Anyone who knows me knows that I am an uncompromising practitioner of full inclusion of LGBT people in the sacramental life of the Christian community, including marriage and ordination. (Practitioner, not advocate, as we are doing it, not just talking about it.) There are many aspects of this complex issue, all worthy of discussion. But I think the best understanding of the experience of gay people in the church comes from listening to the words of our sisters and brothers.
The following was written by a gay high school senior who has grown up in a traditional church. It is shared here with his permission. It speaks well of the pain, conflict, and fear found in the lives of many who have been marginalized by the church, for whatever reason. The reference is to the story of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10. Pull out your Bible and look it up – it is a horrible tale. Nadab and Abihu are priests who bring illicit fire before God, and in return are toasted alive by the Divine.
Nadab and Abihu
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
“I have come to set fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.”
Our kinsmen, all the house of Israel, weep for our destruction, our death amidst the flames kindled by the Lord.
It is true, we were guilty; we offered illicit fire which he had not commanded, but we had no other fire to offer.
We knew the Lord was a devouring fire, and we had seen his glory blaze from on high, but we did not know the flames were so hot.
Fire came out from before the Lord and our hearts seemed to burn within us, our bodies melted like wax.
The flames devoured us, and so we died in the presence of the Lord our God.
O House of Israel, weep for us and for yourselves, for fire must always be kept burning on the altar, and yet the only fire you have to bring may be the fire that destroys you.
It is my prayer that we can lead the Nadabs and Abihus of our present day to the altar, beyond all servile fear, and rejoice with them in finding that the offering they bring not only does not destroy them, but is richly blessed by God.