Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bunny Baptisms and Homosexuality

Worship class on Friday was hilarious. We were talking about baptism, so a good chunk of our time was devoted to practicing the Methodist baptismal rite on Amy May Wabbit, a stuffed bunny our professor brought in. It was funny but also practical--my dad commented that no one ever showed him how to do a baptism, and I hadn't realized how much the idea intimidated me until I found myself steadfastly refusing to volunteer to act out Amy May's baptism.

There was one part of the class discussion that bothered me. One of my classmates asked a question (which in and of itself was not bad) about whether the United Methodist Church had any official stance on baptizing, say, a gay couple's adopted child. Fair enough, since the UMC doesn't allow the ordination of homosexuals; but there's nothing barring membership. "Baptize the dang kid" was my response.

What bothered me was how long and in what direction this conversation went. Another classmate wanted to talk about how to be sensitive to congregation members who might be offended at seeing a gay couple at the front of the church, and how to avoid putting a gay couple in a potentially harmful situation. My thoughts are, if the couple doesn't want to be outed, they won't stand up in front of the church together (which, especially if it becomes a deterrent to having your child baptized, is a damn shame). And I understand the desire not to give the homophobes in the congregation (because every church has them, their voices need to be heard, and there are varying degrees of homophobia) a reason to come out and say hurtful things. But my response is still "Baptize the dang kid."

The next thing I knew, we were talking about how baptismal vows, especially in the case of infant baptism, put the responsibility on the parents and should be taken very seriously. When having a child baptized, the parents promise to raise their child in the faith, to be an example, etc. Someone brought up the point that if the parents are clearly not living in a way that is congruous with those vows, that's problematic. I absolutely agree with that statement, and we talked some about how to do education and preparation for baptism within a church. My problem was the assumption that a gay couple isn't living in a way that aligns with the baptismal vows.

I've said before that I don't know how to tease out the theological arguments for and against homosexuality, and I honestly don't care at this point. All I know is that there are people I love and respect who are gay, and I can't fathom excluding them from the church in any way. And if we're talking about setting an example, there are plenty of gay couples I know who are far better paradigms of love and commitment than many heterosexual couples. The institution of marriage has been cheapened in this country, but not by same-sex unions. And if baptism isn't being taken seriously in the church, we all bear the responsibility for that, especially pastors who have before them the challenging but crucial task of educating their parishioners.

3 comments:

Robert Fischer said...

"Someone brought up the point that if the parents are clearly not living in a way that is congruous with those vows, that's problematic."

No, it's not. Nobody is living up to their baptismal vow. We all fail to live into Christ.

What drives me crazy is how homosexuality-making the false presumption for the moment that it is a sin-is uniquely pulled out as being the one sin that trumps anything else.

I know pastors who cheated on their wives and got divorced. Not once was the idea of defrocking even considered. I know pastors who have lied, who don't keep the Sabbath, who abused their congregants and their authority. No defrocking. And that's the ordained clergy.

Given that's our take on clergy, the fact that someone is even humoring the idea that people cannot even be *members* of the church, and that their child may not be eligible to be committed into the faith....

Well, it's just horrid.

Sarah said...

I am totally on board with the frustration of pulling out homosexuality as the sin of all sins. The fact that Rush Limbaugh is on his 4th marriage is a sad irony. I have a gay friend who has said he doesn't even care to have the right to marry, because his heterosexual brother's multiple marriages have completely cheapened the institution for him.

It's a hard line to walk (setting aside the question of homosexuality for a moment) with the whole "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Because that is absolutely true, but the church has to have some standard of discipline, doesn't it? I mean, if you had a know adulterer wanting their child baptized, wouldn't you want to take them to task about their sin before they entered into that sacrament on behalf of their child? (Again, this is not in reference to homosexuality.) Of course, the question then is, how does the church maintain a standard of discipleship and accountability while also remaining welcoming and forgiving? We absolutely need to keep the reality of common sin before us as a source of humility and to temper our judgments and actions, but we also have to be willing and able to hold each other accountable, and to be held accountable...of course, this presumes an established relationship of trust, and I'd wager the vast majority of people opposed to the inclusion of homosexuals in the church do not have a close relationship with a gay person (or at least none of which they are aware).

Sorry to ramble... :)

Robert Fischer said...

Yeah, if someone is in a state of sin, that's something we should really be dealing with as a church community. But why would you ever want to prevent a child from being drawn into and supported by the Christian community? This is especially true if their parent is an unrepentant sinner.

In fact, would you even prevent the child from partaking in the Christian community if they weren't baptized? And if not, what's the point of the rite of baptism?

