all opinions
Opinions posts

An open letter to my beloved church

11.6. 2014 Written By: Chester Wenger 355,160 Times read

I am profoundly reluctant to write this letter because I know there are those it will wound deeply. But I have also come to the conviction that I can no longer hide the light the Lord has lit within me, under a bushel. I want to share with you what the Lord has been telling me and my dear life companion.

First, a defense of my ministry—if you will allow me to paraphrase the words of the Apostle Paul from Philippians 3:4ff.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:

• Baptized into a Virginia Conference Mennonite Church as a young boy, youngest son of a Mennonite evangelist and second president of Eastern Mennonite Seminary (now EMU), AD Wenger.

• Mothered by a diligent student and teacher of the Scriptures, the oldest daughter of a Lancaster Mennonite Conference bishop and faithful to her Church in every way.

• At the request of Lancaster Mennonite Conference ordained in 1949, by Virginia Mennonite Conference for mission work in Ethiopia.

• Appointed by Eastern Mennonite Mission Board of Lancaster Conference as the Educational Director for the Mennonite Mission in Ethiopia.

• Founded and taught Bible in the Bible Academy of Nazareth Ethiopia which was established to train potential leaders for the budding Meserete Kristos Church.

• First elected chairman of Ethiopia’s Meserete Kristos Church, now the largest Mennonite church in the world.

• Happily turned the MKC chairmanship over to an Ethiopian who later was chosen and served as president of Mennonite World Conference.

• Began and taught in various educational programs in Lancaster Conference that were centered on Bible teaching (e.g. Keystone Bible Institutes, Paul Timothy Program).

• Former director of Home Missions of Eastern Mennonite Missions.

• Former pastor and still a member in good standing of Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, a thriving congregation of many young adults and young families.

• Lifelong student of the Bible and when it comes to quoting scripture passages I would be ready to compete with any one.

• Father of 8 children (one deceased) all of whom love the Lord and serve his Kingdom.

• Pleaded for patience when my congregation decided to leave Lancaster Conference over the women’s leadership issue to join Atlantic Coast Mennonite Conference.

• When it comes to my desire to be faithful to the laws of God and to walk uprightly with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my children and many, many Ethiopian and US witnesses will vouch for my integrity.

My life has been filled with much joy seeing God at work in numerous settings. God’s grace has been shown daily on my behalf. But as the Apostle Paul has said so well, “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”

So, with all of the above acknowledged, what is the light I’ve been hiding under the bushel?

• When our gay young adult son about 35 years ago was excommunicated from the Mennonite Church by a church leader, without any conversation with him or his parents, my wife and I grieved deeply.

• For many years, in the company of other grieving parents of homosexual persons, we have told our stories, read and reread the Scriptures. Most striking to us is that God, who created the world, who gave us Eden, also gives us the “leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations.”

• The world we live in is no longer the idyllic Eden. It is a broken, complex, messy, violent and yet wonderful world. God’s mercy-filled grace infuses our broken world with a goodness that keeps surprising us with joy—and healing. God’s grace also calls us to faithfully love God and neighbor above all else.

• The church we belong to has the power to bind and loose. Today’s church, much like the early Christians, has the Spirit-given power to rethink whether or not “circumcision” will continue to define who is in and who is out.

• Because of the brokenness of all sexualities that abuse, lust, access pornography, have sex with unmarried partners of the same or the other gender—because of this brokenness, the church must rise up to reclaim a godly and wholesome sexuality:
-a godly sexuality that is wholesome because it is covenanted, accountable to and blessed within the church (not left to fend for itself outside the church);
-a godly sexuality that is wholesome because it calls every one to recommit our bodies (whether heterosexual or homosexual) to be temples of the Holy Spirit, seeking first the Kingdom of God and covenanting to follow Jesus every day.

• When my wife and I read the Bible with today’s fractured, anxious church in mind, we ask, what is Jesus calling us to do with those sons and daughters who are among the most despised people in the world—in all races and communities?

• What would Jesus do with our sons and daughters who are bullied, homeless, sexually abused, and driven to suicide at far higher rates than our heterosexual children?

• We know from Deuteronomy that eunuchs were a sexual minority, loathed and considered unacceptable for admission to the “assembly of the Lord” and yet in Isaiah 56 the Lord says: “Do not let the eunuch say, ‘I am just a dry tree.’…  I will give them a name better than sons and daughters….for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples … ”

• My dear wife Sara Jane and I love all of our children. We give thanks for the remarkable Kingdom work each of them is doing. We know that several of our children believe that the church should not endorse same-sex marriage. And several of our children believe that same-sex marriage is a faithful and godly choice when blessed by the church.

• While the tension around this issue is painful in our family, we continue to love each other, to sing, pray and play together. Our children all honor us with deep devotion and faithful care—and genuinely enjoy each other.

• My wife and I are devoted to our Lord, with a firm commitment to the authority of the Scriptures. We strive to be faithfully obedient to Jesus.

• We invite the church to courageously stake out new territory, much as the early church did. We invite the church to embrace the missional opportunity to extend the church’s blessing of marriage to our homosexual children who desire to live in accountable, covenanted ways.

• We know that while many of us hear different things from the Scriptures, God’s deepest desire, as made known in Jesus Christ, is “to seek and to save that which was lost.” We believe this is an opportune moment for the church to boldly proclaim a pastoral, grace-filled readiness to include both homosexuals and heterosexuals within the blessing of a marriage covenant designed to be wholesome and God-honoring.

This is the light that has been burning more and more brightly under my bushel, and I am now prepared finally, as a 96-year old, still zealous missionary, to let it shine. So …

• When the laws of Pennsylvania changed in July, our gay son and his committed partner of twenty-seven years went immediately to apply for a marriage license. Subsequently they asked me if I would marry them. I happily agreed. We held a private ceremony with only six persons present. Our son and his partner are members of an Episcopal Church, but they chose my wife and me to share with them in this holy covenant of marriage.

• When I reported this event to Lancaster Conference leaders, they responded with grace-filled pastoral listening, while acknowledging that what I’d done was out of step with established credentialing agreements with other Mennonite Conferences. Afterward the LMC credentialing committee met on Sept. 10 and retired my credentials and I am at peace with their decision and understand their need to take this action.

• I know persons will accuse me for my transgression, but my act of love was done on behalf of the church I love, and my conscience is clear. I feel that my act of love in signing a marriage license for our son and his companion was in line with the actions of Peter and Paul who led the church of Christ to welcome the uncircumcised into the fellowship of the family of God.

• Paul and Peter both received harsh criticism for years for their deeds but the Holy Spirit led the Jerusalem conference to heartily approve their testimony and leadership. My prayer is that our Church leaders in their next Assembly will likewise not only approve but warmly invite into congregational fellowship those believers in Christ who have suffered exclusion from membership in our Mennonite Church. Let us pray the Spirit of Christ will teach us all how to love and welcome the outcasts as Jesus did.

• My dear companion of 70 years and I declare our enduring love for Lancaster Mennonite Conference, for the Mennonite Church, for the Meserete Kristos Church and for all God’s people. We carry no bitterness or regret for our actions. Our hearts are filled with love for all.

• We pray that our love in family and Church will bind us together in God’s family even when our understandings of God’s will may differ. Christ’s prayer for oneness in John 17 can be attained!

Related story:
Click here for Tim Nafziger’s blog: The hole in Lancaster Conference’s case against Chester Wenger.

To promote constructive dialogue, the editors of The Mennonite moderate all comments and comments don’t appear until approved. Anonymous comments are not accepted. Writers must sign posts or log into Disqus with their first and last name. Read our full comment policy.

294 Responses to “An open letter to my beloved church”

  1. Merv Horst says:

    Sara Jane and Chester. What a wonderful testimony. We do have a Godly heritage. I thank you for remaining faithful to the spirit of the Gospel and not the letter of the law. I know many in your family. Another son of mine was a classmate graduating in 1978 from Lancaster Mennonite High School and your grandson is a wonderful elder at our church Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship here in New York.

    • Eugene Witmer says:

      It would be hard indeed to think that the late, highly revered A.D. Wenger, would for a minute not be highly disappointed by the position taken by his son Chester, and applauded by those considered Mennonite church leaders.

  2. Dick Benner says:

    What a powerful testimony from a wise elder who I hold in high regard! How could anyone gainsay these gracious words of love and magnanimity.

  3. Sarah Gingrich says:

    Lord, have mercy. Dear ones, please turn from heresy.

    “The word heresy comes from the Latin haeresis, meaning “act of choosing.” Those adhering to these false and mistaken ideas, i.e., heretics, were understood to have chosen a different interpretation of the faith than the one the Church proclaimed.

    Once they were identified as false doctrines, there was no question in the minds of the Fathers of the Church but that these heresies needed to be condemned. Today, of course, the idea of condemning anybody for holding any belief is not very popular. Indeed, the idea that heresy is something necessarily false and harmful is not very popular. In the modern mind heresy is often thought to be something to be proud of; “heretics” are as likely as not to be considered cultural heroes. But if all ideas are accorded equal status regardless of whether or not they are true, then very soon truth itself inevitably goes by the board.

    To a great extent, this is what has happened in our world today: Toleration is valued more than truth. Pope Benedict XVI just prior to his election called it a “dictatorship of relativism.” It is a situation that the Fathers of the Church, who believed in the primacy of truth, would not have understood at all.

    Today’s failure to identify and affirm truth doesn’t mean that there are no harmful consequences. On the contrary, the harm to souls in need of sanctification and salvation becomes all the greater to the extent that people believe it doesn’t matter whether or not they adhere to true belief and practice. For heresy is necessarily harmful — and even fatal — to souls.” -Kenneth D. Whitehead

    • SurvivorGirl says:

      I find it interesting that church people shout “heresy” when someone has discovered a deeper truth than what is simply written on a page, and that almost always comes by experience in conjunction with Scripture. Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk who postulated that not only was the earth not the center of the universe but also that the sun was not the center of the universe, was labeled a heretic and burned at the stake by the church. Why? All because of the misinterpretation of the scripture about the sun “standing still.”

      This precious, godly couple exemplifies Christ in too many ways to count. I admire their courage and hope to be as brave as they.

    • Donovan J. Beyeler says:

      Sarah, I respect your right to your opinion but unfortunately your general attitude has something to be desired. As a 71 year old and reflecting back on my life, I doubt whether I would still be in the Mennonite Church today if all I had heard was the message and the way that you have presented your case. You can do better, Sister.

      Have you ever really asked the hard questions about what life would have been like if God in His glory had decided that you should be homosexual in your orientation biologically. The genome that I was granted with could easily have been other than heterosexual. In fact sexual orientation is primarily a continuum over a full range of hetero and homo biologically and yes, some can change their orientation in the center that of that continuum. Apart with the center it is very rare in its possibilities. You should have known that if you are in any way scientifically oriented, curious, and genuinely honest in seeking the truth. Wouldn’t you think that I have a point in speaking person to person here with you.

      Are you so sure after taking the scripture in context and passages of Paul’s writings in context that the main issue was not pederasty that he wrote about. … How do you deal with difficult issues such as the age of woman in Mary’s day being of 12 to 14 years at marriage which today would be considered pedophilia. Perhaps you yourself have become very Americanized in your views and theologically, and culturally bound. Why not think outside the box for a second? … I wish you well!

      • Dan Clark says:

        I understand the compassion of the dad to marry his son, but doing so, he has given his son his own blessing, not God’s as God will not bless what he so clearly calls an abomination.

        If we truly love the sinner,, we should be helping them to “sin no more” rather than encouraging a life of unrepentant sin. We know that God is love but we forget he is also holy and won’t abide sin.

        I truly hope the couple decide to deny themselves and follow Christ as he commanded rather than to live in selfish ways. Jesus when confronted by the rich man, knew the rich man’s idols and told him to rid himself of the riches (idol) as this couple should rid themselves of their idol of homosexuality.

        What I find surprising is that if this gentleman were truly to understand and teach God’s word, why he would be so eager to totally disobey his Father. Curious…

        • Christian Allyn says:

          “God will not bless what he so clearly calls an abomination”? In the one passage of Deuteronomy, homosexuality is NOT called an “abomination before the Lord.” It is called an abomination, but this is a term also applied to wearing clothing of mixed fabrics, eating pork or shellfish, lighting a fire on the Sabbath, etc. The term “abomination” was simply used to indicate that something was outside the cultural norm for these Semitic peoples of the seventh and eighth centuries B.C. What is called an “abomination before the Lord,” however, is much more serious, and is clearly immoral (not just against custom): murder, idolatry, adultery, etc.

          “What I find surprising is that if this gentleman were truly to understand and teach God’s word, why he would be so eager to totally disobey his Father. Curious…”

          Yes, and why someone would be so quick to point out “disobedience” when he is so obviously lacking in knowledge and study of God’s word is perhaps more curious still.

          Let all of us strive to do better.

          • theo dore says:

            Dear Sarah. Are you Protestant or Catholic? I ask because to call out someone as a heretic you sight the former Pope of the same Church that at one time declared Protest-ants to be heretical even as Luther et.all pointed the accusing finger in the other direction.

            If you are Catholic you are out of step with the current Catechism regardless of what one Pope speaking as a man and not ex cathedra may have said.

            If you are Protestant you are your source makes of you a heretic. Curious either way.

          • Dan Clark says:

            Hey Christian

            As much as you’d love to toss God’s holiness aside for the shifting sands of public opinion, please educate me.

            Show me where in the Bible God confirms same-sex marriage. Or even show me where God affirms homosexuality. I’d like book/chapter/verse.

            Much appreciated.

            Thanks in advance.

          • Bob Clark says:

            With much respect to Mennonite brethren and sisters, I wish to comment on a quote from Dan Clark , who said, “Show me where in the Bible God confirms same-sex marriage. Or even show me where God affirms homosexuality. I’d like book/chapter/verse.” Dan, not everything we confront in this ever changing and complex world is in the Bible. Nor the US Constitution, but the Constitution can be amended. If you need authority for the way you think, than that limits you and places you in a “lock box” with the Bible. That is ok too, for some who feel more comfortable in life feeling tucked in by someone greater with authority. For those who are truth seekers and those who need knowledge over authority understand that the venom that the Baptists have released on marriage rights is really all about their attitudes regarding sex. Only because marriage denotes sex and the imaginary consummation of a gay marriage is no doubt a “sin” in their minds, did the political organizations start being used to prevent the government from approving such..So for an example of a ever changing complex issue not being mentioned in the Bible , I leave you with a choice. Even pork is listed as an abomination. Dog meat is not. Parts of Asia eat dog meat. Since it is not listed as a no-no in the Bible, and without the ability to change the Good Book, you may eat dog if you wish with God’s blessing.

    • Merv Horst says:

      Chester Wenger continues to bear fruit as this Lancaster Conference Mennonite article articulates. http://www.shalomnews.net/aug_sept_13/fruit.html

    • Matthew Morin says:

      It is strange, to say the least, for someone in the Anabaptist heritage to bring the charge of heresy.

    • Kathy1255 says:

      No one person or institution has a monopoly on “truth”. All any of us have at best is an interpretation and we all of our interpretations are filtered through our upbringing, our experiences and what we’ve been told to believe. We look at scripture through the lens we are wearing and we all have different colored lenses that cause us to see it differently. The Bible was used to support slavery less than two hundred years ago. The church does need to be culturally relevant if it is ever going to be a witness to the Gospel of Christ. Scripture is very important but Christians need to understand that Jesus is the WORD, and He trumps the Bible so if scripture seems to contradict Christ, we need to choose Christ every time. I would rather be wrong and be on the side of tolerance and compassion and take my chances with God than to be “right” and heartless. Martin Luther once said that the Bible is the cradle that holds the Christ child. We open the Bible and in it we are allowing ourselves to be led to Christ. The only problem is that many Christians continue to worship the “cradle” long after Christ is no longer in it. The letter of the law kills, the Spirit gives life….last time I checked my bible. We are killing people with the letter of the law and we are doing it in the name of Christ. Didn’t Jesus have something to say about that? He spoke to the religious of his day and said “You search the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life and yet you will not come to me.” The church, once again, needs to move out of the dark ages and find out where Jesus went. And when it does, the call is to “come, follow me.”

