Thanks to everyone for getting Week 2 conversations going. I am having some conflicted reactions to the sermon about taking off masks.

Bert’s sermon about taking off masks draws a parallel between a challenge that is unique to the LGBTQ community and a challenge that is common to all people trying to live authentically in the world. However, I think we have to be cautious in drawing this parallel. Encouraging LGBTQ individuals to take off masks can be a dangerous thing. Some LGBTQ people have lost a lot more than rejection–including their lives. I believe the injunction for people to take off their masks must be balanced by creating an environment where it is safe for people to do so.

I have previously read that passage about Peter much like Bert’s sermon presents it on page 68–Peter, the big, bold, first-to-jump-in cowers behind the truth when it really mattered. But today, hearing LGBTQ “hiding” equated to Peter’s denial of Jesus, that feels different to me.  It somehow feels punishing to tell me that my years in the closet are the same as Peter’s denying of Jesus on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. That carries with it the assumption that martyrdom is the highest of callings, and that protecting one’s self is shameful. That just doesn’t work for me. I can’t preach a gospel where self-protection is shameful.

I think if I were to preach about this passage in relationship to LGBTQ issues now, I would focus on Jesus’ response to Peter (“Peter, do you love me?”), which has been interpreted as a conversation of redemption and forgiveness. But what if it wasn’t about forgiveness? What if instead it was Jesus’ way of affirming Peter for doing what he needed to do in the moment of crisis?

One might say Jesus was aware of what was coming for him, and he chose to speak his truth anyway. But I don’t know that he intended for all 12 of his disciples to ask that they be executed right next to him. If that had happened, we may not have any Christianity today. While martyrdom is fine for a few select souls, I don’t think all of us were intended to sign up for premature deaths.

I am truly perplexed in a renewed way about our religion’s preoccupation with martyrdom, and considering anything less to be shameful. That just doesn’t square with my understanding of Jesus’ values. I, for one, aspire to being a person of integrity, who is living my life as fully and genuinely as I can–understanding that to be a moving, shifting target based on the environment, my own personality and development, and the amount of support I have around me.

These are not well rehearsed arguments, but more the ponderings of my heart as I try to reconcile a difficult Scripture and a difficult interpretation of it.