41) "Prevent Your Enemies?" or Love Them? | Philip Hamilton (Part 2)

"To not protect our loved ones would be negligent!" This week, Mark reflects on the conversations sparked by the recent shooting in a church in Charleston, namely arming clergy and tightening security at places of Christian gathering. Does looking like Jesus mean preventing what an enemy might do? Or does it mean loving them after the fact? Bringing together disparate thoughts on Charleston, President Obama's interview on Marc Maron's podcast, and a book by Dr. Ian Scott, we explore the question: if the teachings of Jesus, the life of Jesus, and the historical reports of the early churches look nothing like our response to tragedy, have we lost our way?

Then Mark sits down for Part 2 with Philip Hamilton, graduate student at Wycliffe College and Anglican postulate/minister at Church On Tap at Christ Church Deer Park on Yonge Street. Phil talks about what it was like to hold onto his values of authenticity and commitment and to hold those in tension as he felt called to come out as a gay man in ministry with a family. He sheds some light on attitudes towards God and spirituality in the LGBTQ community, how the church can do better, and what God might be doing with the good news in LGBTQ circles. He challenges us to rethink our stories in relation to others', and reminds us how peace and reconciliation are at the core of the gospel and are the call of church work.

Recorded on location at Marche Brookfield Place.


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Notable Quotes from Philip Hamilton

"I was much more aware of my sexuality from a very young age, but again in part of the Holiness tradition and being part of a denomination that didn't allow me to explore some of what that meant, I assume that the only thing that was a possibility especially in Christian ministry was to marry a woman. And to do the normal family thing. And so we did, and it almost worked…."

"We had children as a part of the normalizing family experience, and it was before our second was born that we had come to the realization that things were not going to work. And although we were and still are best friends, we were actually doing a disservice to the institution of marriage by presenting something to the world that is not and was not authentic."

"One of the defining features will she went to this festival called Wild Goose Fest 3 years ago, almost 4 years ago, and at that event we really felt that the Spirit was calling us to separate and to consider divorce as an option. And to try to be more authentic to our families and to our communities. So it was following that that we decided to come out."

"We don't necessarily see eye to eye with a lot of people from our families and from our past, and there have been some difficulties – it wasn't easy – it was really hard on both of our it's families – and it still sometimes is I think. it's not what they expected or hoped for - and it wasn't what we expected either."

"I personally spend some time through things that are what you would call reparative therapy when I was younger and in some different support groups for people who didn't want to be gay or who struggle with their identity is the same gender attracted people and it didn't work. And I had several counselors that attempted to use the Christian counseling methods to alter or heteronormatize my experience.... I went to... a deliverance-ministry based experience; it got pretty extreme. That was my last attempt to get rid of whatever it was. At the time I was like, 'Maybe it's a demon right?' I tried everything…."

"A lot of my friends – even the friends of mine who have chosen the celibacy route or have chosen to remain in mixed-orientation marriages – even those friends will let you know that there is no changing orientation."

"The difficulty in coming out was that a lot of other people that I have known also through these more reparative therapy tech circles were choosing all sorts of different ways of being authentic and some of them were choosing other ways that I really value like celibacy or like remaining in marriages. But I really felt that the spirit was calling us to something different and to showing people a different way of being committed and faithful and covenanted to family that isn't remaining in a traditional marriage."

"I think that it's reminded me why I really want to be in this Jesus thing, you know? That people like me, as it were, should have every reason to run from the church and as we've been excluded to throw up our hands or are single fingers to the sky and walk away."

" I do believe that people do the best that they know how to do and that we're all in this kind of process. We're on this journey of our own theological understandings and I think there's been a shift in the ways that a lot of us are understanding these sorts of things, and I have to leave a lot of room for other people to have these awakening moments like I did. and I think that by being someone who just jumped ship or throws things around and screens because I don't get my way I don't think that helps the cause or makes Jesus look good."

"A lot of this came down to the theology of what it means to be covenanted – what it means to be reflecting the covenant nature of God. So we decided we were going to get a divorce, we called up a good friends of ours who's an Anglican priest and we said we would like to do something as a family.... We wanted to be in the context of Christian community.... and so we said we want something public – not too public – but with a safe set of people that mourns the loss of something we thought we would have and then to publicly state that we are being covenanted together as a family in a different way. And so he had this ceremony based out of marriage language and also there's a rite for divorce and mourning the loss of a marriage that the Anglican church has developed and so we can of spliced these things together."

"And so after three years of this living situation – we all live together in the same home in a shared but separated space, and raise the children together, and we're still best friends and so we spend a lot of time together. And we're really happy with this model of family. And I think that for us at least, and as we tell our stories I think that we are able to show what we - at least in our situation - what reconciliation look like – what we believe kingdom values of restorative covenant looks like."

"I'm disappointed in the church - as I'm in the LGBTQ community - in that people within the church have more issues with me being gay and choosing to stay in the church than people in the LGBTQ community do with me becoming a priest and being in the community. And to me I feel like it should be the other way around."

"The number of times that I sat with a drag queen who grew up a Baptist kid and got kicked out of the house as a teenager and now is doing drag and these stories that are everywhere – the more that I encounter that, the more that I think that as the church we are really missing out on not just a ministry opportunity as it were but we're actually missing out on some really beautiful stories and what I think are some of the stories that make us better."

"I do feel as though within the queer community there is a different openness to spirituality that I haven't experienced in more general broad secular life, and I'm not entirely sure what that is."

"As an Anglican one of the things I've come to value is our theological and biblical exegetical diversity as Christian people. I have all the time in the world for people who are conservative theologically and conservative on issues of social justice and marriage equality for example, but I don't have time for people who posture themselves in ways that are not open and welcoming and attentive to hear the stories of people. And so I think that if I could give a wake-up call to the church it would be that we need to listen and we need to shut up more and to welcome people in and allow people to experience Jesus the way that they do. And if you've got a more conservative theological understanding of what it means to be gay or to be transgender or one of those things, I think we can keep our mouth shut and let the Holy Spirit – if we believe that there is a Holy Spirit – let the Holy Spirit do the work."

"I think the overarching Biblical narrative gives us so many different narratives to show us a little bit of that – to show us that there has been the diversity of the ways that God has reached out to us and interacted with people throughout history. And yet the overarching metanarrative – the narrative that Jesus Christ is the good news for the world – that doesn't change because my narrative doesn't look like yours."

"I'm just in love with the narrative – the metanarrative – that we've inherited as Christian people. And I think that specifically as Westerners there is so much that our own experience has been shaped even in ways that were unaware of by this narrative of salvation and redemption and resurrection. And I think part of what kept me in it is that I'm in love with the story and I'm in love with the person of Jesus."

"I think right now as people who are in the church, I think that this is the best and really this is the time that we need to model reconciliation within our own really busted up, broken church thing. This is not the time to continue to throw stones and to be Republican Christians or Democrat Christians or whatever defining features we're going to really stand and die on. This is the time to show the world what it looks like to be a people who are diverse and who disagree well. And who are reconciled to one another."

"I would say that primarily God's laws and laws made known to us through the person and work of Jesus, and I think to go to much beyond that it does get kind of complicated. But I think that God is still intimate and personally concerned with what's going on in the world and I think that that interconnectedness with us and the fact that Don is in touch with their reality and our stories and the Mariners of the whole cosmos, really – I think that that is what makes this whole thing really worthwhile."

"The good news is that all things – everything from you and me to the stars that we can't see – are being redeemed and called back and brought into this picture of the kingdom that is God through Jesus Christ."


Next Week's Episode 42

Mark's interview of Drew Marshall on The Drew Marshall Show