  4. Eric Kurtz says:

    This is very moving and powerful. I hope it will be published in full in the print version.

  5. Anna Groff says:

    Eric, a shortened version of this letter will appear in the letters section of the December issue.—Editor

  6. Rev Len Abrams says:

    Thank you for this testimony. I think that this growing awareness of God’s love and acceptance of all persons will become an increasingly powerful message in the world – a new empowering of God’s mission. You are right – there is a desperate need for the Light to shine.

  7. Blaine Derstine says:

    Thank you Chester and Sarah Jane for not keeping your “light under a bushel.”

  8. Connie Shelley says:

    Love supersedes issues, as it should. Thank you for taking off the bushel and letting your personal Light shine.

  9. Lisa Schirch says:

    Thank you so much for your letter. May more Anabaptist leaders find the courage within themselves to also speak this truth. Too often Anabaptist leaders follow the authority of homophobic public opinion from the pews rather than take the courageous steps of reading the radical message of hospitality and love. Too often leaders protect their positions and create an idolatry of Mennonite institutions rather than be true to what most of them already know… the church has been guided by secular homophobia rather than real Biblical interpretation and understanding.

  10. Gordon Tobias says:

    as a former mennonite, who once served as an Elder at our old church, i saw these issues coming down the pike several years ago. first, when the issue of women ordination came about, and now we have the MCUSA ordaining persons with homosexual orientation. Should we love and welcome LBGT person? absolutely. Should we allow people living in unrepentant sin access to the Eucarist, leadership or teaching positions, access to the pulpit? No. but not because of fear, hate, or other unloving means, but out of sincere love to see all reconciled to the Lord. anything that stands apart from the teaching of scripture, the witness of the Apostles and other traditional teachings of the Church should be held with caution, and not allowed to cause change or controversy. I fear in the next half decade or so, the mennonite church is going to collapse on itself and splinter even further over all these issues.

    • Br. John Anthony, OSB says:

      I feel I must ask the question … when did the Eucharist become the property of the church? Where does the church draw its authority from to deny the Eucharist to anyone. Christ did not set out any policy of who should receive and who should not. I am sorry my dear brother .. but you are wrong to presume that you have the right to deny the Eucharist to anyone. Secondly … God and only God has the right to judge!

    • Jere Biehle says:

      Gordon, “anything that stands apart from the teaching of scripture, the witness of the Apostles and other traditional teachings of the Church should be held with caution, and not allowed to cause change or controversy.” ??? While I do not doubt your sincerity or your loyalty to what you READ, are you oblivious that LIFE IS CHANGE? EVERYTHING changes, Gordon, and EVERYTHING is controversial. If you do not agree, sleep outside tonight. No pillow, no blanket. Just you and the ground. By morning, you should have a new perspective on change and controversy.

  11. Mary Jane Hershey says:

    Preach it, Sister and Brother!
    Wisdom from the wisest among us!

  12. Brian Hager says:

    As a catholic-in-exile, it pains me to see others unable to continue on their communities of faith. Yet, it seems as though the christian church as a whole across the world has reached a cross road. There are many possible reasons for hardening of hearts within your beloved church, but your willingness to speak out to give witness to the Light that dwells in your soul is magnificent testimony to Unconditional Love.

  13. Joseph J. Kotva Jr. says:

    All I can say is “thank you” for such a gracious and well conceived letter.

  14. Rebecca Seiling says:

    Many, many thanks for your courage to write and publish this letter.

  15. dania nofziger says:

    This is truely heart breaking. I agree with Sarah Gingrich. This is going to split the church, and rightly so. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Eph 5:11 kJB so very sad indeed.

  16. Tom Brenneman says:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful, loving letter. My prayer is that we as a church will listen and, in the words of an old hymn we used to sing, “open the wells of grace and salvation” to any and all who wish to be a part of us.

  17. amanda says:

    Much respect and love to you and your family. One day, the church will treat LGBT people as equals and will not divide families, as it has here. That day is coming.

  18. Juanita Gwinn says:

    Thank you for your incredible, courageous, thoughtful truth. One of the first bible school songs I learned as a child was “Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine!” May God continue to bless you and your family as you let it shine! Thank you!

  19. hreed@umd.edu says:

    Chester, I am moved deeply and humbled by your eloquent witness here. I was a classmate of your son Chet and while I do not claim to have known him well I believe that I knew him well enough to say that he would have been very proud of you at this moment. For what it is worth, your recitation of “credentials” was unnecessary for me as your reputation precedes your words, Brother Wenger.

  20. The Rev. George E. Keck says:

    As an 80 year old, retired, Lutheran (ELCA) clergyman, I admire Chester for
    letting his “light shine.” In the past, our churches have been opposed to many things – bi-racial marriage, women not wearing head covering, ordination of women, divorce, etc., – all based on a “literal reading” of the Bible. However, the Bible never was merely “dead facts from the past,” but a Living Story of God’s “forgiveness for the future.” God’s love and forgiveness will never change, but the church has, and will, change.

  21. Daniel Amstutz says:

    I understand the deep need that LGBT people have to be loved and accepted by people outside of their group. It is the same need people in any other outcast group in society has, such as: the homeless, ex-convicts, drug addicts, people who were abused as children, refugees, etc. I truly am glad to have a faith background, such as the Mennonite one, which seeks to love these and bring them in to the Kingdom of God. Yet sometimes this zeal also can go overboard. While seeing the brokenness, the imperfection caused by sin, traditionally it has meant we reach out in love to bring them to God, who is truth, but never denying that which is true (for example: God does not desire people to be addicted to drugs, or be homeless). And we know these things based on that which has been revealed (Bible), and seeing the devastation that the contrary brings. Though it is not a highly discussed topic in the Bible, I cannot see how one could ignore this topic. It is as if Romans 1:26-27 does not exist anymore?! (I know other churches aren’t perfect in their inclusion of all things which God says in the Bible either, but I still think it is no excuse to take any subject lighter). If Mr. Wenger is really wanting a godly sexuality that is wholesome, then let’s sincerely seek of God that definition, not of man.
    Having a clear conscience is not necessarily a sign that is the will of God. People who have adopted certain lifestyles (such as stealing, lying, etc.) will also say they have a clear conscience, because they have convinced themselves of their necessity to do it, and have implemented an override mechanism that bypasses their conscience in that area.
    I truly believe that, as Mennonites who have also found a “third way” in subject of peace which is congruent with the Bible, we can find a “third way” in this subject which is congruent with the Bible. I mean this in the sense that we are not for the condemnation of people who consider themselves LGBT, but believe that God is stronger than those desires, and can heal. God is a healer. Being that He has healed people of other unnatural mindsets (such as believing that the need for sex is greater than being faithful to ones spouse, that alcohol is a greater comforter than the Holy Spirit, etc.), I believe he can heal of this unnatural mindset.
    Now, it took willing and extremely loving people to work with many of these outcast groups. And that is still what we need. And one must admit, people who have worked with outcast have also learned many a thing from these people. And that still is the case with the LGBT group. We can learn many a thing from them. But we must be clear: it does not validate the erroneous mindset and actions. Example: A person who was abused as a child comes into an erroneous mindset, sets up defense mechanisms which protect them to a degree, but are harmful in the long run. They have learned things in the process, and we can learn many of those things from them while being an instrument of restoration in God’s hands. It still does not mean that it was originally God’s will for those things to happen, or that the person stay in such mindset. We can learn a lot through experiences that in an ideal world would not happen. But God is calling us to not settle and become complacent in this imperfection. He told us to pray: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. So let’s do that!

    • Herb Reed says:

      Daniel,
      LGBTQ people are not “some group” who just want to be loved and accepted. By using language such as “brokenness” and “erroneous mindset” you are perpetuating a stereotype which has caused enormous harm to LGBTQ people in the past. They cannot be “healed” if by that you mean change their sexual orientation. This kind of thinking has motivated ministries such as Exodus International (EI ) to attempt to do just what you are suggesting, to “heal people of this unnatural mindset.” And what has been the result? Many people were harmed and there is no evidence that anyone was “healed.” For this Exodus International has apologized. “Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.” You are free to believe what you want about the origins of sexual orientation but make no mistake. Repeating the notion that people can be “healed” of their sexual orientation is going to harm people – mostly young people who are still struggling with their sexual identities. Thankfully EI no longer tries to do this but others will take encouragement from comments such as yours here.

      • Tommy says:

        In reading this article It fills me with hope! I am not a Mennonite but raised in an area of Eastern Kentucky with a very large Mennonite population. I became saved by the lord when I was in high school and began my lifelong journey to try to find the path up the mountain like many others. For a very long time I prayed daily to remove the stain of being a gay male from my life. I finally after years realized that the reason GOD was not removing this stain from me was because he had made me in his image and exactly how he wanted me to be from the start. From as early as I can remember I have been gay LONG before I even knew what on earth that was. I realized GOD did not want me to lie to myself and the world by saying I am someone I was never meant to be, he expected me to be myself fully BUT hold to the same values. No lusting, unlawful relations and the like. Gay people are not some minority freaks of nature or unnatural, homosexuality occurs throughout the vast makeup of creatures who GOD chose to populate the planet he created for us. It is not unnatural or wrong. Many a year I have wondered when folks say “its a choice,” believe me, as hard as folks beat, kill and try to harm gay people, NO ONE would choose to be beat, mocked and scorned if they had a choice. No heterosexual person can tell you they day they picked being heterosexual. Its because you don’t pick or choose, you are just who you are born to be. An individual made by GOD to be just the person he wanted you to be.

        • Daniel Amstutz says:

          Throughout this comment I really hope you understand I am trying my best not to be judgmental, but simply stating with I cannot deny to be true in the Word of God.
          I know it is much more complicated than: “Hey, I think you’re wrong”. I usually wouldn’t go up somebody who is struggling with something and tell them: “Hey, you’re wrong, let me correct you.” Stupid thing to do. (It is not what I am trying to do here, so please don’t take it as such) But we know that alcoholics, drug addicts, etc. will obviously feel excluded if you go about it that way. I know I do not have all the answers on exactly how to go about it. We are learning. Just as we have learned to help abuse victims.
          I don’t really have a problem with being good friends people who considers themselves gay (I’ve actually had them and it was different, yet also good). There are many personality aspects which I find very admirable in such people. I have no problem having a person of the LGBT persuasion as part of the church. But once again, I cannot simple say: Oh, what God really meant with “men leaving the natural use of women and being consumed with their desire for each other” (Rom. 1:27) was something else, but not that which seems perfectly logical when reading it (in the greek manuscript). The question we MUST ask ourselves is: Can God really endorse something now which he hasn’t endorsed in the past? Do we believe it when God says he is never-changing (Mal 3:6)? If not, then we just pick and choose what we think is right, or? We as Mennonites many times accuse other Brethren of picking and choosing, especially when it comes to our non-violence stance. Why is it wrong when they do it, but right when we do it?
          None of us are born perfect. All of us sinned before we knew it was wrong, because all us were conceived sin (Psalm 51:5). Yes, there are things we come to live with because of this condition, and cannot change. But I still believe God holds us accountable to the degree to which we can decide. My view (after hours of Bible study, time spent with gay people, going as far as I can into psychology, and in my connection with God through the Holy Spirit): Gay people can be in the church. Let their personality shine through! Please! Yet, just as someone who has struggled with alcohol almost invariably needs to abstain from it, I believe a gay person (with the Holy Spirit as their guide) needs to learn what they need to abstain from, as to keep in concordance with the Word of God, and I believe God will help them with the transforming of their minds. I know it sounds ridiculous to some. But I cannot change the Bible. And there are a fair amount of people who consider themselves gay who have the same conviction. Here a link: https://www.gaychristian.net/rons_view.php. I hope it helps.
          Once again, please take this with as much respect as you possibly can. I am not trying to point fingers, but just express my thoughts and help us all respectfully and truthfully dialogue about this.

          • Steve says:

            Is it just possible that Romans 1:26–27 is talking about men who are NOT homosexual giving up THEIR natural relations with women for unnatural relations with other men because THEIR sexual lust is out of control? I think it is entirely unclear that those verses are addressing committed same sex relationships.

          • Jonathan Beachy says:

            Daniel, you mentioned or quoted Romans 1 a couple of times, and seek call others to take it seriously. I do, and so from my humble understanding of sexual orientation, I understand that you can take this verse exactly as stated to mean what it says–if, and its a big if, you understand sexual orientation from a scientific perspective. The verse you quoted talks about men “leaving their natural attraction for women.” I have never met or read the story of a gay man doing this. Gay men never were attracted to women, they did not leave a natural attraction to women. Their natural attraction was always, and always will be to men. They may choose, with a lot of support and encouragement, to go “against nature” but the attraction will always be present. Hope this opens a new window as you seek to understand where all people are coming from.

          • Daniel Amstutz says:

            Steve and Jonathan,
            Thank you for your response. Good questions. The problem I see is, that such a distinction (what is natural for a heterosexual vs. what is natural for a homosexual) is not made anywhere in the Bible. If you ask me, the verse says “men”, not “heterosexual men” (I know “heterosexual” and “homosexual” were not in use yet at those times, yet had it been up for debate as it is today, I believe those words would have been used). Another question would be then: When is the last time you heard a heterosexual man say: “I need sex so bad, I am going to turn to another man to fulfill that desire”? And if so, you would most likely call it a sin. I believe that the way you interpret that verse creates a double standard: For heterosexual men, it is a sin to have sex with a man; but for homosexual men, it is not. I have not known for God to have double standards. Again, for me, it is the act itself which God considers destructive, which I think is what Romans 1 is getting at.
            And just because something seems natural from a very young age on, does not mean it is good. There are many things which at that age seem natural and right (lying, crying to get attention, hitting others, etc.), and many keep on doing similar things even at old age because they’ve always done it. Never made it right though. Though I understand where you’re coming from with the argument that it seemed so natural from a young age on. There are things which are good that seem natural early on already. But one cannot use that as the basis of one’s argument. It is shaky ground and questionable logic.
            With all this, I keep on trying to be as respectful of such people as possible. It really is never my intention to simply discredit anybody (especially those who are going through such struggle, because we must admit that is real), but if we’re going to talk about it seriously, it might dig deep for some. And we cannot simple talk about it solely from a emotional or biblical or scientific or psychological or spiritual standpoint. All aspects must be considered, because God has made us as integral beings, which includes our body (with all it’s chemicals, hormones, etc), our soul (or heart, which includes emotions and rationale) and spirit (that which is truly the essence of God in us).
            Maybe we could talk more about this, Jonathan, when you’re back here (if you’re the Jonathan Beachy I think you are) Would enjoy a personal chat much more than this back and forth. 🙂

          • Jonathan Beachy says:

            In order to get this close to your original post, I had to hit “Reply” after that post, rather than your reply to my reply. I am moved and encouraged, Daniel, by your desire to be respectful and loving in your response to me, or anyone else. Thank you! I am disappointed that you jumped onto a limb that I did not address directly. My whole point was that Paul seems to be talking about something other than homosexuality here because he talks about men leaving their natural inclinations, pretending to be something they are not. But we can wait to talk about that over mate or terere = ]

            I believe you would very much value being able to participate in a dialogue called “Oriented to Love.” It is sponsored by Evangelicals for Social Action and our main and only goal in meeting was to fulfill the law of Christ, i.e., to love each other, and to come to that point through hearing and seeing, and bearing each other’s pain. “We” represented the full spectrum of understanding/interpretation of understanding regarding sexual minorities, but coming to a common ground was not the point of our gathering, other than to meet at the common ground of the cross of Christ. Matthew Tisareno put it so well afterwards when he wrote about our human desires of wanting to be right: “The problem is not so much a desire to be right as an unwillingness to let go of others that you see as wrong, to let them be responsible to God rather than to yourself.”

