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@Marcie Jensen Are you doing some kind of research for a dissertation?  If so, I'd be interested to know the topic.


I had never thought that there was an issue with leftover communion elements...at least the way we do it, I've never noticed leftovers.  But perhaps its because the way we do it is like it is one course of a meal.  We're sitting and eating together, instead of just having a bit of bread and a nip of wine at an altar rail.  When gathered as a big group, one of the elders will bless the elements.  At home, it is usually the oldest male in the family.  In our case, either my husband or his father.  Usually the bread is a whole-wheat flatbread, a bit thicker than a tortilla and somewhat flexible. 


Yes, we're definitely in the realm of patriarchy.  But it doesn't bother me because I believe it is Scripturally based.  For example, women don't preach or read the Scripture aloud in front of large mixed groups.  The idea is that Preaching, teaching, and being a spiritual elder is a picture of God's relationship to us.  Just like husband/wife relations are a picture.  It isn't taken to mean that men are somehow "better" than women or have more power.  I'm sure there's lots of folks who disagree.  We have elders, but our community also has a council that handles temporal affairs.  Finance, health, food and supplies, education, security, etc... and we have female leaders elected to those departments.  That area is also open to men who have multiple wives.  My husband has been elected to lead security for several years. 


Perhaps our marriage customs are more similar to Islam or the original LDS...some of our older people came out of a variant of LDS (the mainstream LDS has not approved of multiple partners since the 19th century.)  I suspect that the Jewish custom of having multiple wives disappeared during the various periods of occupation and captivity.  Certainly during Roman times, the Roman Empire viewed marriage as a "one-man, one-woman" thing and enforced a lot of that on occupied peoples.  Unlike some of those groups, our community is REALLY strongly against divorce.  A big criticism we have of American society is that essentially Americans often practice polygamy...just in a serial form.  I've known people in the area who have been married and divorced 4 or 5 times.  We prefer to work things out, and a huge emphasis is placed on counseling, reconciliation, and marital duties.  Those who marry young are encouraged and counseled for the first several years by one or two older married people in addition to their parents.  Younger men are mentored by older men and younger women are mentored by older women.  There is usually somebody trustworthy to talk to, and partners are able to air grievances and deal with them before issues become large....the Matthew 18 process. 

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4 hours ago, Marcie Jensen said:

the rules by which the Congress of the United States operates were originally derived from the Presbyterians church

I read somewhere that some people considered the American Revolution to be a "Presbyterian revolt."  

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3 hours ago, Ivy said:

I read somewhere that some people considered the American Revolution to be a "Presbyterian revolt."  

In some ways it was. New England was originally settled by the puritans, who were staunch Calvinists and in the south, there was a HUGE Scots population, mostly Presbyterian and indentured servants originally, so it's a fair statement that if one was neither Anglican nor Quaker, they were most likely Presbyterians.

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@awkward-yet-sweet, I'm in the final stages of prepping for my doctoral dissertation a DMin. The topic is "The Church Inclusive: Trends Among New and Newly Growing Congregations." I get to defend it in August.  It ties in with the thesis I wrote more than 20 years ago on church growth in the 21st century.


Leftover elements of the host are dealt with in different ways depending on the denomination. It all ultimately comes back to the doctrine of transubstantiation. In both the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian traditions, the bread, or communion wafers can be4 stored and are to be first used in the next service. There's actually a little cubby behind the altar for this purpose. You can tell if there's any unused host because there is a hanging candle holder, typically of red glass, nearby. If the candle is lit, there is host present. Communion wine is viewed differently and any leftovers must be consumed. Hope that explains it.


And for clarity regarding Rome and polygamy, yes, they were against it and regarded the practice with such distaste that they outlawed the practice outside of what is now Israel/Palestine. There the practice remained until after the Jewish revolt circa 79 AD, when the temple was razed and the diaspora happened. It's also interesting to note that most Jews outside of the Holy Land had renounced the practice. With regard to how Jesus viewed the practice, there are several specific places that provide insight. Specifically: John 8:28, Matthew 18:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 7:2 and 1 Timothy 3:2, 12. The Old Testament takes a different approach in Genesis chapters 4, 16 and 29. Most scholars and theologians have consistently taken th4e New Testament view, and support this with not only Scripture but with some of the writings found at Qumran. That said, your point about serial polygamy in the present day has merit, and should likely be discussed at some point. Personally, I'm withholding  an opinion as it seems to me to be a minor thing.

