I am a Christian.
My name is Rob Walker. I am 32 years old, and I live in Toronto, ON.
I have the MDiv from Trinity College, Toronto, and am pursuing a call to ordained ministry and to Christian scholarship. I have friends and family who love me, who challenge me, who walk with me.
I grew up in the Alliance Church, was discipled by Pentecostals and the Vineyard, and find myself at home, spiritually and theologically, in the Anglican Church of Canada. I love the folks of the Metropolitan Community Churches.
Two friends of mine, respected voices in their denominations, have called me an “Evangelical progressive.”
I am a gay man.
Did I mention that I love Jesus?
I keep mentioning these two facts to people, because it usually causes what my generation and younger calls a WTF! moment (but I’ll leave the acronym unparsed, thanks!).
Recently, The Episcopal Church (TEC), the Anglican church body in the United States, approved the blessing of intended lifelong same-sex unions with official liturgical resources. They also removed any grounds for discrimination in lay positions or the process of ordination for transgender individuals. Lastly, they initiated a Church-wide study of marriage.
I have to say: I approve whole-heartedly and without reservations. This is because I believe these actions, though they are not approved of in the wider Anglican Church, are not contrary to solid Evangelical readings of Scripture; in fact, they allow people who have been unjustly persecuted and dismissed to stand on their own two feet, with the dignity that was always theirs as human beings made in the image of God. They can stand with the rest of us who have sinned, who need Jesus’ liberation, who have received the transforming Holy Spirit, and who expect with all creation the renewal of all things in Christ at the Last Day and the Resurrection of the Body.
But most people in the Anglican Communion, indeed the Christian tradition, don’t see it this way. Hence the statement of deputies from somewhere like South Carolina, who believe that TEC’s decisions are “unbiblical, unchristian, unanglican, and unseemly.” Hence the WTF moment for conservatiives. And there’s a WTF moment for my secular friends, too: “Why do you stay in a tradition that fights so hard against your recognition?”
Did I mention I love Jesus? Did I mention I want to love Jesus? Did I mention he’s the most beautiful Man I’ve ever known? He is the truest and most faithful joy of my life. None like him; no one at all.
My confidence in Jesus doesn’t mean I have no questions. It bothers me a lot that much of my tradition doesn’t have obvious and positive things to say about my life. I have the same doubts and fears about vocation and ordinary Christian living as everyone else, perhaps exacerbated, a little bit, by my anticipation of an unfair level of scrutiny whenever I speak as a gay man and a Christian at the same time. When “wrestling” with the voices around me, some of them divine, some of them human, some of them demonic, I remember the words of Martin Luther during his times of trial: “I have been baptised!”
Please, gentle reader, don’t think I write this smile-less-ly, or without any joy. But sometimes I get tired. Sometimes, it’s all I can do to stand. With Jesus, I think. Right here.
Martin Luther, again: “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me! Amen.”