            One final thought, for now, on what you wrote when you stated: “…if we’re going to talk about it seriously, it might dig deep for some. And we cannot simple talk about it solely from a emotional or biblical or scientific or psychological or spiritual standpoint.” Daniel, this is not about “it” or an “issue” or a “problem”. Please replace “it” with the name of a gay person you know who has or maybe contemplating suicide. So then, “if we are going to talk about “Tom” seriously, it might dig deeply for some… (me: especially for those who told him better dead than gay). And we cannot simply talk about “Tom” from an emotional or biblical….standpoint.” Carry on this same conversation in the presence of those who have left the church, who have become atheists…. and simply ask, “If what I am saying drives a person to take their life, to leave following Christ, can I truly believe that I am speaking for Jesus.” This is my compass, I can not look at …, …, or …., and say, here, I have an extra piece of rope…

      • Tommy says:

        Like I said at the first of my first post. I am from a VERY heavily populated Mennonite area. Many are my best friends & neighbors and I could not imagine my life without them in my world and in my life. My community are the friendly people. In the area where I live we have had people killed for being who GOD made them. GOD makes you a wondrous creation and then expects you to follow him and allow him to make you all you can be and ever would aspire to be. He loved us so much he granted us a wondrous mind capable of INFINITE learning and enlightenment. Out of everything he loved us most to give us this wondrous gift. I grew up on a rural farm where we earn what we have by the sweat of your brow. You earn and work for everything and i’m very confident that I’ve earned GOD’s love since he lets me know many times a day as we talk while I go about my life. That’s how I know that since he washed away all my sins and reminds me not to create new ones, that gay isn’t one of them. The lusting, longing and unlawful relations however is wrong, BUT, it is also wrong to do these things if you are heterosexual as well. I have a gay Mennonite best friend that I have grown up with and known all my life (I went to a Mennonite school until high school level), we both know that we do indeed love each other. He and I could never pursue or say this though or NEVER act on it in any way since it is not condoned by the church. We would love to stop committing a daily sin by not admitting the truth and be who GOD made us. Instead, we work at the same job together side by side and never say a word. Just think if you as a heterosexual were told that it was wrong to be who you were and you’d have to be homosexual now. How would you feel? How hard would it be to lie to yourself and GOD about who you really were.

        I hope I’ve made a few think about what I have said and treat your brother as you would want to be treated not how they treat you. We are all human with feelings and comparing people to some horrid drug addicts, pedophiles, rapists and the like for something they did not choose nor can they change is wrong. Besides in the end, only GOD can sit in judgement of his children.

        • Helen Lapp says:

          Telling your personal journey takes time and lots of commitment to truth as you have lived it — Thank you!

        • Donovan J. Beyeler says:

          Thank you very much for your personal story and your courage. You are be commended for your attitude and have every right to be who you are with full respect by all of us. I wish you well.

    • Carla says:

      Daniel,
      It took as much courage for you to share as it did for this reverend.
      Thank you for sharing! May the TRUE LIGHT of Jesus Christ be revealed…May His love and what He did on the cross not be portrayed as “not sufficient enough” to bring healing to ALL those who are broken. We are to have the mind of Christ, not of this earth. It’s not a popular message in our world today, but truly, we are to deny our own flesh and seek that which is Kingdom. The good news is that God is good because He is righteous and holy and for ALL who seek His Spirit of Truth, not of another spirit, will indeed find The Way, The Truth, The Life. The Lord wants to show Himself to all those who are humble and contrite of heart. He promises to give answers when we SEEK HIM WITH ALL OUR HEART…if there is confusion, that IS NOT of God. We don’t embrace doctrine of what we FEEL is to be right. We embrace doctrine by way of relationship with Christ and what He REVEALS (rhema word) and THEN what is written in holy scripture (logos word) and third by the testimony of Holy Spirit., NOT by our credentials and life experience. YES, may we love and care for those struggling with desires of the flesh, but may we encourage all to LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, for that is who we are truly created to be…if we have honestly GIVEN OUR LIVES to Christ!

    • D H says:

      ” Wenger’s son, Phil, said he would never have requested his father officiate at the wedding if he had foreseen the repercussions. ”

      -quote from Lancaster Newspaper article Nov 7, ’14

      • Raymond Martin says:

        MCUSA needs this testimony and these responses right now that we might better see where we are on this issue. I am glad I have not seen any extremely angry responses like 2 I heard at our meeting with Ervin at Yoder’s in New Holland. Of course I have not read nearly all of them. Phil unknowingly asked for his fathers participation for “such a time as this.” Does this remind anybody of bathroom graffiti in the women’s bathroom at Assembly ’81? Women in leadership was the issue then. Now technology offers another avenue.

    • Lois Kramer-Cahall says:

      You sir have missed the point. I am not surprised as this was the response I expected.

    • Lloyd Herr says:

      Daniel, my heart was growing very heavy after reading all these posts going against plain Biblical instruction. It seemed like a 2 Timothy 4:3 convention.

      Then, I read your posts and I was encouraged. Thank you for presenting the truth in a respectful and intelligent way! Keep on striving to honor God above all else. William Craig has written some great books and one I have been especially encouraged by is found here

      http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Questions-Answers-William-Craig/dp/1581344872

      Let’ pray that God’s true love and light can shine through us, and that Mr. Wenger will do the same.

  22. Lisa Wenger says:

    My deepest thanks for your truth, your love, and your courage to share these.

  23. Mike B says:

    If this is accepted, then every sin that is listed in the Bible must also be accepted. I agree that you must be living to all sinners but you must not endorse the sin.

    • Derek says:

      That’s terrible logic and I hope you follow Leviticus to the letter of the law.

    • Jenn says:

      Yes we should follow the law of the Bible by not being gay, not wearing poly-cotton blends, forcing women who were sexually assaulted to marry their rapist, never eating shellfish, etc., etc., etc.

      Since you obviously are straight (to “choose” otherwise is a sin, right?), I assume you don’t touch your wife during her period and would be totally cool with marrying your 11 year old daughter off to the highest bidder, right? And you’re totally fine with Lot attempting to throw his virgin daughters to the mob of rapists, right?

  24. Judy Silver says:

    I am not a member of the Mennonite Church. I am a member of the SDA Church…I do not have any personal family member that is homosexual as far as I know…but I often think “what if I did” …and how love is bigger than anything when you love and care. This is a beautiful letter. And I think too that in this world where everything is a mutation of God’s original plan-how can we box people’s lives into unloving boxes…God never ever planned for someone to have Down’s Syndrome …as beautiful as they are in body and spirit …but there is nothing anyone can do to change those genes in one’s body…and I likewise believe that the sexual genes may also have tendencies that are not changeable …why would we ever deny anyone love…and compassion and companionship…? I am not very good at “wording” this…but I am grateful for folks with kind hearted loving hearts as yours to be so strong in your “love and compassion”….thank you for sharing.

  25. Thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring testimony. I hope it encourages other respected leaders in the Mennonite church to carefully consider their own position on the issue.

    I wish a lifetime of happiness and joy for your son and his spouse.

    Best regards,

    Anthony van Dyck
    Taipei, Taiwan

    • Martha Maust says:

      As a biology major, it well known that there is homosexuality throughout nature. So it is natural that it also exists in humans. Our youngest son is gay, not by choice, but something he was endowed with from birth. He has said that he is not hiding the fact that he is homosexual, but that there is no reason why he would choose to be gay. It is the way he is created. I love my son and will always support him.

  26. Ron Adams says:

    Thank you, dear brother Chester. Your letter is beautiful and generous and loving. You and your family are a gift to us all. God bless you as you continue to minister to our Mennonite Church. And may the Holy Spirit grace you with peace as you keep on bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.

  27. Lorraine says:

    The ruthless certainty about what biblical marriage is or isn’t has alienated me from my faith. I cannot call myself a Christian when we treat our gay brothers and sisters so badly. If this is what we believe… then I can’t believe it. And I am lost. Every time I read something like this, I think maybe possibly maybe I will someday find my way home. You, dear sir, know how to give good gifts to your children, like our Father above. Congratulations on your son’s wedding.

    • Blair Lynn Sprouse says:

      What a beautiful encouraging note to the author! I am so sorry Lorraine that you feel lost due to the way that “others” are treated for being “different”. It is easy to SAY your a christian. But living as a Christian is another.
      Chester and Sarah Jane are shining examples of true Christian spirit. Jesus said to love everyone. The Bible scribe’s interpreted scripture. I feel something became lost. We are told to live as Jesus would to love everyone no matter what. Chester and Sarah Jane have embraced this concept. May we all follow their example in spreading the light of God!

    • Martha Maust says:

      Thanks so much Lorraine for your words.

  28. God bless you for loving your son so much. I pray for the day that all churches are welcoming of All people.

  29. Donald Blosser says:

    A blessed statement from a wonderful couple with the history in ministry to give integrity to all they say. You say so well what others of us have also felt. It is a tribute to your faith, your service to God and the church. It was beautifully written. It is my prayer that the church which we love will be inundated with letters written with equal grace inviting us to be the presence of God via Jesus and our own lives to those who are hurting today.
    Thank you so very much

  30. Ed Miller says:

    The Mennonite Church USA could have use a whole lot more of Chester Wenger, his humility, integrity and compassion, and now he has been stripped of his credentials. Thank you Chester. Your actions and words humble this observer.

  31. John Ericson says:

    God bless you! Thank you for bearing witness to the gospel in such a powerful and Christlike manner. You are light and salt.

  32. Stephanie says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Brother Wenger. I pray that our church will continue to hear prophetic voices like yours. The courage in marrying your sons and writing this letter is the courage of saints. I long for the day when congregations can each discern this issue and respect one another for their decision. I long for a day when congregations are not dismissed nor choose to leave over this.

  33. Mary Shank Swartz says:

    As the daughter of Lester and Araminta, I grew up hearing many good things about their friends Chester and Sara Jane. Thank you for the integrity and compassion you have shown in the way you live your life, both then and now.

  34. Marlin Hofer says:

    As a Mennonite Preacher’s son, a former Mennonite, and now an Atheist Homosexual, I believe that Faith Communities are too late to engage in this conversation. You have spent years judging, ignoring, condemning and hating us. I no longer need your support, your acceptance, or your love. I certainly do not need to be tolerated by you or your groups. What I need is civil protections from you and your organizations. Please just go away and leave me and my family alone.

  35. Phyllis Bixler says:

    Discussions among people who disagree on this issue should begin by everyone telling how many gay people they know, how well they know them, and what effect this experience or lack thereof has on their reading of the Bible and Jesus’ example.

    • Debra Bender says:

      Phyllis, I totally agree – having gay relatives and friends can make all the difference in the world. As for Chester’s letter, all I can say is “Wow.” But then I think about older folks I know who have expressed the very same opinions to me privately. “Wow.” And Pope Frank – another example we’d do well to consider; another “Wow!”

      I have a dear gay friend who lives in The Netherlands, married to his partner of almost 30 years. My understanding of the law there is that everyone, gay and straight, must be married in a civil ceremony and are all then granted the same legal, civil rights of marriage. A religious ceremony is an option, based on the couple’s desire and the church’s policy. Sounds like a common sense approach to me. Thanks again, Chester. You made my day!

  36. carol whitney says:

    I, too, have struggled with the biblical view of this matter, given all the people I have known and worked with who are gay, and having been most hurt by the judgmental Christians who have imposed harsh edicts on the behaviors of others…..
    I point to two scriptures
    #1 The first thing in the bible that God declared was “not good” was that it was “not good” for man to be alone. Loneliness is bad.
    #2 Numbers 12 when Aaron and Miriam lodge a complaint against Moses for marrying a Cushite woman. The rule about who a Hebrew could marry clearly was inconsequential in light of the man that Moses was and the work that Moses did. Miriam and Aaron were chastised, Moses, never.

    Those help me… I hope they help you

  37. Matthew Swartz says:

    Great deceptions spring from the idea that everyone who uses a common word (like “love”) is speaking about the same thing. The Christian paradigm for love is set down in the text of scripture and embodied in the life of Christ. Between the Christian and the unbeliever, there can be no possible consensus on the subject of what love is, because Christ is at it’s very heart.

    Discussions of love are everywhere, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll be blinded by the error of thinking they’re all alike. The commonality of emotions we share within the human experience is good and comforting, but it is imperfect. The ‘love’ that flatly contradicts the specific, special words God spoke to us in love (holy scripture) is not love at all, no matter how similar to Christian love it may feel.

    If we trade out God’s Word for a feeling, we’ll be sitting high and dry when our feelings change, as all human feelings inevitably do. I implore my fellow Christians and fellow Anabaptists to elevate that which is permanent and unchanging, that which we can know and base our lives upon, over that which “feels right,” or makes things go more smoothly within our social circles. All through scripture, love is opposition to sin; not cruel or vindictive opposition, but kind and direct opposition.

  38. Robert Bowman Gerwig says:

    Dear Brother and Sister in Christ, Chester and Sara Jane,
    It is the healing balm of testimony such as yours here that keeps me within Seattle Mennonite Church which I began attending on the Third Sunday in Advent 2004, and where I was baptized exactly six years later (on 12/12/2010) at the age of 57.
    I have been celibate for 23 years, the precise amount of time I’ve had AIDS. The first 13 years were due solely to profound illness. The 10 years since have been due solely and soulfully to profound healing. The conversation-dialog-debate-destruction-healing within MCUSA that I have witnessed and participated in at SMC in recurring cycles for these past 10 years is too intense for me to continue in that aspect of our Church Life.
    When I said this during Worship last Summer to my dear congregation, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and embraced by the Love of my Spiritual Family that my non-religious birth family has never provided since I came out gay in 1973, age 20.
    I said that I was blessed to have straight members of our Family who continue our Struggles-With-God on my behalf. I also said that just as it wasn’t up to African-Americans to bestow human and civil rights on themselves in the 1950s-60s, it was up to the white majority in power, it’s not up to those of us who are LGBTQAnabaptists to bestow Church inclusion on ourselves, it is up to the straight majority in power. Afterwards, the teen-age son of a couple and family I hold dear shared with me that he “Got It” and I was and am filled with the Holy Spirit to continue my Walk.

    Blessings and the Peace of Christ be with your son and his partner and on their loving parents. God bless you both.

    Bob Gerwig
    Seattle, WA

    • Robert Bowman Gerwig says:

      One Replier to Pastor Wenger’s Open Letter has shared a pivotal moment in having a conversation with “a gay Christian man, who longed for a life partner and did not feel called to singleness.” I don’t believe the remark was in response to my Reply. It did strike a very familiar chord of pain in my life and I feel called to respond to that shared longing. I want to add the following to my testimony by first thanking the other Replier for that sensitive witness.

      I cannot describe myself as ever feeling “called to singleness.” I had a clear vision at age 4 years, 10 months about what it was about me that made a very few people I felt real Love from treat me with a special tender deference while others had a clear “ick factor” in response to me, especially in my immediate family.

      I recounted above that my first 13 years with AIDS (1991-2004) were an on-going hell of overlapping Opportunistic Infections and explosive shingles on my face and scalp that kept me in a perpetual state of palliative care for four years when newly developed neurosurgery allowed me to eliminate the end-of-life levels of intravenous morphine in a life which didn’t end on cue (1994-1998). I now use a much lower maintenance dose in tablet form. I’ve taken morphine every day for over 20 years and will continue for “the Duration” to use the medical phraseology for “the rest of my life.”

      I was too pre-occupied with my journey with-In to try to manage my In-curable diseases to even think about relationships or loneliness. I was busy around the clock. I still am. But since my first exposure to Mennonites at Seattle Mennonite Church (SMC) on December 12, 2004, I have returned to my teen-age ideals of saving myself for one person after we marry, in my case to someone of the same gender. I wanted then and have chosen since my radical healing in 2004 to hold myself to the same standard held to heterosexual Mennonites. No sex outside a monogamous marriage. Period. I have the “advantage” of an illness that is so messy and off-putting and testosterone-depleting that I don’t feel the aching pain I felt as a teen-ager until I “came out” gay at age 20. That was a catastrophe that shocked me in my mis-reading of how my friends and family would react in 1973. It turned my already wounded and traumatized emotional life inside out. I dropped out of UCSantaBarbara and moved to one of San Francisco’s three primarily LGBTQ neighborhoods in 1975, age 21, for “safety” in numbers.

