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'I am Bi'


I have spent some of this week drafting a chapter for a book on bisexuality. The invitation to write came from a friend of ours tasked with producing a thoughtful and speedy response to a specific and volatile situation emerging in the church in another European country. Simply stated, a pastor acknowledged during his sermon on honesty that he is bi. By all accounts it was just a brief reference, in no way polemical, but it was enough to set the hares running.


This declaration is a kind of ‘Marmite’ event in a relatively conservative Christian community. Similarities with Brexit in the UK. I don’t know the local church community in question but it is not difficult to anticipate the likely reactions. There will be those who see a pastor saying something like this as yet another erosion of Christian values. They will argue that it needs to be confronted directly. That ‘the’ Christian view needs to be clearly stated.


Then there will be many others who regard this primarily as a matter of pastoral care. They will know that the pastor is human, and that he and the pastoral family will need support in the face of the many-pronged hostility which is bound to come their way. In spite of the fact that the pastor neither chose to have these feelings nor acted upon them.


I am no expert on bi-sexuality and only agreed to write if I could produce a sort of stream of consciousness. Having secured the editor’s agreement, I simply sat and wrote whatever came. And it came! Mostly in the form of questions.


Was it wise for the pastor to go public even if only briefly? Could he not just continue to fly below the radar? Did he not realise that this would have a divisive effect on his church, his circles of friends and the larger community? Will there be any effects on the children of the community? Does the individual matter more than the community? We can show ourselves sympathetic but is this not a slippery slope?


And then the stream flowing in the opposite direction. As a Christian can I ever require another human being not to tell the truth about who they are and to behave on the outside differently from what they believe themselves to be on the inside? Should the church not be above all, an honest and welcoming community? Is this whole sexuality issue not largely a tangled matter of genetics, hormones, environment? Is it not that body chemistry is a bit of a lottery and, as a straight man, I ‘got lucky’ and was spared this inner turmoil? I haven't had to carry the opprobrium that this person carries - will he not need help carrying the burden now thrust upon him?


And the questions kept coming and coming. Rather uncomfortably I began to find that it was I who was being interrogated. Do I really understand the plights of people on the margins like this? Where is my gut instinct on this when all the nuances have been removed? As a scholar in this area, would I be willing to go public in defence of this man and those like him if that was my conviction?


These questions were accompanied by a parade of emotions. Confusion, sympathy, fear, pity, anger, admiration. I like to think of myself as open. Not judgemental. But I did find myself rushing to some judgements. And I did not know where these judgements would finally settle. I was not quite sure where I stood. I have done a lot of work on the ethics of sexuality and thought at my age I had developed a fairly stable set of convictions but.... in this particular case, they were being challenged again. I was struggling.


I believe that Christianity calls for unconditional loving compassion towards our fellow human beings. I also know that radical Christianity has always swum against the cultural stream.

So my stream of consciousness chapter is very much a work in progress. I must think and listen. If any of our readers has something that they think I should listen to, I am ready to hear. I am struggling with this…more than I expected.


The last line of the draft I have written is a prayer for me and for all Christians involved in this debate: ‘Lord, have mercy on me, on us, as we sing our ‘broken hallelujahs’.


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tabithaabel
tabithaabel
2023. ápr. 18.

We don't know the reasons behind why this pastor spoke up at this moment, but you can be sure that secrecy was a heavy burden on top of his reality. We should not confuse the fact that a person stating that they have an attraction of any "weird" kind, is not the same as acting on it. Should he be promoting the lifestyle, I could see why people would get upset, but stating the fact that he is bisexual shows guts and honesty. God created Him and died for him just like for anyone else. However...I believe he might need to step down because the church's attitude will wear him down and the head honchos will be head hunters for…

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Claude Lombart
Claude Lombart
2023. ápr. 15.

Like you, Mike, I too have a plethora of unanswered questions. For instance, "Why would a pastor in regular standing, arguably knowledgable about policies and practices of 7th day Adventism, worl-wide, decide to go public with his bi-nature?" If he had kept it to himself, nobody would have known and he could have gone on with his pastoral role. One wonders, amongst other things, if he felt so heavily weighed down that this was his cry for help. A burdened shared is one halved. It is however unethical for a pastor to unburden him/herself on a congregation. A heavy burden not alleviated may lead to depression and suicidal ideation. Maybe he wanted his congregation to help him carry the load…

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Mike and Helen
2023. ápr. 15.
Válasz címzettje:

Claude - thank you for responding with compassion. It would be easy - and lazy - to rush to judgement about this. I do not know the answers to most of your questions. But I do know this and it helps to fill out what is a complex picture. The pastor sought guidance before preaching from his local church board, his conference committee and from the union and they did not seek to dissuade him. From my knowledge of them the German leaders are thoughtful and courageous. It is very important for a church which says so much about truth to speak also about honesty. This we fail to do so often and so we unknowingly encourage people to hid…

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