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1 hour ago, Marcie Jensen said:

there was a HUGE Scots population

True.  And in this area it was a mix of Scots-Irish and Germans.  When my family moved here in the late 60's I was surprised at how many Lutherans there were in the area.

I'm a Swedish-German mix myself.  But they were all later immigrants.

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@Marcie Jensen Congratulations on nearing the end of your doctoral process. Your dissertation sounds like it has an interesting topic.


I hadn't thought before about the exact nature of the red lamp in some churches... We definitely come from different backgrounds, so I find these things interesting.  I've also noticed that some churches have altars, and some do not.  Both my husband and I grew up in church cultures in which the altar and surrounding area was a very defined and restricted space.  So restricted, in fact, that the ladies who tended the space were required to wear gloves, and robes were required for all.  At first, I found my communities informality about such things to be kind of strange. Amazing how cultures vary.  

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Hey, @awkward-yet-sweet, you're right about altars v the Lord's table. The Theology nerd strikes again! Lol. The denominations that use altars are those with a more Roman Catholic/Orthodox oriented tradition, which is why your husband who was raised Lutheran grew up with them. The use of robes and gloves by those who tend altars within the Orthodox and Coptic traditions trace this practice back to the Exodus and how things were done in the Tabernacle.


Most protestant denominations call it the Lord's table for a couple of reasons. First and foremost it's to remember the Last Supper, where Jesus "reclined at table" with His disciples. Second, is because since Jesus' work on the cross absolved humanity of the need for further sacrifices in the Jewish sense of the word, there is no longer a need for an altar, per se. Functionally, both serve the same purpose. (Side note: a piece of trivia I learned from a rabbi friend. Synagogues have no altar because in the Jewish faith, sacrifices can only be performed in the Temple, which no longer exists. He said there ar4e other factors, but this was the main one.)


And thanks for your kind words regarding my dissertation topic. I get to defend it in late August and presently I'm at 120 pages with a maximum length of 180. The way it's going, it looks like I will be using them all. 

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On 4/19/2023 at 5:50 AM, Marcie Jensen said:

Most protestant denominations call it the Lord's table for a couple of reasons. First and foremost it's to remember the Last Supper, where Jesus "reclined at table" with His disciples. Second, is because since Jesus' work on the cross absolved humanity of the need for further sacrifices in the Jewish sense of the word, there is no longer a need for an altar, per se.

Interesting.  My husband mentioned a while back that Catholics sometimes call it the "Sacrifice of the Mass."  Almost as if Jesus gets re-sacrificed at their service.  And apparently there's some fear there about spilling the wine?  I lose track of all the variants of the faith. 


But, back in the original direction of the topic.... I wonder what the main barriers are to LGBTQ+ folks attending a faith community and making it part of their social life?  Overt rejection?  A feeling of not fitting with the culture? 


I'm pretty well "out" as far as who/what I am...and it seems like the consensus of those in my community is that I'm odd but sweet and so I'm accepted. 


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1 minute ago, awkward-yet-sweet said:

I wonder what the main barriers are to LGBTQ+ folks attending a faith community and making it part of their social life?


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1 hour ago, Dillon said:



Explain?  Does something happen to make you feel insignificant? Like you're outside the main group somehow?  If something were to change, what would the first or most important thing be? 

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@Dillon, I think you've said something significant with but one word. Yes, marginalization is one of the most significant reasons why LGBTQ+ folks find it difficult to be part of a church. This applies to virtually all other religions besides Christianity, BTW, and is especially true for Islam and the more orthodox sects of Judaism. 


@awkward-yet-sweet, when you ask for an explanation, you pose the single biggest question of them all regarding this topic, and the one that inspired my dissertation. The short answer is that far too many "good Christians" (No such thing, BTW for only God is good, but I digress.) commit the sin of the4 Pharisees in that they're trying to live the Law and are consumed with self righteousness rather than simply following Christ's teaching and example. This is particularly prevalent among the wealthier congregations where the "right" clothes, job, house, etc. are the most important aspects of church which is often viewed as a social club, similar in some respects to a country club or similar activity. In many ways it reminds me4 of the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee who went into the temple to pray. Jesus tells us the Pharisee prayed "Thank you, Lord for not making me like other men!" while pointing at the tax collector. The tax collector prayed simply, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner." That's the crux of the matter; too much focus on the world and not enough focus on God.