      Since I made a Right Royal Mess of my teen-age ideals of saving myself for one male life-partner and will pay for that for the rest of my earthly life, I’ve turned that department over to God the Father, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit to inform me if the Loving Plan made for me is to remain single or to be led to the one selected for me as well as my sexual orientation before my birth. Those are my personal beliefs. I am not evangelical and have no interest in trying to convert others to my beliefs based on what God has been revealing to me throughout my life.

      My history is a litany of not being able to discern who I could trust and who would betray me in such spectacular ways, before and since HIV, as to change my life on earth. My *passion* is that I am encouraged by and hopeful about the opportunities available to today’s LGBTQ teen-agers to witness those of us who despite all odds have turned around the run-away train of death and devastation from the terror and tyranny of homophobia, within and with out the Church and from other LGBTQs as well as heterosexuals, religious and non-religious, who practice shunning and shaming, overtly and covertly. And I am OUTRAGED that today’s LGBTQAnabaptist teens are *still* subjected by Anabaptist Followers of Christ Jesus to my teen-age terror of the 1960s and -70s from the powerful and hostile majority.

      May the Peace of Christ stay my hand of anger from turning on my surviving family members and specific other individuals to rub their faces in their crimes against nature. It has always been an option and a temptation. It took me 51 years and AIDS to find my natural Family and the majority shun and punish me just as my ex-Mennonite, ex-Christian family continues to do. It is so hard not to drop verbal or written bombs on the lot of us. It is so hard to turn the other cheek for the powerful in my family and in my church and Church to whack me again, to kick me, both figuratively and literally, when I’m down on the ground, and they’ve done so in the name of Jesus Christ.

      May the Peace of Christ enter into Mennonite Church USA to prevent us from taking, as retired SMC pastor Weldon Nisly put it, “the easy way out,” by schism. “FU, I’m not going to take it anymore,” is not what Jesus would do.

      I invite and challenge people who claim to be Mennonite Anabaptist Christians and Followers of Jesus to leave the judging to God and get on with the Love of Christ. We’ve all had the “Be Jesus” scared out of us. “Mennonites have a tendency to schism at the drop of a hat.” And using buttons rather than hooks. And using gasoline engines and electricity and smartphones. And divorce and remarrying. And the ordination of women. And. It is a sad, sad witness watching MCUSA, having united horse-and-buggy Mennonites with today’s iPad Mennonites in 2000, teetering on the verge of another schism along lines of how radical to extend the radical hospitality of Christ. How can one Follow Jesus and simultaneously Expel the Lepers Within? We know what quoting Scripture does to all sides on all issues. Let us try refraining from quoting Scripture on this hugely divisive issue. Let us demonstrate our “Be Jesus” with our Sacred Heart with-In us, with each other’s wounded selves.

      I’ll end by sharing the two questions a much loved spiritual guide asked me in 1980, five years before HIV entered my body and life (and she continues to do so with everyone), framed in the vernacular to speak to an audience deeply wounded by the Church:
      “Would you rather be happy?
      “or would you rather be right?”

      If that sounds flippant or superficial, translate it into Christian-speak:
      “Would you rather be filled with the Holy Spirit and enter into the Joy of the Kingdom of Heaven with-In our true Selves on earth?
      “or would you rather be self-righteous and do God’s judgment before His Day?”

      Thank you for including and reading my testimony.

      Bob Gerwig
      Seattle, WA

      • Dear brother Robert,

        I am deeply touched by your testimony. I found myself repeatedly moved to tears as I read it aloud to my wife. My heart is filled with sorrow for the pain you’ve sustained and the injuries you’re carrying. My heart is tenderized by your words of what I would call “defiant hope.” Thank you for your strong witness and for your honest naming what needs naming.

        Be well, my brother.

        Chuck Neufeld

  39. Tamara L. says:

    This struck such a deep cord in me. I’ve often felt that the position of the Church is at odds with the Compassion we see in the Life of Christ. Someone already mentioned that you have the “courage of the saints” in both writing this, and living as you do. Thank you for being such an example of courage and compassion. Slowly, the Church is being surprised by the amount of God’s Grace we find “out here”…..right where He intended it.

  40. Marvin Toll says:

    Having found this “open letter” to be thought-provoking; I intend to prayerfully examine my own position on this topic in the days and weeks ahead.

    Thank you Chester for framing the question in such an authentic context.

    • Keith Espenshade says:

      Marvin, I was touched by your openness to reexamine your beliefs. On this issue, and many others that we hold dear, there is an extreme lack of openness to consider other perspectives. I am often reminded that I need to remain open to hearing from those with whom I disagree.

  41. Clayton Steiner says:

    Thank you for articulating the “Good News” of the Gospel. We all need its love and grace as demonstrated by Jesus.

  42. Carolyn Heggen says:

    What a gift you have given us, Brother Wenger, in sharing publicly your personal position! I continue to be baffled and disappointed by the number of church leaders who when asked to share their understanding of a faithful denominational response to those among us who are LGBTQ reply, “Do you want to know my personal belief or my public position?” I know of no other issue where so many leaders feel compelled to make this distinction and it grieves me. Thank you for taking the risk of speaking with honesty, integrity and love.

    Carolyn Holderread Heggen

  43. please think says:

    Yes, we need to love all people. But that doesn’t mean we should pretend an action which the Bible describes as sin is not a sin. Please read Leviticus 18: incest, homosexual behavior, and sex with animals are all described as sin in this context. If homosexual behavior is OK, then is incest OK? We should love all persons, including those who identify themselves as “homosexuals.” But the Church should not endorse homosexual behavior, because the Bible clearly teaches that homosexual behavior is wrong.

    As a young adult, I would be grieved to see the Mennonite Church endorse homosexual behavior. Should we eliminate certain parts from the Bible simply because they are difficult or make us feel uncomfortable? I certainly hope not! Sadly, it appears the homosexual-agenda-pushers seek to cause a split in the Mennonite Church. Usually, folks like me keep silent because we are afraid of all the judgment and intolerance from those who disagree with us. I’m not sure if I’m in the silent majority or now in the silent minority, but I just had to say these things. Even if you disagree with me, please think! And please read Leviticus 18 and Romans 1 before, arriving at emotional conclusions.
    With Christ’s love

    • Herb Reed says:

      Dear “please think”

      Your words lose a great deal of power when you don’t have the courage to own them by putting in an actual name. Please read the whole book of Leviticus and see how much of it you are following before quoting it to others. You sign your letter “With Christ’s Love” but the name calling phrase “homosexual agenda pushers” conflicts with that spirit.
      Herb Reed

    • Olaf Welling says:

      Oh yes, Mr. or Ms. “please think”, we should un-emphasize quite some parts of the bible. Some are inconsistent with others, some are outdated since the the new covenant of Jesus Christ. So there is no obligation any more for a deceased’s brother to marry the widow, the commandment not to eat pork and mussels is no longer of importance, neither the ban on mixed cloth nor the permission to sell one’s children into slavery. The important message is first: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mk 12, 31-31) And when you love thy neighbour, you will leave any judgement not to yourself, not even to the earthly church, but just to the just judgement of the Lord.

  44. John Sellens says:

    Dear Mr and Mrs Wenger (as I assume is appropriate),

    You are obviously wise and caring people and parents. You have likely seen and experienced many changes over the course of your lifetimes thus far. Some people resist and fight change, some embrace our growing understanding of the world and the people within, and use it to enhance their lives, and the lives of others. You clearly fall into the second category.

    I am reminded of Archbishop Desmond Tutu who said “The Bible is the word of God through the words of human beings, speaking in the idiom of their time. And the richness of the Bible comes from the fact that we don’t take it as literally so, that it was dictated by God.” The idioms, circumstances, and understanding change over time, but the underlying messages of love and caaring endure, as you clearly demonstrate.

    Your love, compassion and kindness set an example that we could all do well to follow.

    John Sellens

  45. Johnny Stoll says:

    You are a courageous man, Mr. Wenger, however age does not always mean wisdom. You have made an unwise choice and have thrown those you love in turmoil.

  46. Jennifer Scoville Huff says:

    Pastor Wenger, thank you so, so much–though I and my family were raised Catholic, I grew up surrounded by a loving Mennonite community and am forever grateful for that. I have many close friends who are LGBT, and know the deep and spiritual struggles they face. You have ‘ubuntu’–an African concept for the deep understanding that we are all one family under God, and as such, have a relationship and responsibility for each other, and a hospitality that transcends labels. Many blessings to you and your family.

  47. Thomas Matheny says:

    There are reference to God condemning fleshly lust and sexual unions other than between a man and a woman who have joined in marrage.

    Homosexual Union is condemned and is no part of the kingdom of God

    Popular culture is not the standard God will judge by.

    With out a revival organizations that seek to be part in The Church are but a sounding brass and clanging simble.

    Study the scripture.

    • Donovan J. Beyeler says:

      Brother, I say study the scriptures yourself lots and lots more before you become so rigidly disposed in what appears to be your ‘wooden’ interpretation of scripture. Scripture should always be taken in context. There is a good case to be made that Paul was speaking of pederasty so prevalent in his day just like is common in places like Afghanistan today. Perhaps you should find out what pederasty really is before you go on. Take care.

    • Derek says:

      I agree that you need to read the red letters of the New Testament a few more times before you throw out your judgment on the topic.

  48. Lorrain says:

    @pleasethink ~ I could not agree more. God will not be mocked by this wicked tolerance of sin. We may not be led by our emotions. God’s word is so clear on this issue. A true christian will not pick and choose what he/she wants to believe out of the scriptures. Churches are changing all right, but God is not.

    • Tommy says:

      Seems like your certainly “picking” my friend. Count the time that the New Testament mentions love and compassion, Then count the 3 times it mentions homosexuality. I’m pretty certain Romans tells you after it mentions homosexuality those that judge these things who are not GOD are even worse off. I personally try to stay off the judges podium since that’s reserved for GOD. I try to treat and love others like I would like to be treated and loved. Just my thoughts. Have a blessed evening.

  49. Charlie Kraybill says:

    Congratulations, Phil and Steve! Congratulations, Chester and Sara Jane! Phil, I well remember sitting on the front porch of the house at 13th & Kenyon in D.C., around 1979 or 1980, when you confidently announced to me that you’re gay. I thought you were brave then, and I think you’re brave now. Obviously you get that trait from your parents.

  50. Take Off the Blinders says:

    So Pastor Wenger is now the authority on this issue? He is ‘wise’ and ‘courageous’ because of his recent change in ideology? I think not! It is true, he has made an unwise choice as someone previously stated. So sad that a person who so many people have been (and still are) influenced by can be dragged along and warped by popular culture into the belief that the homosexual sin is to be tolerated. You can’t be a Christ-FOLLOWER and adamantly oppose his commands, can you? People, God hasn’t changed, isn’t changing, and won’t change – even if a 96 yr old person does. God’s commands trump all, of that fact there is no denying.

    • Martha Maust says:

      Dear “Take off the Blinders”,

      I’m sorry you didn’t have the courage to put your name on your comments. I was raised in the Mennonite Church and taught our sons values of the church. But my gay son has declared that he is atheist and with attitudes like yours, there is no welcoming in the church for my son.

      • Jonathan Beachy says:

        Martha Maust, my heart grieves for you and your son. Know that you both are loved and beautiful to God, and that the church who rejected your son did not speak for God, for God is love!

    • Derek says:

      I see you have your blinders fully in place. I pray you come to a better understanding of love, empathy, and compassion.

  51. Sally says:

    Thank you so much for your honesty and compassion. I have shared your article with a number of friends, including a priest whose gay daughter has recently married, with her blessing.

    Two encounters were pivotal in my life: a conversation decades ago with a gay Christian man, who longed for a life partner and did not feel called to singleness; and more recently the study of Yancey’s book “What’s so amazing about grace?” in our church cell group.

    Both brought into focus in a heart way what I already knew in my head; that God’s love is unconditional, that God wants us to love others unconditionally and that we should leave the judging to God.

    If the church worldwide spent as much energy on addressing real issues (such as poverty, war, domestic violence, abuse of women and children, pollution, corruption, drug addiction etc), as it does on the making gays feel unloved, we would see huge growth in those coming to know the love of Jesus.

    All strength to you and your family from South Africa where, at least constitutionally, we protect the rights of gay folk, although we have a long way to go in practice.

  52. No Longer Mennonite says:

    My heart is saddened that this is even a topic for discussion/debate in the church I was raised in and my family loves. While Mennonites have seen the judgemental side of shunning and shaming in the past, it is clear the church has allowed the pendulum to swing too far to the other side, right along with the ultra PC nature of our society. No longer is sin treated as sin. No longer do we hear things like, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” The church has allowed itself to believe the lies of the world that we have no choice in our sin so therefore it must be okay and we should be accepted that way. Where does it stop? When do we acknowledge the need for repentance? Yes, we’re “born that way”….we’re born with a sinful nature! Living a holy, Godly life does not come natural to us!

    My husband and I left the Mennonite church 20 years ago because we saw this on the horizon. We now belong to a church that preaches the Bible, isn’t afraid to challenge sin, yet is extremely welcoming to the unchurched. God doesn’t change. His definition of sin doesn’t change. The world around us has changed and I’m very sad that the Mennonite church has allowed the world to shape it into its mold.

  53. Mark and Mary Hurst says:

    Thank you Chester and Sarah Jane for your courage, wisdom, and deep love for the church and her Lord. May the grace and peace of God be with you.

  54. Rick Yoder says:

    Bless you Wengers. May our church institutions find the same light.

  55. Berry Friesen says:

    The comments reveal efforts to characterize Rev. Wenger’s letter and his participation in his son’s wedding into set agendas. That’s unsurprising, but it is a distortion all the same.

    As we honor Rev. Wenger with our words, let us also pay close attention to his. He’s not taking issue with the Bible, nor undermining what it says. He’s not saying that secular civil rights ideology trumps what the Bible says.

    Instead, Rev. Wenger is speaking the language of the Bible into the brokenness of the world. “It is a broken, complex, messy, violent and yet wonderful world. God’s mercy-filled grace infuses our broken world with a goodness that keeps surprising us with joy—and healing. God’s grace also calls us to faithfully love God and neighbor above all else.”

    Obviously, Rev. Wenger is asking the Mennonite church to make changes. But he does so within the discourse of the Bible, not the discourse of the empire. As we laud Rev. Wenger, let us also pay attention to what he says.

  56. David Leaman says:

    Thank you for standing on the side of love and letting your light shine.

  57. Beth Yoder Parson says:

    Thank you for this beautiful, graceful letter filled with the wisdom of one who has spent 96 years on this earth with an open mind, heart and soul. May our vision come from eyes wide open to see all who have been created in this colorful, complicated and wonderful world.

  58. Kenny says:

    I have read the Bible severally and found it a complete encyclopedia of God’s love and mercy. The story of a father seeking out his already messed up and lost son which after finding him brought him in, clean him up and dressed him up in royal attires.
    A doctor is useless without sick people so the son of God came to save the lost.
    Sin-list is numerous and fellowship / church is the cleansing ground, refuge centres and place of succor for the harassed and tossed.
    The contradiction I found these days has to do with the church loosing sight of her purpose on earth – Jesus was friend of sinners, He made room for them not their way of lives. In other words, He will show them love, address the issue of sin and get them converted from their perverted path.
    While I do not hate any homosexual person, the scripture is abundantly clear that it is ungodly
    Romans1: 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
    There’s a thin line between the truth and heresy, let every man take heed to what they’ve learnt of the Lord not what the society fancies.

    • John Harder says:

      Kenny, thank you for quoting from Romans 1, which provides an excellent example of biblical text that refers to same-sex relations, but in the context of wanton abandonment of God and adherence to a hedonistic, evil lifestyle…not a context of love between two people. I agree that the bible is abundantly clear that lustful behavior, sexual immorality, and degrading of the human body is not of God; I do not find it at all clear that homosexual love between two people is not of God.
      We all are made in God’s image. As hard as it may be for heterosexuals (myself included) to fully understand, it has become abundantly clear to me through study, prayer, and listening to my brothers and sisters, that alternate sexual orientation is part of that image.
      God is our creator and sustainer. God is love. God is all. We understand only a tiny part of God. We see dimly now, but one day, we will understand.

