I’m going to tell you something I do not do very well. But, only if you will not tell the other mothers. Because I have listened to them talk and apparently I am the only one not very good at this. Deal?
I was twenty seven years old when I got married. I was not exactly old, but old enough that more of my friends were married than not. And the majority of my unmarried friends followed suit within the next few years. One of the things that has been interesting to me during the last eleven years since I made a lifelong covenant with my therapist is the various ways that romantic boys struggle to become the committed men that they say they will be when they launch into marriage. I am not talking about marital infidelity, but the ability to simply mature into a hard-working, supportive, and caring husband and father who places the correct priority on his wife and children.
Last week I participated in a symposium at Princeton Theological Seminary that sought to explore the issue of homosexuality in the Pentecostal church. The symposium potentially served as the genesis of a dialogue between Pentecostalism and the LGBT community. Only time will tell on that front. However, it certainly served as a catalyst for encouraging more dialogue about sexuality in general within Pentecostalism. Since posting my opening remarks from the symposium I have been asked by many for an update. So, what follows serves as a brief reflection on the symposium itself, and some of my thoughts on where we go from here.
Today I am participating in a Pentecostal Symposium at Princeton Theological Seminary organized by The Association of Charismatic and Theological Students (ACTS) organization of the school. The title of the symposium is Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Sexuality, Gender, and The Body in the Pentecostal Church. I am one of four panelist asked to speak in the first session: Homosexuality in the Pentecostal Church. Here are my opening remarks.
My Dear Children, Grandchildren & Great Grandchildren:
Today I turned ninety. I have been blessed with a long and fruitful life. Nothing brings me more pleasure than my four children, eleven grandchildren, and that precious great grandchild that came to us last year. I am so proud of each and everyone of you, and overwhelmed at the beauty of your families. But looking into the eyes of our newest addition has brought to me the realization that I may not get the opportunity to know very many from the next generation. That being the case, there are some things that I would like to pass along to you.
People do not often tell me about dreams that they have had, but when they do there is a pretty good chance that there is a tornado in it. I heard about someone’s tornado dream for the first time fourteen years ago. It was such a vivid and striking dream that it captured my imagination, but I had no idea that it would be the first of scores of such dreams reported to me. There has rarely been any prompting to tell such dreams, and really no context at all. I will simply find myself in a conversation where someone will suddenly say, “I had the strangest dream the other night.” I have no idea what to make of this phenomenon. However, it has had made me wonder just how common tornado dreams might be. I can rationalize an increase in tornado dreams since April 27th, 2011. But what about all of the ones prior to that sad day?
Someone once observed that church had become so focused on the performance of the preacher and worship leaders that the people attending had actually begun to believe that they were the audience in a worship service. Could that describe some church services that you have attended? Does it describe almost all of them? Well, that observation was made by Soren Kierkegaard in the 1850′s. I guess not much has changed in 150 years. Kierkegarrd believed that in corporate worship God was the audience, the congregation were the performers, and the service leaders were merely the prompters.I wrote last week about the need to prepare ourselves for corporate worship, but what about the actual performance of it?
In Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, the theme of land is prominent. This might be surprising at first glance, especially in a day where booming urban centers remind us that we can fit a lot of people into a relatively small piece of land. God chose Abraham and promised to turn his descendants into a great nation. He then promised Abraham land that would be given to that nation. In all of these promises God was not merely promising Israel physical space. He was promising them a place in this world. It is one thing to know that there is a space for you; it is another thing to know that there is a place for you.
It is a strange and sordid tale, which is precisely why it grabs my attention. It takes place in the messy context of tragedy and redemption, which is precisely what makes it so perfect. It is one of those stories that Muslim friends point to as proof that the Jewish and Christian scripture has been corrupted. It is one of those stories that Atheist friends point to as proof that even if God did exist no one would like him. It is the curious story of Onan. His part in the divine narrative covers all of three verses. Yet spiritual pilgrims have speculated about the significance of his actions for thousands of years. This is what we know about Onan from Genesis 38:8-10: