Part of a 7 week course called "Sense and Sensuality" by Rev. Gary Blobaum
Mark had lived with his same-sex partner for ten years when he was diagnosed with cancer. I was Mark’s hospice chaplain. He talked with me about his homosexuality. I didn’t say much. I listened.
On my third or fourth visit, Mark handed me a letter. It was from his uncle. The letter begged Mark to repent. “You are on the path to hell,” Mark’s uncle had written.
“Do you think I will go to hell?” asked Mark.
“No,” I said. “You are not going to hell.”
I paused. What should I say? Should I give him the answer now current in the ELCA? Should I tell him, “Mark, it is obvious God has blessed you and Bill over the past ten years. Your relationship has been a blessing to you as well as to others. You can’t repent of a blessing!”
But Mark had invited me to be his pastor, someone willing to speak the truth, someone who interprets the Word of God but does not make it up, someone who says a difficult word and counts on God to fill it with grace.
I said, “You are not going to hell because you are forgiven.”
He sighed with relief. Over the months we read scripture together and prayed. He was preparing to stand before God on Judgment Day. Sometimes I think the ELCA no longer believes in Judgment Day. Sometimes I think the ELCA no longer believes hell is a possibility for each and every one of us.
But I do. The idea that God blesses same-sex sexuality gives hope to gays and lesbians. But I think it is a false hope. I think it is a replacement for real hope: the cross of Jesus Christ.
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