      • Merle N says:

        Out of a spirit of love and empathy for my friends with other sexual preferences, I sincerely want to come to similar conclusions as yours. Your comments help identify my inner tensions. You seem to have clearly identified some areas in which, for you, the Bible speaks unequivocally: “I agree that the bible is abundantly clear that lustful behavior, sexual immorality, and degrading of the human body is not of God.” What makes this so clear for you, in contrast to what others find to be “so clear” for them? Is it possible that “lustful behavior” and “sexual immorality” are not always displeasing to God after all–if I really understand how my version of these “sins” is not the harmful kind that the Bible addresses? How can I know when my lifestyle is “hedonistic, evil”? How do we actually know what God condemns, for real?

  59. John Wiens says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how we throw ourselves into knots to try and treat “others” as though they are not just an extension of me or you. It also never ceases to amaze when anyone chooses to contradict Christs’ own teachings in the name of righteousness.

    Christ said that the most important laws are: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two laws hang all the law and the prophets. (he was including himself)

    Christ really gave us plenty on the love side of the ledger. In fact, he said it twice. He didn’t say “discern if you should love your neighbor” or “Love the lord your god but only in these few acceptable ways and it’s not for everyone.”

    Christ chose to spend his time with the shunned, the unpopular, and the disenfranchised. Anyone who pretends to be Christian but won’t follow his central teachings and example should reexamine the way they approach his teachings.

  60. John Harder says:

    It seems that after many years of struggling with the issue of same-sex attraction and alternative sexuality in general within the Mennonite Church, in terms of congregational acceptance and welcoming, and more difficultly in terms of appointment of LBGTQ folks to leadership positions up to and including ordination as pastors, most Mennos have come down on one side or the other of the fundamental questions: Is homosexual orientation a deviation from God’s plan? Is homosexual activity sin? I don’t believe it’s a stretch to state that most who come down on the side of Yes to these questions have always believed that from their church and home Christian upbringing and reading of scripture; and those who say No have come to that understanding over time…yes, largely due to cultural understanding through increased awareness and openness of gay people to share their stories, but not without struggling to make sense of how the bible and God and the Holy Spirit are leading us to be people of God in our world. Yes, it’s a 21st Century world; yes, it’s a modern world. It’s the world in which we live, that God has given us to live and love in and work for justice for all.
    I think it’s also likely that most people will not change their minds much on these issues. However if people at least can agree to open their hearts and minds to just consider, for a moment, that perhaps what they always have believed to be true is in fact not entirely true, we have a chance for survival as One Body. Because I fear that this dichotomy is such that the two sides have a fairly large chasm between them, and that schism within the Mennonite Church may be inevitable. Historically schism has been part of Anabaptist history, and sad as it is to divide God’s people, it is not all bad.
    I would like to speak for a moment longer on just one aspect of this debate: the extremely important issue of what the bible says (and does not say) regarding homosexuality. There is no doubt that passages speak to same-sex sexual behavior in a negative light, as sin, but in the context of wanton promiscuity and hedonism of people who have fallen from God…not a loving relationship between two committed people. I think this is very important.
    Loren Johns, professor at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, has created a 37-minute video discourse on these topics which helped me tremendously in my own (and our church community’s) journey to grapple with them. Johns is a biblical scholar with a deep sense of calling to work toward continuing to grow as God’s people living in today’s world.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og7GrtwjJTw

  61. Nancy Williams says:

    Dear Chester and Sarah Jane:
    What a heartfelt and deeply sincere response to the issue of homosexuality and how the Mennonite Church is struggling to deal lovingly with homosexual mbers. I have only known you both for a short period of time, but this relationship has enriched my life and made it very clear that your positions are well defined and supported by Scripture. I stand proudly by your side in the position you have taken. May more of our Mennonite brethren come to accept our homosexual members; and not only accept, but welcome them with open arms, as would Jesus.
    Blessings and love to you both and to your family.

  62. Joseph Stalin says:

    I am glad to see someone approach this subject with objectivity and who is scripturally defined. What does it matter who censors or approves of that which we think? God only has that power and I believe when we are truly seeking His will for us, he has our backs. The gay equality issue is huge all over our country and there are way too many who claim to know the “truth” but are much too judgmental in their discussions.

    I am not a gay person but I do have friends that are gay and I also have Christian gay friends. The idea of being married to each other is a municipal question, not a spiritual question at all. It is about granting married privileges to those who are gay and want to be treated “lawfully” as a married couple. There is nothing here that suggests this as being a biblical question.

    Bretheren, let us love one another for love is of God and he that loveth, knoweth God for God is Love.

  63. Anne says:

    Thank you! Thank you! My 2 children both preferred same gender relationship, although both had tried to be ‘straight’.
    When we went to a wedding last December and when my daughter asked what would I do when she finally marries her partner, I cried.
    I told her no matter how much I love her, I might never be able to invite my friends / colleagues who are not as accepting as I am, religion aside. However, I have long taught them the ways of the Lord, and they are of an age where they have their own relationship with our Lord, so if it is something our Lord is upset with, I can only seek His forgiveness for ‘condoning’ such behaviour and wisdom how to continue to love my children as He would want me to love. I believe He will tell them if He is happy with them and they will continue to seek to do His will.
    Thank you for your encouraging open letter. Bless you.

  64. Liz Dyer says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and calling for your community of faith to rethink their approach. I have a private Facebook support group for moms of lgbt kids who love their lgbt kids unconditionally and want to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for their kids and family to live. There are more than 240 moms in the group and we continue to grow. So many of the moms have left the faith communities they have trusted and given their life to because it didn’t turn out to be a safe place for their kids or family to be. The moms group is such a help and comfort for them because they realize they are not alone. We share a lot of info with one another, tell our stories, pray for each other and learn and grow together. If anyone is interested in more info about the group they can email me at lizdyer55@gmail.com

    I pray that your story will be heard by those who have ears to hear.

  65. shadowspring says:

    Thank you so much for this open letter, and for your faithfulness to Jesus Christ. The modern American Christian machine is turning many away from our beloved Savior by their exclusion, demonization of their fellow man, and their self-righteous pride. It is so refreshing on those rare occasions when I encounter the teaching of a true follower of Jesus.

    I am so encouraged by your faithful service and love.

    =)

  66. Momma Kuhns says:

    2 Timothy 4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    “Preach the Word”
    4 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with [a]great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

  67. frommerman says:

    As an atheist, I must say that you are a wonderful father and a terrible mennonite. Perhaps you should visit an Episcopal Church as well. If I were capable of having religious experiences, that is where I’d be. More people who truly love their neighbor are there than anywhere else.

    • Donovan J. Beyeler says:

      Frommerman, I respect your right to be an atheist but I don’t at all agree with you that Chester and Sara Jane are terrible Mennonites. I bare to disagree with you. They are exactly the kind of Mennonites that all Mennonites should be and should be deeply respected. They are the kind of people that help keep people like me in the Mennonite Church and not become the atheist or agonist that I could have become. Even atheists and agnostics have potential to eventually become Mennonites with new reflections of the universe that has existed now for 13.7 billion years and a fresh evaluation of the possibility of personal God. Perhaps science oriented that who may be, you might appreciate as I have, the writings of Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne, of Eastern Orthodox persuasion especially in his book ‘Is There a God’ and the book ‘The Evolution of Adam’ by Peter Enns. I wish you well.

  68. Notty Bumbo says:

    I am not a Christian, and feel no need to hold such beliefs. But I value above all else truthful ethics, and see in this letter a rare example of what should be the common character of all people. The bushel is to hold and carry the harvest. Hiding beneath it denies the harvest, and thus starves the people.

  69. Mary-Anne says:

    To those of you who are condemning of the lgbt lifestyle let me, as a gay person, ask you a few questions:

    Do you think I chose this orientation? Believe me, I would give anything to not face the persecution I feel.

    Are you as condemnatory of heterosexual people who don’t live up to your high sexual standards?

    Do you have a problem with heterosexuals getting butterflies in their gut when they see someone of the opposite sex who is attractive? Or holding hands before marriage? If not, you are accepting of their sexuality as a part of their personality, only you expect them to restrain themselves from full sexual involvement until after marriage – right?

    So if my sexuality causes me to be attracted by the same sex, am I “sinning” when I feel these butterflies? If I hold hands with another woman? Where are you going to draw the line for me, or am I to totally deny a very essential part of who I am and how God has created me? I find the “love the sinner, hate the sin” offensive. How can you love me, yet deny a very essential part of my being? No one is asexual.

    You can choose to stay single or to be celibate until you get married – your choice. You are leaving me no choice if I find someone I believe is my soul mate. I believe in monogamous, for-life commitment, something not seen much today in the heterosexual world.

    Shouldn’t the church be welcoming lgbt couples and helping them to live godly unions, rather than chasing them away? I know very few gay Christians (particularly here in the South) and I am not surprised.

    • Basil Williams says:

      Dear Mary Anne,

      I agree with what you have to say! I was raised in A Pentecostal Family. I knew how our church feels about this same topic. I as well has been gay since I was very young. I tried myself to be in a STRAIGHT Relationship but I could not because I felt as if I was betraying who I really was!
      I earnestly seek to serve God as best as I know how. One scripture that has helped me many times over the last 10 years is this: “When thou wast in thy mothers womb, I knitted thee together.:” I know that God made me exactly the way that I am supposed to be!
      Some people will never understand what its like to be on the other side of the fence and know how it feels to be ridiculed and oppressed for being what God made us!

      In Christ Love,
      B Williams

  70. Lois Martin Greene says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful and loving letter. In deciding how to interpret the Bible, I find Jesus’ statement of the first and greatest commandment and the second commandment that is like it, to be the best guide. “Love the Lord your God….Love your neighbor as yourself”.

  71. Linse Miller says:

    Thank you for sharing Mr. Wenger. Your letter was so touching and moved me to tears. The love and forgiveness that you show gives me hope that we live in a world that may be able to someday show the same love and peace to all regardless of our many differences. May God bless you and your family.

  72. John Hayden says:

    Using John 17:21 to cancel Romans 1:32? Pretty confused!

  73. Everett Thomas says:

    This new website is working well for responses. Wow!

    • Herb Reed says:

      Yes the new website is working but I would suggest limiting the number of lines in responses – some responses are very long – if people want to post large amounts of text verbatim they should have to use a link or in the case of scripture, the citation.

      Also I think full names which correspond to an email address should be required – no pseudonyms or just first names.

  74. Wayne Wilson says:

    ““He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

    “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!”

  75. Deb Laws-Landis says:

    Chester and Sarah Jane, for many years and now, are loving examples of God’s spirit alive in our midst.

  76. Herb Myers says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story – a journey of faith and integrity. May we learn as you have to follow the spirit of the Scriptures instead of the letter of the law. I believe that was Jesus’ way.

  77. Diane T. says:

    Thank you for following truth that is beyond the simplistic interpretation of scripture that we have grown up with. The four verses in the Bible that bring up homosexuality need to be read and studied in their context and with the intent that they were written. What was God really talking about? It was only after my dear son expressed concern that he might be gay, that I was forced to really diligently study God’s word on this topic, and change my mind….it was not easy, but it was right. God has so much more to say about promiscuity, gossip, stealing etc. and how they really are sins, than who his people would want to spend their lives with whether they are gay or straight. God is so holy and loving. He will direct our understanding when we prayerfully and humbly seek His truth.

  78. JHYoder says:

    Love is one thing and Good and Godly. Condoning sin and aiding it is not love

  79. JHYoder says:

    PS. These issues make me very glad I am to no longer a member of the Mennonite Church

  80. Judy and Byard Yoder says:

    Chester and Sara,

    Thank you for opening this crack to let the light shine a little brighter. It has been such a previlage to get to know you these last few years. Amen and Amen!

  81. Byron Rempel-Burkholder says:

    I’m inspired the grace, courage, and integrity of this statement. Thanks! God grant us all light and love for these days.

  82. Carolynn Cruickshank says:

    To Mr. Chester Wenger. I watched the news then read what you wrote. Thank You. I wish more parents were as understanding as you were. The world would be a better place. A son could not have a better mom and dad then yourself and your wife. Bless you and your family

  83. Glaser83 says:

    We are all gods creatures and all made different for a reason we should all love each other no matter what goes on behind the sheets it’s there personal buisness as long as they are not hurting us who cares this is what’s wrong with the world today why there is so much war and hate because not everyone is the same or doesn’t have the same beliefs maybe instead of hating we can learn something from someone different it’s ignorant to not ecsept someone for there private life even animals in the wild are homosexual (elephants . Giraffes . Penguins etc…

  84. colleen brennan says:

    i vote for chester day in lancaster…love.love..love…we need more people in the world like this

  85. Kristen says:

    Thank you so much for telling your story and offering these words. So many will disagree with the actions you’ve taken, but I believe those disagreements miss the point: what you do, you do in love.

    I won’t pretend to know much about the theology of your church. As it seems, it has served you well over the years, teaching you love and compassion and a great respect for family and humanity.

    Continue to follow your heart and God will lead you.

    Blessings, friends.

  86. Vern Smoker says:

    I’m almost literally sick in my stomach after reading the above letter and quotes . It’s a no brainer. If God calls homosexuality a sin, it’s a sin no matter how hard we try to explain it away.

    • Derek says:

      You’ve got it all wrong Vern and need to reexamine your view of things. I know there are plenty of things in the Bible you continually guilty of. Just start in Leviticus and start reading and if you follow all these rules then start casting stones. I’m sure greed is in your heart and you’ve worshipped the golden calf more than a few times. Be honest.

  87. […] the church. If you are not yet among the more than 68.000 readers of Wenger’s letter you may join them here.  No matter what your view of homosexuality the compassionate letter from this 96 year old brother […]

  88. Josh says:

    As I read the letter and most of the respones to the letter there is a lot of personal interpretation of what they “feel” scripture says and what culture is dictating we should believe in and what should be allowed. Degradation and hate by the church as a whole is a huge injustice displayed by the church! Barring any sinner from the church for their transgressions is “casting the first stone”, but this by no means that we should promote behaviors directly forbidden by scripture.

    As such whether you are someone who cheats on their spouse, murders, lies or lives a homosexual life style the Bible refers to them as sin. None of us are exempt from God’s judgement. When we promote these sins within the church through marriage or giving them places of authority are we not promoting the sinful behavior. For example if a pastor who cheats on his wife and is allowed to remain the head of his church are we not saying this is acceptable behavior. Are we not called to repent of our sins and strive to be like Christ.

    At the church I attend we run a program called “Living Waters” which is designed to walk with people through all types of sexual and relational healing. There is room for healing and change though the help of the Holy Spirit.

  89. Stephen says:

    Matt 7:13 – 14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

    The wide gate and broad way in this world is to embrace the ways of the world and the values of the sin-filled world. We aren’t promised that life will be easy and without challenge, but we are promised, if we believe and trust in the Lord, turn from our wicked ways and follow Him, that He will be with us.

    The world (at least in Western culture) is telling us that practicing homosexuality should be tolerated…out of love, out of respect, out of mutuality. Well, the world doesn’t determine what is a sin…the Lord does, and He has not changed. Having gay urges is not a sin anymore than having the urge to steal/lie/cheat…these are opportunities to trust in the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation. Surrendering to sinful desires of this flesh is sin…repent and turn away and sin no more.

  90. Daniel King says:

    Laying aside interpretation of scripture — lying, stealing, murder, unforgiveness, hatred, strife, fear, faithlessness, fornication, adultery, deception, worry…….. all produce death instead of life —– and are all condemned in scripture because they don’t produce life.

  91. Jonathan says:

    Why is it that so many people set themselves up as judges and are so quick to condemn. Is your world so cut and dried, so black and white. If you are going to follow old testament law, then you better do so. That would put all hog farmers in the US out of business because that meat was unclean.
    However if you look at the life of Christ, you see a different picture of the way that God relates to his people. Who did Christ condemn? Why is it that our churches are so concerned with sexual issues, but cannot deal with the fact that the church is more or less silent when church members get wealthy by exploiting fellow humans; in fact we make heroes out of them.
    Having grown up in the church where our leaders managed to find biblical reasons why dancing and drinking were sins, and in some churches women are not allowed to be leaders, why am I not surprised that we can still find biblical reasons for anything we either don’t like or don’t understand? Is your God really that small, that there is no room for gays in the Kingdom?

