Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Brother is a Megachurch Pastor

Today I learned that one of my brothers has been hired as a pastor at a church in Dallas. I am sincerely excited for my brother as he transitions into this new role, as he has long had a dream of being a pastor. While my brother and I have different faiths, I am happy to know that he is realizing one of his dreams.

I had a text conversation with my husband today about this news. The church whose pastoral staff my brother will be joining has more than 9,000 members. Using the most recent statistics, we estimate that upwards of 300 members of my brother's new congregation are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Some of them are children--kids just beginning to realize they aren't like most of the other kids at church, kids who are hungry to know what God thinks of them and what they should think of themselves.

I wonder what messages they will be hearing from the pulpit--a pulpit that will sometimes be filled by my brother? I remember the messages my brother and I heard from the pulpits of our parents' churches when we were kids: "all gay people are promiscuous", "all gay people are child molesters", "all gay people get AIDS and die by age 40", "all gay people choose to be gay", and orientation "change is possible" and oh-so-simple to do. Will my brother say similar things?

Somehow, I doubt my brother could in good faith make any of the same claims.

My brother knows real life gay people. My husband and I are not the only LGBT people he knows, but I hazard to guess we are the ones he knows best. I am grateful to have been out to my brother for more than a decade. My brother was in the know as I fought to change my orientation with all the bravado that ex-gay ministries could whip up; he was in the know when I was spiraled out of control into depression and self-mutilation; he was in the know when I began rebuilding my life, reexamining the faith of our parents, and discovering God did not feel about me as I once thought he did; and he was in the know when C and I began dating, got engaged, and were married.

I am happy to know that when my brother preaches or counsels his congregation on the topic of homosexuality, he won't be talking about hypothetical people. He'll be talking about people he knows. People like us.

It is my great hope that the gay kids growing up in my brother's church will hear much different, much more realistic messages about people like them. I'm sure my brother won't tell them that God made them gay and specifically designed them to fall in love with a special person of the same gender--but I'll bet he also won't tell them that being gay is a choice, that Exodus can change them simply or quickly, or that they'll be miserable and dead before middle age.

I hope.

P.S. Yep, the picture at the top of this post is the actual map of my brother's new church. 9 elevators, 7 information stations, and a 3-level underground parking garage. The place is amazing!


Pomoprophet said...

Thats a big church! I remember meeting your brother briefly that one exgay camp. He was kind.

I hope you are right about your brother. I dread you being a sermon illustration about how he loves gay people because his brother is gay but its still a sinful lifestyle full of misery.

When my fiance is a pastor i'll make sure he only tells good stories about you from the pulpit ;)

Amanda said...

whoa.. a brother of Joe only 2.5 miles from my home. Oh, to be a fly on the wall and hear how having you and C in his life and family has influenced his ministry for the good. I may have to visit and listen in...

Brandon said...

I hope your brother is able and willing to denounce the lies of so many stereotypes directed toward gay people, and will genuinely be able to help anyone struggling with their sexuality in a positive way. I'm sure you and your husband will help him to do that. :)

D.J. Free! said...

Am I correct in assuming this is your brother J? Congrats to him in reaching this part of his dream! you really think it's as high as 300? There's a bit of self-selection that happens in churches which would make it different from the general population.