Along that line, isn't the communal confession in the front of the liturgy supposed to take care of everyone's sin before things really get going? Isn't that why there's that line about the "new boldness" in the Word and Table 2 ritual? If so, then the whole question is kinda moot, because while the person may be in a state of sin before and may be in a state of sin later, they're apparently golden at the moment.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bunny Baptisms and Homosexuality

Worship class on Friday was hilarious. We were talking about baptism, so a good chunk of our time was devoted to practicing the Methodist baptismal rite on Amy May Wabbit, a stuffed bunny our professor brought in. It was funny but also practical--my dad commented that no one ever showed him how to do a baptism, and I hadn't realized how much the idea intimidated me until I found myself steadfastly refusing to volunteer to act out Amy May's baptism.

There was one part of the class discussion that bothered me. One of my classmates asked a question (which in and of itself was not bad) about whether the United Methodist Church had any official stance on baptizing, say, a gay couple's adopted child. Fair enough, since the UMC doesn't allow the ordination of homosexuals; but there's nothing barring membership. "Baptize the dang kid" was my response.

What bothered me was how long and in what direction this conversation went. Another classmate wanted to talk about how to be sensitive to congregation members who might be offended at seeing a gay couple at the front of the church, and how to avoid putting a gay couple in a potentially harmful situation. My thoughts are, if the couple doesn't want to be outed, they won't stand up in front of the church together (which, especially if it becomes a deterrent to having your child baptized, is a damn shame). And I understand the desire not to give the homophobes in the congregation (because every church has them, their voices need to be heard, and there are varying degrees of homophobia) a reason to come out and say hurtful things. But my response is still "Baptize the dang kid."

The next thing I knew, we were talking about how baptismal vows, especially in the case of infant baptism, put the responsibility on the parents and should be taken very seriously. When having a child baptized, the parents promise to raise their child in the faith, to be an example, etc. Someone brought up the point that if the parents are clearly not living in a way that is congruous with those vows, that's problematic. I absolutely agree with that statement, and we talked some about how to do education and preparation for baptism within a church. My problem was the assumption that a gay couple isn't living in a way that aligns with the baptismal vows.

I've said before that I don't know how to tease out the theological arguments for and against homosexuality, and I honestly don't care at this point. All I know is that there are people I love and respect who are gay, and I can't fathom excluding them from the church in any way. And if we're talking about setting an example, there are plenty of gay couples I know who are far better paradigms of love and commitment than many heterosexual couples. The institution of marriage has been cheapened in this country, but not by same-sex unions. And if baptism isn't being taken seriously in the church, we all bear the responsibility for that, especially pastors who have before them the challenging but crucial task of educating their parishioners.

3 comments:

Robert Fischer said...

"Someone brought up the point that if the parents are clearly not living in a way that is congruous with those vows, that's problematic."

No, it's not. Nobody is living up to their baptismal vow. We all fail to live into Christ.

What drives me crazy is how homosexuality-making the false presumption for the moment that it is a sin-is uniquely pulled out as being the one sin that trumps anything else.

I know pastors who cheated on their wives and got divorced. Not once was the idea of defrocking even considered. I know pastors who have lied, who don't keep the Sabbath, who abused their congregants and their authority. No defrocking. And that's the ordained clergy.

Given that's our take on clergy, the fact that someone is even humoring the idea that people cannot even be *members* of the church, and that their child may not be eligible to be committed into the faith....

Well, it's just horrid.

Sarah said...

I am totally on board with the frustration of pulling out homosexuality as the sin of all sins. The fact that Rush Limbaugh is on his 4th marriage is a sad irony. I have a gay friend who has said he doesn't even care to have the right to marry, because his heterosexual brother's multiple marriages have completely cheapened the institution for him.

It's a hard line to walk (setting aside the question of homosexuality for a moment) with the whole "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Because that is absolutely true, but the church has to have some standard of discipline, doesn't it? I mean, if you had a know adulterer wanting their child baptized, wouldn't you want to take them to task about their sin before they entered into that sacrament on behalf of their child? (Again, this is not in reference to homosexuality.) Of course, the question then is, how does the church maintain a standard of discipleship and accountability while also remaining welcoming and forgiving? We absolutely need to keep the reality of common sin before us as a source of humility and to temper our judgments and actions, but we also have to be willing and able to hold each other accountable, and to be held accountable...of course, this presumes an established relationship of trust, and I'd wager the vast majority of people opposed to the inclusion of homosexuals in the church do not have a close relationship with a gay person (or at least none of which they are aware).

Sorry to ramble... :)

Robert Fischer said...

Yeah, if someone is in a state of sin, that's something we should really be dealing with as a church community. But why would you ever want to prevent a child from being drawn into and supported by the Christian community? This is especially true if their parent is an unrepentant sinner.

In fact, would you even prevent the child from partaking in the Christian community if they weren't baptized? And if not, what's the point of the rite of baptism?

Along that line, isn't the communal confession in the front of the liturgy supposed to take care of everyone's sin before things really get going? Isn't that why there's that line about the "new boldness" in the Word and Table 2 ritual? If so, then the whole question is kinda moot, because while the person may be in a state of sin before and may be in a state of sin later, they're apparently golden at the moment.

 

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