    If we hold ourselves up to be so morally pure, why are you not treating persons that divorce and remarry the same as you are treating gays? After all there is biblical justification for that as well.

  92. Joann says:

    Dear Chester and Sarah Jane,

    Thank you for your loving letter and deep faith. I am sorry for the suffering you and your family endured and pray for peace for each of you. I believe the transformation of your suffering into love is exactly what Christ calls us to do. Your children are fortunate to have loving, committed parents who live out their faith courageously. Congratulations and blessings to you both, your son, and his partner!

    Your love lights shine on!

  93. Phil Mininger says:

    Thank you Chester and Sara Jane; not just for your letter but for your life long ministry to and for the church! Your letter teaches us the hard work of listening to and discerning the Spirit of Christ for each generation, rather than believing God’s Word stopped with the pages of the Bible.

  94. Dennis Westler says:

    Though as a gay man I understand where you are coming from as regards your position on the Mennonite church and your gay son and though I appreciate where your struggle has lead you, it was nonetheless insulting to me as a Jew to read your comment regarding circumcision. The Jewish covenant of circumcision and Christianity in any of its forms are absolutely unrelated, just as Christianity and Judaism are unrelated theologically. There was no reason to bring it up at all. We ARE NOT unfulfilled Christians, and Christianity IS NOT an extension of, or completion of, Judaism. Christianity is wholly unrelated to and not at all theologically derived from Judaism. To refer to circumcision as if it has some relevance to your discussion is to stray perilously close to antisemitism, and at best is a misunderstanding of who we are. Jesus was circumcised, and proudly so;because he was born, lived and died as a Jew. That he was declared a God, and part of a trinity a few hundred years after his death gives you no right to discuss my customs as if they are a minor part of, or historical predecessors to yours!

    I read your blog because it was linked on a dear friend’s Facebook page, but could not get easily past that comment as a result of the insult involved. When you denigrate the culture of others to make a point about your own, regardless of how ethical that point may be, you diminish yourself. I hope that the Mennonite church can come to terms with homosexuality, but the covenant of Brit Milah is not yours to denigrate, dismiss or use as an analogy for exclusion! We are likely allied politically and ethically, but I nonetheless cannot allow the insult to go un-addressed.

    • Donovan J. Beyeler says:

      Wow! … As a heterosexual biologically, I never chose to be hetero. I’m sure that you never chose to be homo. I have deep respect for you as a person and as a gay person and Jewish. But why all the over-reacting to the circumcision issue! It blows me away reflecting on your passion and aggressiveness regarding the subject. Since when is Judaism and Christianity unrelated theologically?

      “Straying perilously close to antisemitism”. This over-reacting comment reminds me of the aggressiveness received recently from a Jewish man from Brooklyn after I suggested to him that the present Israeli government may have committed internationally considered war crimes in Gaza in the past 6 months. He responded by saying that it “would be good if he could kill me”.

      It can easily be equally insulting to some of us to hear a comment “straying perilously close to antisemitism” claim for something never intended to be so within the context in which it was said. Perhaps your view of Christianity in its historical, cultural, and theological dimensions needs more thorough study and reflective thinking outside the box you seem to put it in. With that we could have some diaologue. I wish you well.

    • Dave Hockman-Wert says:

      Dennis, I fear you misunderstand Brother Wenger and his reference to “circumcision.” I am fairly sure, given his later paragraphs discussing Peter and Paul, that he is referring to a Christian scripture, Acts 15, which describes the Jerusalem Conference. This gathering was deciding whether Gentile Christians had to be circumcised before they could become Christians.

      Many contemporary discussions of divisive issues in the Christian church reference this scripture/conference, as an example of how even the early Christian church was willing to change its most entrenched beliefs when God revealed a new way. I am sure Brother Wenger meant absolutely no disrespect to the Jewish covenant of circumcision by his comments.

      • Dan Clark says:

        Jesus wasn’t declared “a god” 300 years after His resurrection. He claimed to be God while with His disciples, please educate yourself before you toss insults to God in this blog. Read the gospels, particularly the Book of John.

        And yes, Jesus IS the fulfillment of all the laws and prophets from the Jewish Law (Old Testament). You can believe or disbelieve God, it still doesn’t chane the truth.

  95. John Harder says:

    Well stated, Diane…along the lines of what I was trying to get across in my comments above (#60, reply to #58), but more simply and clearly! Those who stubbornly hold to ‘God says homosexuality is sin’ as a black-and-white absolute with no room for understanding context make me sad. To me, this thinking is indicative of a closed heart and mind. God has revelations to show us every day but we have to be open to receiving them!
    Praise God for his amazingly fantastic and diverse creation, and for making humans to honor God and be in relationship to God and God’s people!

  96. Trevor says:

    Excellent and heart-deep testimony of a vibrant faith. Thanks so much for sharing! Keep the faith!

  97. Carroll Lehman says:

    I am not an active Mennonite, but was brought up Mennonite and am still very interested in the Church. I am a retired music professor, singer and conductor. I first met a gay man, my beloved voice teacher and mentor, in 1966. I have, since, met many wonderful gay people. I helped two gay men celebrate their 10th year of “marriage” in 1977. (Of course, they could’nt legally marry then). After I left that part of the country, I found out that one of the couple had gone to some religion that help him determine that he wasn’t gay. So, I soon learn he had married a woman. Six months later, I learned he was divorced from her, because he discovered he really was gay. What a trauma to have to endure! I have relatives who are gay, I have many colleagues who are gay. Do these people who hold on, so viciously, to the “truth” really know and love anyone who is gay. What would they do if one of their children came out of the closet–and there are many in the Mennonite church who are fearful of “coming out” What would Christ do, living in the 21st century, knowing what we now know, biologically, about gender and sexual preferences? Would he deny it? Would he believe that God goofed? Would he make members of the LGBT community less human and not in the image of God? Sometimes the answers lay beyond the Scriptures–yes, sometimes in love, in reason, in science, in compassion.

  98. Johnny Stoll says:

    If Mr. Wenger chose to officiate at his son’s civil union and forfeit his credentials, that’s his perogative. However, I have witnessed first hand the pain, anger and turmoil he’s caused his family by going public with it after they asked him not to. To those who are singing his praises, stop and think for a minute.

    • Donovan J. Beyeler says:

      Johnny, I stopped to think and realized that of course it can be painful for some members of his family because family members rarely agree on everything. But the way that Chester and Sara Jane presented their letter was wonderfully done and will help thousands and thousands to think much more thoroughly regarding sexuality issues and especially homosexuality and the church. The letter has gone viral at nearly 90,000 viewings and that in the whole I’m convinced is a very good thing. The Mennonite Church will be largely blessed by this letter. Ask me five years from now; ask me 10 years from now and we will know that it is one of the best messages to ever to have been given to the Mennonite Church worldwide. This is potentially historical.

    • Johnny Stoll says:

      This came from a very reliable, direct source, Phil. If I misheard, I apologize.

    • Johnny Stoll says:

      Phil, please check you “other” messages on Facebook. Thanks.

  99. John Sharp says:

    A Reflection
    In February 1959, Chester Wenger and fellow missionaries in Ethiopia—wearing business suits and long neckties—met a delegation of Lancaster Conference leaders at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The leaders were shocked, distraught, stunned, and disturbed to see on the mission field such disregard for conference regulations that required the wearing of plain coats. According to one source, the delegates retreated to a hotel room and wept. The chairman of Lancaster’s mission board called this a “problem of major proportions.” Another member of the executive committee wrote that Chester Wenger, “of all people is the bottle neck” in reaching resolution on this issue.

    Wenger and colleagues explained that a plain coat in Ethiopia was a detriment to their witness; Mennonite missionaries, when wearing the plain coat, were mistaken for Orthodox priests, not a happy affiliation. In contextualizing the gospel there would be adaptations, Wenger wrote, but they need not “rock the boat” back home.

    Further, Wenger wrote that the mission workers were grieved to have added to the burdens of conference leaders; he understood that in the minds of some back home, this issue “threatened the very fellowship and unity of our beloved church.” He cautioned against taking the conference “Rules and Regulations” as an infallible document.

    In 2014, Chester and Sara Jane are again at odds with the leaders of their “beloved church”—different issue, of course, but similar reactions and comparable stakes. Can this retrospective be useful in our current conversation?

    Whatever position we take, Chester is our brother and Sara Jane is our sister. His 96 years of life and long and faithful ministry, with or without credentials, call for our respect. With my fallibility ever before me, let me be the last person to condemn this patriarch and this matriarch.

    • Dave Hockman-Wert says:

      Thank you for sharing this story, John! Historical memory is always appreciated. Its demonstration of Chester’s concern for living the Gospel more than following “man’s” rules (for in the case of LMC, men did make the rules) provides a nice additional insight into his lifelong God-filled character.

  100. Lynette Meck says:

    Chester and Sara Jane: What a wonderful gift you have provided the church at a painfully divisive time in its history. Thank you for telling your story in such a humble and non-judgmental manner. If your family can hold differing views on this topic and continue to sing, play and pray together and have good times with each other, then surely the larger church can do this too. Long after the intensity of this debate is gone and the volume has been significantly lowered, it will be the loving, accepting way you responded to those who differ with you, that will continue as a witness to the greatest commandment of all “that we love one another.” What an inspiration you are!

  101. Ray Elvin Horst says:

    Some questions for those who cry “Heresy!” and “Let them repent!” When scientists challenged the flat-earth concept, did church leaders do God’s will in crying “Heresy!”?…When some Christians began to proclaim that slavery was a sin, did pro-slavery Christians do right in crying “Heresy: The Bible says, ‘Slaves, be obedient to your masters'”?…When people who were divorced and remarried wanted to join the church, and some church leaders began to say, “God welcomes you into Christian felowship,” did other people do right to cry, “Heresy – we cannot allow such sin in the church!”?
    As for repentance: many are the testimonies of persons who prayed fervently for countless years that God would change their same-gender attraction into a heterosexual one – repentance, indeed. What shall the church say when God does not bring about that change despite the faithful, desperate, prayerful pleading?

  102. Genevieve King says:

    A father tending to the spiritual needs of his son and marrying his son to his beloved….
    Yeah, someone understands the message about love and acceptance and its a beautiful thing to behold. Too bad more don’t understand it.

    • Dan Clark says:

      Hey Genevieve, can he also marry me to my adult daughter? It would be a beautiful thing to behold. I’m glad you understand it.

  103. Lois Gascho, Tucson, Arizona says:

    God is Love. Love is Truth, outside of which is nothing. None of us here in dialogue have even the slightest idea of the magnitude of God’s Love.
    Truth needs no defense. It stands secure, encompassing All of Creation. When we defend our point of view, remember we are defending our opinion of Truth. This is never Truth.
    Without Love, all defense is “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.”

    See your brother as Love sees him: beloved, radiant, valuable beyond measure and guiltless as he was created. If Truth has set you (and him) free, both are free indeed. In condemning your brother you cannot escape the judgment you are choosing to lay at your own door. That is why we are constrained to love and forgive and fear not.

    We are All God’s children. Our heritage is to stand together embracing with Joy in His Presence. What keeps us from experiencing that today?

  104. Johnny Stoll says:

    I want to express regret for my comments. I also want apologize to Phil if I have offended him. My thoughts came not just from my views on same-sex unions but from concern for a young member of the Wenger family who has been close to us for the last 19 years, however I acknowledge I may have over stepped my bounds. I stand firm with my views but it’s not my intention to hurt or show malice toward those with whom I disagree.

  105. Ben Dunlap says:

    What a brave and loving stand you have taken on behalf of your son and your church. Your thoughtful words show the caring and regard you hold for both. Thank you, Chester.

  106. Ted Love says:

    In the kindest way possible, I can only be sad. This action is wrong according to the Holy Word of God. I want to be silent only out of respect for many that think this action is acceptable. I can only say that silence on this matter does not honor God. I have many that I love that this issue affects but I am willing, in a kind way, to say this is sin.

  107. Gale Horst says:

    I was a Meno while growing up and a number of years thereafter. However, when I found myself living in a non-meno area (one without a Mennonite Church), we attended another strong bible-believing denomination. Now I am on the outside looking in and have to say that I have a lot of concerns about my beloved Mennonite church. My concern is regarding a church that appears to be a “religion of issues” rather than one focused on reaching a lost world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The non-meno congregations I have attended in the past 26 years while living in 3 different states fed me the word of God, pointed me toward understanding and let the Lord speak to me through His word. Meanwhile, on the occasions I have visited Mennonite churches, a number of them seem to start with an issue, quote a few verses that may appear to be somewhat related, then go off down some other road leaving me to wonder if the foundation is crumbling.

    Several issues have apparently consumed the Mennonite Churches in liberal controversy. Why can’t we look to the word for answers, rather than a place to claim support for our pre-drawn conclusions. Issues such as the one discussed in this thread are one of MANY scriptural signs of the times, and time is limited. Focusing on these issues doesn’t prepare people for the day at hand. Its effectiveness in reaching the lost is difficult to support while it’s ability to divide and create factions increases.

    Even though I just moved back to an area where the Mennonite Churches are many, for now we are drawn to where the word is taught. Phil 1:8-11 remains in my heart along with a sincere love for the Mennonite Church of which I am no longer a part.

    Gale Horst
    Reading PA

  108. Tim Power says:

    My son, unlike my daughter, was born very selfish. For so long I would break out the bible and correct, rebuke, admonish, etc, on his selfish-nature.. But as I got older and wiser, I’ve come to realize, he was just born that way, there’s nothing he can do. He recently asked me if I would help him lie, white lie really, on a business loan he desperately needs, and because I love him, I did it! I really wish more people would be more tolerant to their selfish children, it’s NOT THEIR FAULT, and I wish people would stop judging them, it just makes them more selfish! Hopefully, someday soon, the church can really stop thinking about everyone else and and “what that good ole bible says” and just start letting folks be a little less like Jesus, and more like their natural selves…

    • Derek says:

      The award for the worst, self righteous analogy goes to you.

      Do you compare apples and oranges much?

      People raise selfish children and that is very different than being born gay. The lack of compassion or empathy or even love shown by some of you supposed Christians is amazing. The thinking behind some of these rationales is as shallow as Jesus’ love is deep.

      God knows what’s right and wrong.
      All your supposed to do is love your neighbor and God.
      Keep your dark ages mentality to yourself.

      • Dan Clark says:

        Hi Derek

        Mark 8:34-35 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it.”

        Silly old Dark Ages mentality, wouldn’t you say?

  109. Jacob Kraybill says:

    Thank you for these wise words! Thank you for coming out! This is wonderful.

  110. Craig and Karen Long Mount Union, PA says:

    May this poem, written by Brayden Waller of Jerusalem, Israel, bring
    clarity and comfort this day to all readers, in Yahshua the Messiah’s Name.

    The Man and the Maid (written for his brother’s betrothal)

    (Proverbs 30: 1, 18, 19 The Words of Agur the son of Jakeh…There be three
    things which be too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not. The way of
    an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the
    midst of the sea; the way of a man with a maid.”

    In the mind of Agur the son of Jakeh
    The way was unknown of the man with the maid.
    The passion the purpose of this drama divine
    Makes all other riddles take second in line.
    What perplexed Agur has perplexed me too
    And the answer remains that I have not a clue
    How love’s fires lit are like fine dry tinder
    That expands to a blaze no forest can render.
    From Adam and Eve to the Shulamite girl
    Romance has captured the heart of the world.
    A bachelor once lonely began a new life
    By trading a rib in exchange for a wife.
    Not that ole’ Adam had a say in the deal,
    But his Maker a story was soon to reveal.
    This story outstretches the sky in its span
    How a woman was formed to complete the man,
    From Eden this saga was launched to soar
    Through time and space till time be no more,
    How a man was humbled and cut in his side
    To supply from himself the needs of his bride.
    The first and Last Adam were looking for one
    Who would share in their dreams and leave them for none.
    The mystery is great but the intention is clear
    Of the man and maid in the parable here.
    The great deficit staged is a man alone
    Who waits to be joined to bone of his bone.
    The wonder of waiting can only be beat
    By the time when the woman is finally complete.
    The goodness and favor that a wife does bring
    Makes the pleasure of waiting a rewarding thing.
    There are three, said Agur, too wondrous to me,
    The eagle, the snake and the ship on the sea.
    The first couple flew high like an eagle in flight
    As they watched with their God arrayed in His Light
    Until the serpent so sly came to deceive
    The mother of life, the woman named Eve.
    The height that you long for your marriage to reach
    will be gauged by the measure of satan’s defeat.
    That serpent of old will meet his demise
    And the man of the maid will break through the skies
    To rescue the bride whose garments were purged
    As she came through the fire and spotless emerged.
    But till that day we are reminded well
    By the parable your lives live to tell,
    So as you go from here your ship to guide
    Hang on tight and enjoy the ride.
    A haven is waiting at your journey’s end
    When you meet face to Face your Bridegroom friend.
    The journey will really begin at that call
    For that romance will be the Crowning of all.

