what do I do

This is a very personal post. The Lambeth Commission issues its findings day-after-tomorrow, at 7:00 am Eastern Time. I have no idea what the report will suggest, but angst and worry are ever present. Not so much the kind that ties my stomach into knots, because I have learned that one hour of that kind of worry does not add anything to my life and wellbeing. All I can do is place my trust in my Lord and go forward, nevertheless, my gut still says that during the final moments I will not be ordained – and it speaks a bit louder now.
Of course, I am up writing this on a Saturday morning at 4:00 am, listening to the people going home after a night in the clubs (the seminary is surrounded by a few very large dance clubs and on Saturday and Sunday mornings around this time, the streets become very loud). Revilers are heading home. They will spend all night in clubs, but the Church no longer presents to them – anything. Anyway, here I am at 4:00 am writing about my angst before the report is issued.
I have been reluctant about this whole priest thing from the beginning. I was very up front with my Discernment Committee, my Vestry, my bishops, the Commission on Ministry, the Standing Committee, the Canon to the Ordinary, my psychological evaluator, and everyone I knew, that I really had no desire to be a priest. I began the discernment process because several priests in my diocese kept after me to consider seminary and the priesthood.
I knew very well that ordination was not something I desired while working in the Assemblies of God. Everyone told me I should be ordained. After all, I was doing pastoral work. I was burned by one church organization, and I had no desire for a repeat performance.
As I talked with close friends about all this, they agreed and affirmed my being a priest, being a pastor, doing that kind of work. After all, I lit up and become very passionate when I talked about my faith, God, the Church, and all the ramifications of such things. A few cautioned me, wondering whether I might be running away from life, or something else. They were generally lapsed Roman Catholics who saw too much of that kind of thing in their own priests. My former boss, Dean/V.P for Undergraduate Studies at Kent State where I worked for 9 years before seminary, of whom I have the greatest respect, wrote a fine recommendation for me, but said he thought it a great waste of my talents and abilities to go into the priesthood or church work.
One day at Kent while I was talking to a vivacious graduate student, I suddenly realized that my interest in her, at a base level, was not her academic education or even the realization of her goals (in good Student Development fashion), but it was her soul. It was a sudden and unexpected realization. One Sunday morning while the priests were getting the elements ready on the altar, as the choir sang, sitting in a pew watching, thinking, feeling the warmth of the sunlight streaming through the large, clear windows, I was struck by the feeling and the thought – “I can do that!”
The priestly conspiracy to get me off to seminary reached its apex when the bishop offered me a job at the diocesan office as a means to discerning whether church work and/or the priesthood might be the direction my life should go. It was a very good job, but I turned it down because after much prayer and discernment I felt it just wasnÂ’t the right time. Finally, I relented and agreed to go through the yearlong discernment process. I figured that if it is supposed to be about discernment, then it could only help me decide whether there might be something to all this encouragement.
I passed with flying colors and everyone, everyone, said that the Church really needs someone like me right now. After a year of discernment, prayer, and the prodding of lots of people, it seemed that I would be off to seminary, but it just did not feel right. I told my bishop I needed to wait another year, and he graciously consented – “Just let me know when you are ready and I will declare you a Postulant. I want you to write me Ember Day letters this coming year so I know what you are thinking.”
The process, from beginning to seminary, took four years. In the end, I went to seminary because I felt here was where God wanted me, not just because everyone kept saying I should. I am a reluctant Candidate for Holy Orders!
Then, the day before classes began, I met someone. The previous three years were very difficult, as were other periods in my life. I know what being single is like. I know what loneliness is, even though I had strong friendships, loved the people I worked with, etc. There is a fundamental difference in very close and good friends and someone with whom one can love and be loved. I have not been given the gift of singleness, even as Paul encourages us to live without encumbrances in singleness.
So, I was excited to start seminary, to be in New York, to begin this new chapter of my life. The last thing on my mind was getting into a relationship, despite what I just wrote above. Yet, this person appeared. We have been dating for two years now. Our relationship isnÂ’t as he would like it to be – I just donÂ’t have a lot of time. I told him from the beginning that I am here for a purpose and that he must understand that God always will be a first priority for me as a priest. I still don’t know whether he knows what he has gotten himself into, but I am so blessed.
Now, after six years of discernment, education, trial and tribulation, great joy, and Gene Robinson, it is quite difficult for gay people in relationships to find a “Cure,” a priestly position. What do I do if there is an agreement among the bishops of the Anglican Communion to stop all together, or hold off on ordaining gay people who are in relationships?
In eight months, I am to be ordained a transitional deacon, Lord willing. Many say that the Lord certainly is not willing. That is their opinion, but I stand before my God and am accountable to God alone.
What do I do, though, if such a recommendation, and then decision, comes down? What would happen if the Church told all aspirants that they could no longer have sexual relations with their wives or husbands? It wouldnÂ’t fly. Do I ask my partner to live in a relationship without sexual relations? That is a mighty tall request.
I may be confronted with making a profoundly unfair, unjust, and in my opinion unfounded, decision of ending a relationship, entering back into a loneliness that will only be compounded because of a profession known for loneliness, because the majority considers my relationship a profound sin and abomination. Or, do I forgo my ordination to the priesthood, my calling, for the sake of a relationship?
Despite what anti-gay forces propagate as GodÂ’s will, I do not find in Scripture GodÂ’s forbidding of same-sex relationships that are mutual, adult, loving, and monogamous. Scripture says nothing of such relationships. Our culture and society, throughout history, have certainly condemned such relationships, until more recently as attitudes change. Most in the Church cannot handle such change right now. It will, of course, in the same way that it changed with society to support inter-racial marriage, equality for minorities and woman, etc.
What do I do until that time? What do I do if they say, “ordination or relationship, you cannot have both!” I know my only recourse is my Father in Heavan.

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