason for opposing gay marriage. According to him, churches refusing to perform gay weddings would lose their tax-exempt status. So he was afraid the church would pay taxes? I began to wonder if I could continue going to this church with it's sudden anti-gay marriage stand. It may have always been their stand but this was the first time I'd heard any anti-gay remarks at all.
It reminded me of the times when closing prayer at Mass included requests for God to end abortion. The priest would use words like "sin" and "abomination" of abortion, some of the same words used to describe homosexuality now that I think of it. I'm pro-choice and pro-"who you love is who you love and it's none of my business--just be happy." Could I "agree to disagree" with this assistant pastor and keep attending? Ignore this assistant pastor and keep attending? Deep in my heart, I think he is wrong, he doesn't speak for the congregation and he may have just taken it upon himself to "enlighten some of the deacons about a potential money issue" if gay marriage is granted to the entire country by the Supreme Court.
I find a family-style comfort in this church and can't let one man make me stay home on Sundays. Besides, Gandhi reminds us that "the only thing wrong with Christianity, at times, is its Christians."