  111. eMatters says:

    That’s unfortunate that this man didn’t finish strong. It is a false dichotomy to assume that agreeing with God on homosexuality means you support bullying LGBTQX people.

    http://wp.me/p1wGU-3P7 The Bible couldn’t be more clear. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths:

    – 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
    – 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
    – 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
    – 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.
    – 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to LGBT couples parenting children.

    * The three general types of pro-gay theology people:

    1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God.” (Obviously non-Christians
    2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling the theological Left.” (Only about 10 things wrong with that.)
    3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

    • Derek says:

      Well I hope you follow Leviticus to the letter of the law, and to the rest I hope you find your way to compassion and empathy for everyone. I know if we start shining lights on anyone’s lives there’s unrepentant sin lurking. Some of you on your high horses haven’t a clue what Jesus stood for and who he stood with. Luckily for you he’ll still have open arms for you because he knows you can’t help being ignorant. The main point of it all is to love with an open heart, free of judgment and petty fears. In the end you’ll see I’m right.

      • Dan Clark says:

        Hi Derek

        Leviticus was written for Old Testament Jews. Are you an Old Testament Jew?

        As for your other comment, are you the current cheerleader for sin? Did Jesus get it wrong when He said the “be Holy as the Father is Holy”? Maybe He goofed up when He told the woman (and consequently us) to “go and sin no more.”

        Maybe you should re-visit the parable about the sheep and the goats.

        Just sayin’.

        • Derek says:

          Dan I see more goats up in arms about this than sheep. So I don’t see your points you’re trying to make. I think maybe you need to revisit the text. My point is just love everyone and reserve judgment for no man. I side with Jesus, not the Pharisees.

          I bring up Leviticus to show we have discarded plenty from the Bible, or if you’re the letter of the law type then there’s something in there you’re not following, which makes you a hypocrite and they can’t cast any stones now can they? I believe this man more than eloquently stated his peace and I believe Jesus is pleased with it.

          • Dan Clark says:

            Hi Derek

            Jesus reaffirms that sin is sin. If we choose, we can rise above it an follow Him or we can wallow in our sin and claim sin is not in us. IF you are claiming to be Christian, you are raised to a higher standard and are NOT to willingingly promote, agree with or live in sin.

            What part of following Christ have you missed?

  112. Jonathan Beachy says:

    As we seek to hear the other, to continue love and to cherish each other, in the midst of disagreement, and too often, at least for me, the desire to let others know that I am right, I value highly this quote from Matthew Tiscareno. “The problem is not so much a desire to be right as an unwillingness to let go of others that you see as wrong, to let them be responsible to God rather than to yourself.” When we are able to do that, then we open the door to unconditional love so beautifully displayed by a man who loves God and his children and all of us too!

  113. I’m reminded of a commentator on a Southern Baptist website who wrote, “I can’t reconcile how someone could feel he or she was born with strong homosexual feelings, love Christ and yet take on the limitations of what seem to me to be straightforward biblical teachings. That’s agonizing, and I don’t really understand it.”

    And this is the weird thing: “Straightforward biblical teachings” should at least be understandable to the average person. So often I hear it said, “OUR ways are not GOD’s ways,” as if God was some sort of inscrutable alien being.

    Consider The Golden Rule: We do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Put all the religious dogma and ritual aside, and this is what our laws boil down to. We don’t lie or bear false witness because we won’t want people to lie to us. We don’t steal from other people because we do not want people stealing from us. We don’t betray the trust of our spouses because we wouldn’t want them doing the same to us. Same goes for killing and a variety of other “bad” behaviors.

    And yet somehow there seems to be this sheepish adherence to a double standard for Gay and Straight people. If you’re Straight, it’s all so wonderful to be able to find a compatible person of the opposite sex, court and get engaged and marry and live happily ever after. But if you’re Gay, all of that is completely out of the question. Don’t even bother trying to find a compatible person. Lesbians and Gay men are precluded from any hope for romance or commitment. Gay people are simply told: “Gosh, sorry about that. You make us uncomfortable; acknowledging your existence means we might have to revise what we’ve been teaching all these years – meaning, Whoops! No infallible Magisterium or “literal” Bible… so you’ll just have to sacrifice your life and any hope of finding somebody to love. Tough luck, kid. God said it, I don’t necessarily understand it, but there it is.” How could this be considered a good value judgment?

    Fortunately, the reason increasing numbers of Americans support marriage equality is because they have learned to make better value judgments. The reason couples choose to marry is to make a solemn declaration before friends and family members that they wish to make a commitment to one another’s happiness, health, and well-being, to the exclusion of all others. Those friends and family members will subsequently act as a force of encouragement for that couple to hold fast to their vows. THAT’S what makes marriage a good thing, whether the couple in question is Straight OR Gay.

    • Dan Clark says:

      Hi Chuck

      Yep, we live in a world where our feelings (however fleeting) trumps God’s word. Your argument could be used to support Grampa marrying his 18 year old loving grand-daughter. Glad to see you’ll support anything in thr “name of love.”

      I seem to recall that Paul wadn’t married…

      • KK says:

        Paul describes marriage as a crutch for the weak who are helpless to prevent themselves from burning with passion. It seems like something rather shameful, not honorable.

        Why are straight people never admonished to resist their burning passions and remain celibate as Paul recommended?

        “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” (I Cor. 7:1.) “It is good for [the unmarried and widows] to stay unmarried, as I do.” (I Cor. 7:8.)

        • Dan Clark says:

          Let’s have some context – Paul speaks of staying unmarried as his own advice, not the Lord’s.

          Heb 13:4 Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept clean.

          Mark 10:6-9 “But in the beginning of creation God made them MALE and FEMALE. For this reason a man will leave his father and be united unto his wife, and rhe two will become one flesh, they are no longer two, but one.

  114. Debra Bender says:

    Ach du lieber! This all makes me want to do a Hillary-grab-my-head-pull-my-hair-fix-a-hard-stare and ask, “What possible difference does it make?” Or maybe mimic the famous Rodney King whine, “Can’t we all just get along?”

  115. Nick says:

    I do not agree with his reasoning. The Bible is clear homosexuality is an abomination and is sin. We have to go to what the Bible says. Marriage is between one man and one woman and represents Christ and church. The fact that he approved of, blessed and officiated that ceremony means he was in full agreement with what his son and partner were doing. This is wrong! He may say is conscience is clear, but scripture says otherwise.

    • KK says:

      Actually, the Bible says the unmarried should remain that way. I Corinthians 7:8. The only people who should marry are those who are so weak that they cannot control their passions. But with God all things are possible, so anyone should be able to control their passions. Hence, no need for marriage at all.

  116. J. Denny Weaver says:

    Thank you, Brother Chester, for a compassionate and courageous statement. It is an inspiration to all of us to find opportunities to speak our convictions concerning the importance of being an inclusive, welcoming church.

  117. Keith Espenshade says:

    Thank you, Chester, for your letter providing your story. Over the years I have come to change my earlier view about homosexuality. I have seen too many examples of gays and lesbians faithfully following Jesus in their lives.
    Some hold strongly to the “biblical” basis for condemning homosexuality. While those few verses can be understood on the surface as condemnation, it is important to look at the verses in context of the culture in which they were written and in the broader context of the whole of scripture. I am not promoting the idea of accepting sin. I am challenging the belief that people living in a committed relationship, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are sinning.
    The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were thoroughly convinced that they knew every aspect of the message of scripture. They held so tightly to their interpretations that they could not recognize Jesus in their very midst.
    I think we need some humility that we might be wrong about our interpretations. Looking back, we were clearly wrong about slavery. I also think we were wrong about keeping women out of leadership roles, condemning people who were divorced, and condemning those with same-gender attraction.
    Let’s work together to follow God faithfully. Let’s be willing to examine our own temptations and inconsistencies rather than focusing on condemning others for being different than us.

    • Dan Clark says:

      Hi Keith

      I guess the same argument can be used for polygamy (satisfying the needs of the bisexual) and incest (grampa and adult grandson truly love each other.)

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but please show me how you can’t honestly be the cheerleader for these examples if you TRULY believe any loving adults can and should marry each other.

      I look forward to your honest and God-centered response.

      Peace

      Dan

      • tom says:

        Dan, your comment regarding polygamy makes no sense to me. I have never heard that polygamy involved bisexuality. Do you even know the definition of the word? As far as close familial/sexual relationships is concerned, it is a scientific fact that children born of such incestuous relationships can have (more often than not) mental and physical defects. I choose to abide by science; and refrain from engaging in such activity. Anyone with a God-given brain (and a little dash of education) figured that out a long time ago. As far as relations with Granpa and grandson (or even Grandma and Grand-daughter are concerned), that is something for each individual to work out, and does not require my judgment/condemnation. I do not believe in using a child for one’s adult sexual gratification. That is my bisexual opinion, and I stand by it. Homosexuals, heterosexuals, and bisexuals can be monogamous. What is wrong with that? I hear the word “love” thrown around a lot, but I rarely hear the word “respect” mentioned…Tell me, Dan, Does love thy neighbor and love thy God also require some modicum of respect?

        • Dan Clark says:

          1 John 5:3 This is love for God: to OBEY his commands.

          Romans 2:13 for it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in gods sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

          I guess I don’t want to live in a world filled with man’s empty praise. I want to be a God pleaser, not a man pleaser. The ways that seem right to a man will only bring him death, I want to go the way that leads to life, Jesus is the only way and he commands us to be holy as the Father is holy.

          You go ahead and do it your way, I’ll do it God’s way and when I stsnd before the throne of gold, I’ll hear my Father say “well done” unlike you who will try to justify why you so blatantly and arrogantly called God a liar.

      • Keith Espenshade says:

        Dan,
        Thank you for inviting my honest and God-centered response rather than assuming that my response would not be God-centered since it may differ from your understanding.
        Mentioning polygomy is very interesting since a very strong Biblical basis could be made for polygomy based on examples (Jacob, David, Solomon to name a few) as well as direct commandment that if one’s brother dies childless, one is commanded to marry his widow and impregnate her (Deuteronomy 25:5ff). I do not see any Mennonites in the USA following this command! I could ask whether you believe in following this command, but I don’t think that would be helpful.
        The only place where polygomy seems to be prohibited is in 1 Timothy 3 in Paul’s list of qualifications of overseers. It seems that perhaps our current prohibition against polygomy is more cultural than biblical. This was a point of controversy with the Mennonite Church in Africa a number of years ago.
        Incest is prohibitted in some very specific instances, such as not marrying one’s father’s wife (presumably a different wife than one’s mother). Again, we seem to be following our cultural prohibitions regarding who may be married as much as biblical mandates.
        Just to be clear, I am not advocating for polygomy or incest!
        Rather than bringing out all the extreme possible ramifications of my logical, let me go back to the core. I do not think the scriptural references against homosexual practices are addressing the issue of a committed same gender relationship. That seems to be the crux of our difference. It is not a matter of one of us being concerned about being a God pleaser and the other a people pleaser, or one of us proposing that anything goes while the other remains faithful. We have a different view of biblical interpretation on some texts. And I am convinced that all of us interpret scripture (I have not seen anyone with an eye plucked out or a hand cut off because they are following God’s instructions except for one person suffering from significant mental illness who was trying to become pure by plucking out his eyeball.)
        Let us seek to faithfully follow our understanding of what God is calling us to be.
        Keith

  118. Chuck Myer says:

    Chester Wenger’s article was well written, however it completely ignores Romans 1: 26-31 where God does not agree with Chester’s wisdom. The scripture says that man’s wisdom is foolishness unto God. I do not believe we are at liberty to pick and choose what we like or agrees with in our thinking. Either we believe God or we don’t! The Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword; it does the discerning. The light of God’s word sets man free! Ro. 16 25 – 27.

    • Steve Stutzman says:

      “If the light that is in thee be darkness”……… I suppose that means Jesus saw some of this coming.
      Still seeking any Scripture in support of Wengers position.
      Also seeking any reference in the early church era of this sort of notion coming forth from the Holy Spirit to man. Has God changed?
      The Dark Ages should suffice to convince us, that when the church and the world agree on something and try to change it, God is not moved.
      Also seeking any issue, currently, in history, or Scripture, where the disciples of Christ were proven wrong, and needed to turn and follow a culture who hates God.
      Credentials, or no credentials; degree or no degree; deceit is the same: and it always begins with, “Yea hath God said….”

    • tom says:

      Without darkness, there can be no light…

      • tom says:

        God never changes – He is my God of love. He who does not believe and follow the God of love follows the prince of darkness.

      • Thomas says:

        Darkness does not make lite neither can darkness remain in lite. Darkness can not put out lite but lite removes darkness.
        If there is darkness it for the lack of lite.

  119. Ray Gingerich (Milwaukee) says:

    Dear Chester Wenger, Thank you for your courage to publish this letter which exudes love of Jesus, love of family, love of the church and love of the scriptures and a long life giving witness to that love. Thank God for your witness.

    I think a key phrase in your letter is: “when my wife and I read the Bible with today’s fractured, anxious church in mind, we ask, what is Jesus calling us to do…?” Your question is not, “what did the biblical writers call people to do in ancient times, but what IS [present tense] Jesus calling us to do [NOW]? I read into that, ‘what does Jesus, whose spirit lives in me and in my church’ call us to do?’ We know what the writers of Leviticus thought (past tense). We know what Paul thought (past tense). What we want to know (present tense) is what Jesus is calling us to think/know/do now? And HOW will we know?

    Like you, I think the Bible can help: John tells us to test the spirits in 1 John 4 and that the test is love. Paul tells us we know the presence of the Spirit by it’s fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

    (But, I get into trouble when I worship the written word rather than the living word, Jesus [who used scripture yet at times seemed in tension with then, e.g., “you have heard it has been said, but I say…” or omitting key phrases, e.g., “and the day of vengeance of our God,” when quoting Isaiah in his inaugural address [Luke 4.]] I get into trouble when I abandon the spirit [love] of Christ and use scripture as a sword to defeat a brother or sister.

    I don’t know what more we might have asked of you in your decision-making: 1) seeking the spirit of Christ 2) among the fellowship of believers 3) with the guidance of scripture: the Mennonite way.

    My congregation is about to embark on a discernment process regarding LBGT matters, so I have been doing a lot of reading. Among many readings, I have found the late Bible scholar, Walter Wink’s 1996 article, “The Homosexuality and the Bible,” to be very illuminating and recommend it: http://forusa.org/content/homosexuality-bible-walter-wink

    Grace and Peace

  120. […] “grieved deeply” about the church’s decision to expel his child, but when same-sex marriage became legal in […]

  121. Dennis Haley says:

    I am not Mennonite, nor am I Anabaptist, but I am in theology, in general. Let us talk about Paul and Romans for a moment, because I believe that it is very important to discuss the back story, that you will most likely not know unless you are a graduate from seminary. First of all it is very important to know that Paul was a Hellenistic Jew, and very highly educated one. In his day there would have never been words used such as homosexual or same sex, nor would there be usage of any words that we, today, now use to describe being gay. It is also important to remember that in Paul’s day men who had a male partner would be viewed upon quite differently. The man known to be the husband would have been looked up quite favorably among his Roman peers. The other partner in the relationship who was known to be the wife, so to speak, would have all but been shunned by his Roman peers. Because a man in a submissive role would have been looked upon as weak, at best. Hence, this person would have dressed more feminine in order to be accepted by his fellow Roman citizens.
    What is more important is that the story of men leaving their natural affections….had nothing to do with homosexuality at all. Paul was disgusted with what he was witnessing in general. Paul had noted that while he, and his fellow worshipers, were in engaged in converting many from paganism, many of those same persons were still attending pagan temples and engaging in sexual orgies with the temple prostitutes. These new converts were fearful that their old gods would exact punishment upon them for forsaking them in favor of a new god. Hence they would be caught entering or exiting such temples after leaving church on the sabbath. Hence Paul writes to discourage the behavior of orgies in the temples. These orgies were more likely than not to include sexual intercourse with both men and woman who had dedicated their lives to the particular pagan temple. Perhaps this will make Roman chapter 1 more clear.