I think what Dillon's getting at, and forgive me if I put words in your mouth Dillon, is that in many LGBTQ+ congregations, it's more a matter of lip service and hypocrisy than actual acceptance. Analogies are often suspect, but I think this one comes close. When I was growing up back in the '60s and '70s, my parents, who wanted to be considered hip by their circle of friends, would often introduce several people they knew as "this is my black/jewish/Mexican/gay friend," inserting the appropriate minority as needed.  It's often the same in many "accepting" congregations today. With people being introduced as "this is so and so, my LGBTQ+ friend" or something similar. What follows is that during services, everyone is your friend, but when it comes to being invited to serve on various committees, being part of small groups, being welcome at retreats, serving as part of leadership, and so on, we are never approached or made welcome; in short we are marginalized as were the lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors in Jesus' day. 


A truly accepting church, congregation, or community of faith should include every member in all aspects of it's life, otherwise it isn't accepting or inclusive at all. It's merely going through the motions.


That, with modifications, may become the opening statement when I defend my dissertation in August! I didn't expect that. Thank you both. You made me think.

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Yes. To expand on the scope of Marcie's examples, including some involving life outside the church's walls: we are not invited when subgroups head out for brunch at a diner after service (possibly less of an example since the start of the pandemic but a major part of church life here in the city before that). People don't drop by your house. They invite you to activities and forget to tell you (but tell everyone else) when the date changes. No one calls you or sends you an email when someone for whom you have been praying as part of the parish's prayer team dies and therefore you can't go to their funeral because you didn't know. You hear the next Sunday that, mysteriously, everyone else went to the funeral. One day it occurs to you that the phone numbers and emails (you've actually never been to anyone's home) that you have for members of the congregation were all requested by you or provided for church projects, except for one. (Yes, there is a parish directory, and no, it was never offered to me.) No one is available for the babysitting room during service, so the pastor begs and begs you to do it; you stand at the door of the room for the whole service and not one person shows up with their children. Attitudes about being around children are fraught. All of these are real events in my life, btw. I turned down an invitation from the deacon (in this case, a high-ranking person, one of only two clergy members in the parish) to work in her Saturday children's program at the church and told her it was because there are always a few parents who have intense, irrational reactions to gay (this was before I realized I was trans) people working with kids. The deacon convinced me and promised to step in if anything went wrong; and also the rector (head pastor) said he would support me. Two years later, two members started a campaign to have the gay volunteers removed from any children's program. Note that (although it shouldn't need to be said) we were always in open spaces with non-gay adults working in the programs at all times. The pastor did a 180 and worked behind the scenes to push us out. He made sure we weren't registered for the required training for working with children. He did a lot of other things. When I asked the deacon to make good on her promise to support me if something went wrong, she refused.

And the kicker: when you tell someone you're gay or they find out, they automatically start thinking about whether they approve of that and of you. You can see it in their faces, hear it in their words, and (lovely) many feel free to tell you what they think. It's something straight people never experience, and they have no idea what that is like. I experienced it over and over and still do. About 30 percent of families left my current church last year, and I think it was because of my presence. It had been a stable, somewhat sleepy, congregation for several years before that. Some people say, just don't tell people you're gay. Having to hide things about oneself--there is a lot of editing--is psychologically damaging. 

Any comments about the dignity we deserve, especially when we compare the situation to Christ eating with prostitutes etc., is responded to with rebuttals ("those prostitutes ALL repented first"), and the first half--asking to be treated with human dignity and not like sex is the first thing on my mind--falls on deaf ears.

What I'm sharing here is very vulnerable. I request not to be asked questions about it or told any explanations or way I should look at it.


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First, let me say that I feel your pain in your last post about the church and its inclusivity. Me too with many of the things you bring up. Yours was the most masterfully and succinct description of what befalls many of us in the4 LGBTQ+ community regarding church I have ever heard. I am humbled and in awe of your eloquence.


I would add that those people who speak about how the tax collectors, prostitutes and so on who "repented first" have virtually no, or very limited understanding of the Scripture they are misinterpreting. Stay strong in your faith. And know that being trans is not a sin--even mention of it is nowhere in Scripture.


