Talking sexuality: Problematic phrase #4 (Yes, this is personal)By Joanna Harader
Problematic phrase #4: It’s not personal.
This phrase is problematic because it is simply not true.
In fact I heard this a lot at the recent Western District Conference assembly. Through the course of the assembly, I had an opportunity to talk and pray with many individuals from the congregation that proposed a resolution to suspend my ministerial credentials for officiating a same-sex covenant ceremony. These folks were nice to me, even friendly. Many of them assured me that the resolution was “nothing personal.”
My name was in the resolution document six times. If their resolution had passed, I would no longer be an ordained pastor in the Mennonite church. But it was nothing personal.
On one hand, I understand what they were saying. They don’t hate me. They did not propose the action because they wish me ill. This is a church matter. It is about accountability, about church authority, about a particular way of reading Scripture. It is about principles of righteousness and faithfulness and obedience. Nothing personal.
Except it is personal. Of course it is personal. My life would have been deeply affected if the resolution had passed.
In our ongoing discussions about the church and sexual minorities, I think we all need to give up the illusion that any of it is not personal. We need to admit that what we say and the policies we create deeply affect the lives of actual human beings.
If you say, “Homosexual activity is a sin,” that is personal. It is personal for every person who chooses to be in an intimate same-sex relationship. It is personal for the parents and siblings and friends of those people as well.
If you say, “It is God’s intention that sexual activity should be only between a man and a woman,” it means my friend Randy is no longer allowed to be a Mennonite pastor. It means my friend Sarah could not attend our denominational seminary. It means my friends Sheri and Megan and I face credential reviews for ministering to people in the way we believe God is calling us to minister. It is personal.
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