God Bless you and keep you.

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@Dillon That has really got to hurt to be forgotten (intentionally), not informed, and not invited.  There's no excuse for them to treat you that way. 


As for they argument of "they repented first," look at the example of Jesus and the woman at the well.  First off, Jesus was in Samaria - a place that "good" Jews just didn't go.  Second, He asked a woman for a drink - something that culturally was not done.  Third, He knew her history and spent a lot of time talking with her, to the point where she went to the townsfolk who hated her and told them about encountering Him.  IIRC, there is no mention in that account of the woman repenting at the time.  Repentance is good and desirable, and we should aspire to better behavior and matching the example of Jesus...but it shouldn't a prerequisite for people to be decent to you.  When the people of the world treat each other better than the people of God, things are upside-down. 



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@Marcie Jensen In your studies, have you run across any of the teachings of a 19th century Lutheran theologian named C.F.W. Walther?  He's well known in Reformation-oriented churches, and my husband has some of his writings in our library.  He wrote a text called The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel that has been influential to our community. 


As I understand it, Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not to do away with it.  We're still supposed to obey things like the Ten Commandments.  The Law is preached in its full sternness, and the Gospel in its full sweetness.  The Law serves three purposes - a mirror to show us our sin, a curb to keep us from doing it, and a ruler to measure how far we fall short of the mark.  The Gospel then shows us how Jesus fulfilled the Law on our behalf, which changes how we relate to the Law.  We still strive to improve ourselves, but for the reason of making God happy and improving our relationships with Him and with others rather than out of fear.  The Law also serves the purpose of guiding us towards a happy and productive life...it becomes positive, rather than negative!  My husband teaches our children from Luther's Small Catechism, and the Ten Commandments come with Luther's explanations.  Each explanation begins with the phrase, "We should fear and love God, that..." followed by a positive exhortation/example of how we fulfill our duties. 


I tire of the "ranking" of sins.  Lots of people are openly gossipers, divisive, and uncharitable.  Are these things somehow less dangerous than sexual sin, drunkenness, or addiction?  All sin is disobedience and falling short of God's best.  All people are guilty of sin, and everybody has one or more "pet" sins that are just so hard to give up or modify.  Yet churches condemn some sins while permitting others.  This doesn't match Scripture! 


I accept that there are passages in the Bible that discourage male homosexuality, and discourage behavior apart from gender norms.  We don't change the book, the book changes us.  However, I think churches fail miserably when they approach gender and sexuality topics from the "ban" angle.  God is not the Cosmic Killjoy.  God places rules in our lives to assist us in achieving good results, happiness, health, and the things He considers best.  There is a place in life for church discipline and admonishment from others...but I believe that most people are doing it wrong.  It comes across as prideful, gossipy, hateful, and negative.  A lot of folks seem to wrongly assume that they've been given the "spiritual gift" of criticism (which does not exist in Scripture 😏). 


I accept if somebody will tell me (as has happened once or twice) that perhaps my style of dress or how I live might not conform to God's idea of what is best.  I can hear that viewpoint without being offended, if I have an otherwise positive relationship with that person and they have a genuine care for me, as well as a humble spirit in accordance with Galatians 6:1.  Notice the prerequisites: A positive relationship, a basis in Scripture, and a humble spirit.  A spiritual brother or sister is one who desires God's best for the people which whom they interact.  It is always hopeful and positive, with an earnest desire for others' wellbeing!  These are the things I just don't see happening in many churches' interactions with LGBTQ+ people.  You have to have a genuine and caring relationship with somebody before you can talk with them about any of the important stuff.  It saddens me that are a lot of LGBTQ+ people who seek a connection with God and are walking around brokenhearted because of His inept followers. 


I am thankful to be a part of my faith community, where people have accepted me and been willing to establish genuine connection with me before expressing a viewpoint.  I'm thankful that my community of faith is a community of redeemed sinners, who seek God's best even while continually falling short of the goal.  I really wish that others could experience something similar, and find a place they can belong that is both loving and true to the Scriptures.  💜

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Hi @awkward-yet-sweet. Lots of stuff to unpack in your last post. I will try to touch on them all.  To start, I have heard of, and read the writings of C.F. Walther's work. Not all mind you, but a fair part. I have read his Proper Distinctions, and he was an influence of my all time favorite modern theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I've also read Luther's small Catechism, but I will say in all candor that being a good Calvinist of Scots ancestry, there are parts of it I disagree with. :) 


Apologies to any Catholics reading the following. And I mean no offense. As far as ranking sin goes, all I can do is paraphrase what far more erudite protestant theologians have said for hundreds of years. In the eyes of God, sin is sin. Period. There is no distinction between them. The system of "mortal sins" and any other kind is a Roman Catholic institution and is not something that is mentioned in Scripture. The apostle Paul addresses this directly in Romans 3:23 when he says, "For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God." He doesn't say anything about degrees of sin or rank them. More importantly, neither does Jesus. I think that's a mic drop moment...


Regarding how one dresses, I'm not sure He cares how we dress. If He did, all believers would conform to ancient Jewish customs in that regard, and we don't. IMHO, anyone who is concerned with how others dress, well, they have nothing to be concerned about. As for LGBTQ+ people who seek the Lord and are having difficulties due to "inept" followers, I would suggest praying for them all. Or better still, praying or all of us. We all need it whether we know it or not. You are fortunate to have found an accepting faith community, as many have not.

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8 hours ago, awkward-yet-sweet said:

I really wish that others could experience something similar, and find a place they can belong that is both loving and true to the Scriptures.

I'm glad you've found this kind of place.  For my own part, I had to step away from it to find my freedom to be myself.  Would I go back?  I can't really see it.  But of course life is change, I never expected to be where I am now either.

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9 hours ago, awkward-yet-sweet said:

As for they argument of "they repented first," look at the example of Jesus and the woman at the well.  First off, Jesus was in Samaria - a place that "good" Jews just didn't go.  Second, He asked a woman for a drink - something that culturally was not done.  Third, He knew her history and spent a lot of time talking with her, to the point where she went to the townsfolk who hated her and told them about encountering Him.  IIRC, there is no mention in that account of the woman repenting at the time.  Repentance is good and desirable, and we should aspire to better behavior and matching the example of Jesus...but it shouldn't a prerequisite for people to be decent to you.  When the people of the world treat each other better than the people of God, things are upside-down. 



That was well said.

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In the discussion of sin, I didn't notice one topic addressed: suicide by queer people. Jesus tells us not to lead children astray (Matthew 18:6). Queer suicide is a direct result of Christianity (and I am deeply committed to Christ) demonizing homosexuality and saturating historical European culture with that. Transgender somehow gets pulled into it as well as far as cultural attitudes. Starting as children, and continuing through our lives, we are told consistently and repeatedly, directly and indirectly, that we don't have a right to be alive and that society doesn't cherish us. Our Christian church, as a whole, has to look deeply into repairing what we do to spread and anchor these attitudes.  

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15 minutes ago, Ivy said:

I had to step away from it to find my freedom to be myself.  

I have known many people, including my best friend, to have a deeper relationship with God, or with goodness, after stepping away from institutionalized religion. 

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20 minutes ago, Marcie Jensen said:

Regarding how one dresses, I'm not sure He cares how we dress.

But I've always been curious about how the Roman Catholic Church (I'm cradle RCC) let go of the requirement that women cover their heads in church, since Paul seems to say they must. 

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5 minutes ago, Dillon said:

I didn't notice one topic addressed: suicide by queer people.

I'm not sure suicide is a sin.  There are situations when… IDK, like in war what about a "suicide mission"?  Is sacrificing oneself a kind of suicide?  In that case Jesus himself… Since he is supposed to be God, he could have stopped this.  And what about a terminal disease?

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@Dillon, you raise some interesting points in your last couple of posts. The history of each is fascinating.


The first point about suicide isn't one that comes up very frequently in theological studies or as a topic among theologians that I'm aware of. Your point about it being a direct result of Christianity is true. I would caveat that, however by noting that for over 2000 years the Roman Catholic church has regarded it as a "mortal sin," This attitude has sadly spread many Protectant denominations as well. Keep in mind that every one of the leaders of the Reformation were originally Catholic, especially Luther who was an ordained priest. Calvin claimed that humanity is so depraved (his word, not mine) that the we corrupt everything we touch, including the church. This is further proof he was right.


As for women and hats in church, it was originally taken from Torah as a sign of respect for God. I'm not sure how it was determined by the RCC that they were no longer required, but it is interesting.

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