  122. Reta Halteman Finger says:

    I affirm and greatly appreciate Chester Wenger’s letter. The parallels with Paul in Philippians 3:4-7 are striking!

    In these many responses, there are a number of references to Romans 1:24-27. I am convinced that most people change their minds about LGBT people once they experience it with family or friends rather than through reading scripture (I include myself). However, I think we can better dialogue with each other if we know how to read and interpret relevant texts in their larger literary and historical contexts. At the risk of length, let me try this on Romans 1:24-27:

    I believe it is inappropriate to focus on this paragraph and not see its place in the larger literary and historical context of Paul’s major argument in Romans 1-3. Here is the literary context:

    Thesis: 1:16-17—the gospel is the power of God for salvation to every Jew or Gentile who has faith (or is faithful).

    First proof: 1:18-32—pagan gentiles are idolaters. Listed are their many sins.

    Second proof: 2:1-29—no one can judge other people’s sins because they sin just as much themselves. This also includes Jews who may have different sins, but they are just as bad.

    Third proof: 3:1-20—all people, both Jews and gentiles, have sinned equally.

    Conclusion: 3:21-26—all can be saved equally, through the righteousness of God and the faithfulness of Messiah Jesus.

    Conclusions for today: Throughout Romans, Paul is seeking to unify quarreling Jewish and gentile Christians. He does not approve of people judging other people unless they also judge themselves as equally sinful.

    Historical context.
    A. Paul is writing to small house churches composed of both Jews and gentiles, generally of the lower classes. About a third of Rome’s population were slaves, so at least a third of these churches were composed of slaves who had no civil or human rights. They could not marry and were sexually available to their owners or had to work as prostitutes, both boys and girls, men and women.

    B. At a time of short life expectancy and high child mortality, every free, able-bodied person was expected to get married to have children to pass on their line. Parents arranged their children’s marriages on the basis of economics and social status, NOT because of romance or sexual attraction. Procreation, passing on one’s heritage, was the primary purpose of marriage. (Hence, biblical texts always assume marriage between one man and one woman.)

    C. Men (and probably some high-class women) who were sexually unfulfilled in such a marriage would seek sex from their own slaves or other prostitutes. The words in Romans 1:24-27 translated as “intercourse” or “sexual relations” is literally the Greek word for “usage.” Men of higher classes were using both males and females for their pleasure. Paul uses many negative words to describe this practice: lust, impurity, degrading, etc.

    D. Conclusion: as Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2) read Paul’s letter aloud to each of the house churches, 1:24-27 would have SHAMED Christian slave-owners, if there were any, who were abusing their slaves. However, the same text would have been heard as a LIBERATING word to any slaves (or lower-class victims) who were being used by masters or others of a higher class.

    Conclusion for today: committed same-sex marriage (or committed partnerships where marriage is not legal) did not exist in Paul’s context in the Roman Empire. Therefore, this text cannot be appropriately used to condemn those in a committed same-sex marriage. Rather, faithful sexual commitment to one person should be seen as the CONSERVATIVE position over against casual or exploitative sex or adultery by either heterosexual or homosexual people.

    • Berry Friesenb says:

      Thank you, Reta, and thank you, Dennis (the comment before Reta’s). You each have given us much to think about.

      Dennis, you seem to take the position that “homosexuality” is a recent phenomenon; the same-sex genital activity of Paul’s time was something entirely different from what we are talking about here and now. Reta, you seem to hold nearly the same view, while adding some references to a more metaphysical salvation.

      So we can all agree, it seems, that same-sex genital activity is manifested culturally and will look different from time to time and from culture to culture and from environment to environment. And that the gay and lesbian manifestations of today are unprecedented in human history. And that part of the binding and loosing of the church is to discern what in this new reality is righteous/just and what is not.

      I’m on board with that as a general approach. It strikes me as much more biblical than the popularly held view that “God created” whatever sexual expression and style you or I happen to manifest.

      Still, I find it astonishing that you both seem to regard the assumptions and views of Paul, a widely travelled urbanite who knew many more people engaged in same-sex genital activity than any hundred of us will ever know, as irrelevant to our discussion of same-sex, committed relationships. I guess the culture of Paul’s time was really, really, really different from ours. It’s a miracle that anything he wrote remains relevant!

  123. Loren Johns says:

    Thank you, Chester, for this thoughtful, loving, and wise testimony. May God bless your family!

  124. Grieved says:

    I am terribly grieved at the condition of the Mennonite Church and so very thankful to no longer be a part of it. How long will the Lord tolerate the wicked depravity of our nation and, even worse, a church denomination that is following the world rather than Scripture and not only tolerating sin but indeed condoning it? Almost more appalling and grievous than Chester Wenger’s letter itself is the number of comments praising it. Since when do so-called ‘love’ and ‘dialogue’ and ‘care’ and ‘compassion’ trump obedience to the Word of God? True love calls sinners to repentance (Ps. 51:13 and James 5:20). Those who claim to know Him and yet so drastically distort His Word face an even greater judgment than those who have never called on His name.

  125. […] once again sparked conversation within the conservative faith this month when he wote a column for The Mennonite proclaiming that he could “no longer hide the light the Lord has lit within me, under a […]

  126. Rachel H. says:

    Thank you for letting the light shine. Too many keep hiding it under a bushel. You give me hope for my own future. Your courage is beautiful, Divinely driven, and possibly the most encouraging thing I’ve seen out of the Mennonite Church in… well… my whole short life. Thank you for giving me faith.

  127. Keith Miller says:

    I am married to Chester Wenger’s oldest granddaughter, and I am extremely disappointed by this letter.

    It seems to me that Mr. Wenger has caved in to societal pressure. Throughout the last 2000 years Christians have frequently held minority views on human sexuality. Recent American history is no different. In the 1960’s and 70’s faithful Christians rejected the sexual revolution and the legalization of abortion that followed. They rejected these in the face of sometimes sincere and sometimes cynical opposition from the broader American society.

    Christians are now facing yet one more assertion of the sexual revolution: God approves of same sex union (or at least some forms of it). The Scriptures are clear enough; we must lovingly but resolutely disagree. Like the faithful Christians of the 1960’s and 70’s we must remain faithful while others accuse us of prejudice and even hate. The church will continue, but Christians of the future and indeed God himself will judge our choices. Hold fast!

  128. Not born that way says:

    Eight separate studies over two decades conducted on several continents arrive at the same conclusion:
    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2013/06/identical-twin-studies-prove-homosexuality-is-not-genetic/

  129. Dan Clark says:

    Hey Christian

    As much as you’d love to toss Gos’s holiness aside for the shifting sands of public opinion, please educate me.

    Show me where in the Bible God confirms same-sex marriage. Or even show me where God affirms homosexuality. I’d like book/chapter/verse.

    Much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

    Danurison from

  130. Peter Chan says:

    Thanks, and well put, Chester !
    Borrowing your own words . . .

    As a defence of my faith — if you will allow me to paraphrase the words of the Apostle Paul from Philippians 3:4ff.

    If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. I was . . .

    • born in Hong Kong into the family of an Open Plymouth Brethren ‘Assembly’ Church and baptised as a young man, the older son (of two) of a Plymouth Brethren elder/evangelist.

    • mothered by a diligent follower of the Scriptures, the sixth daughter (of a total of 11 siblings) of a local Lutheran Church minister and faithful to God in every way.

    • fathered by a dad who who, for decades of my growing up, had been preaching in the most vehement tone of ‘God hates fags’, ‘Homos should be stoned to death or thrown into the fire’, ‘Gays are sick because man had fallen’ . . . ever since I could recall the first time he spued such verbal abuse against GLBT people when I was 9.

    I am 52 and for over forty years I had been bombarded with venomous bigotry – not only from my dad, but from Christian fundamentalists, evangelicals and right-wingers alike. more than 7 years ago I decided that enough is enough and I would take that no more.

    I shall keep my faith in God despite deadly obdurate hostility from the church in general, but I shall have no use whatsoever with the Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches any more in my life. These churches have completely fallen again and fare far short of the Love and Justice of God – the very values those churches themselves most ardently exalt. Supreme hypocrites I call them.

    • It does not matter says:

      Dear Sir and all,

      Good day and please accept my wish this posting finds you and yours blessed with good health.

      I hope and pray God will enlighten me. I left my church years ago. Forsaken that fellowship, instead seeking fellowship with with a few like minded souls who have been become disheartened by dogma as an answer to an honest desire to understand what was being taught.

      In my studies I have become focused upon the Old Testament. If the Ten Commandments are the word of God written by his own hand upon the tablets, before the Bible was written by men, transcribed by men, and the meaning interpreted by men for their fellow man then don’t they take precedence over what has sadly become obfuscated by men? Recall please, the discussion of which books to include in the Bible was settled by a punch in the nose.

      Please understand, I truly do not understand.

      To the person offering incestuous logical fallacies I admire the strength of your convictions. God has not so blessed me.

      To those staunchly providing the Bible says this or that, yep it does; it says a lot of things often in contradiction of itself unless some context (historical is my preference) is applied.

      To those in support of Mr. and Mrs. Wenger I admire the well thought out questions offered in their support.

      To those, no matter how gently or kindly admonishing them, expressing concern for an institution of man, the church, I hope you are correct.

      As I shared above, I just do not know what to believe. What I do believe is that only God not man can judge. I do know there is evil in the world. I do see God’s miracles in the world everyday. I do know God exists.

      My name is not important. Please do not dally or take umbrage because I feel compelled to offer my thoughts without the support it may offer.

      What I do know and why I chose to respond to Mr. Chen’s posting instead of others is because he summed up what so many others have written in a way I understood. Dear Mr. Chen, you aptly shared why so many have lost their faith in the church (any church.) How dare I, and others like me question the sectarian teachings from the pulpit? Please forgive and indulge me as I presume to apply your wisdom to my own experiences. In my defense your words resonated strongly with me. I have an unbaptized child conceived out of wedlock as an example; baptism was refused because of the parents sin as an example.

      What I can offer is an idea to others who have chosen to leave the church; thanks to Mr. And Mrs, Wenger’s example. Are we a church of love? Oh, I do not mean the act of physical love. I mean the love God teaches us for each other and God. Maybe, it is time for us to return from our hermitage. Perhaps, it is time to become members of our churches again. As I have shared, I just do not know.

      I respectfully offer, let judgement be God’s and let us allow each other to share the love of God as God has given us the light to understand and maybe let our deeds speak louder than our words.

      Under the Mercy,

      A nameless soul

      • Peter Chan says:

        Thank you very much for your kind comments, It does not matter. In fact it matters a lot and you name shall be remembered under the Grace of the Lord.

        My name is insignificant but it will remain Peter Chan (with an ‘a’) ^_^

  131. […] “grieved deeply” about the church’s decision to expel his child, but when same-sex marriage became legal in […]

  132. Mary says:

    When Jeaus said to let the children come to him and not to hinder them… I believe he meant all children, whatever their orientation.

  133. Victor Fast says:

    Reminiscent of our Anabaptist forebearers, Chester Wenger has struck a resounding chord for the freedom of indivdual conscience over the dictates of fallible human instutions. North American Mennonitism (including Canada) has recently shown a tendency to want to wrap the Anabaptist mantle around its shoulders. In Chester’s case it has trampled a central Anabaptist principle into the gutter of shameful disrespect. By de-credentialing him it has demonstrated that ordination is the Mennonite church’s stamp of approval on gay discrimination. One would hope that all Mennonite pastors who support Chester would voluntarily hand in their credentials in a show of solidarity with their fallen comrade. The gay community has once again inadvertently exposed the dark side of Mennonite religiosity. Are we rapidly re-defining ourselves as the Holy Catholic Mennonite Church?

  134. John A. Esau says:

    Thank you Chester Wenger, for your loving and gracious response, both in deed and in word. You are pointing the way forward for the church to become compassionate in following the way of our Lord.

  135. Wilma Harder says:

    In the 40+ years I have been reading The Mennonite, I believe this is the most personally meaningful article/opinion that I have ever read that has been published therein. Thank you.

  136. C. Norman Kraus says:

    In this morning’s Washington Post (11/11) there is some excellent advice the American Roman Catholic Archbishop Kurtz gave to his bishops at the recent Council of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, which we Mennos might well listen to:

    “Abstractly, while the teachings of the church remain timeless, the opportunities to reach out creatively have changed with each age because the circumstances change. . . . So let’s give ourselves a chance to let that [Pope Francis’ exhortations on family and sexual matters] unfold so that creative ways . . . can bubble up.”

    Is there some way you could use these words of wisdom to encourage our church leaders?

  137. Judith Siess says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. By shunning people, we drive them away. I am Jewish. My cousin married a non-Jew. The rabbi at her home temple not only refused to marry them, but “read her the riot act.” She and her family stopped being Jewish; her sons married out of the faith.

    Both of my husbands (present and ex) are non-Jews. For my first marriage, we (with difficulty) found a rabbi to marry us. We were active in our temple and eventually my ex converted to Judaism. My current husband and I were married by his uncle, a Lutheran pastor. He attends Jewish services with me and I go to church with him. He has been accepted into my Jewish family and I into his Lutheran one.

  138. […] “I know persons will accuse me for my transgression, but my act of love was done on behalf of the church I love, and my conscience is clear,” he wrote in an open letter in The Mennonite. […]

  139. mateers@aol.com says:

    Chester — We have not met, but I want to thank you for the honesty, wisdom and courage you display in writing this letter to the church. I was not raised Mennonite and your letter, in its genuine and loving compassion and its grounding in the life and teachings of Jesus, served to remind me of what attracted me to the Mennonite church in the first place. Your letter is a wonderful and inspiring gift, for which I and others are most grateful. It saddens me to read the judgmental and negative responses from the Pharisaic element within our community, but be assured that you are clearly a model for what it means to be one who strives to follow the way of Jesus in these troubled times. In the midst of all this, I am reminded of and take comfort in the words of a hymn by John Bell . . .

    Goodness is stronger than evil.
    Love is stronger than hate.
    Light is stronger than darkness.
    Life is stronger than death.

  140. […] don’t know whether to call this heart-warming or heart-breaking, but this is a commentary piece from Chester Wenger, an older man who serves the Mennonite church […]

  141. Jim says:

    Any church that would punish a father for loving and keeping faith his son is a church that offers credentials not worth having. You’d think even a glancing acquaintance with simple human decency would have kept the Mennonite Church from committing such a despicable act against a 96-year-old faithful servant of the church. Evidently decency and the Mennonite Church are strangers. This is a church that deserves extinction.

  142. Peter Fairfield says:

    Truly saints do walk among us. Thank you Chester and Sara Jane; you’ve spoken boldly and fearlessly. I am inspired and also a little ashamed of not speaking out about this issue among my friends before.

    Love,

    Peter

  143. […] are those it will wound deeply,” the retired minister recently wrote in an online opinion to The Mennonite. “But I have also come to the conviction that I can no longer hide the light the Lord has lit […]

  144. […] are those it will wound deeply,” a late apportion recently wrote in an online opinion to The Mennonite. “But we have also come to a self-assurance that we can no longer censor a light a Lord has […]

  145. Steven St John says:

    I myself had a brother that had a gay relationship for 35 years before marring his partner. With regrets I offended him and his partner by not participating in attending his marriage . I believe the bible. I believe that love concures all. Jesus loves everyone. That’s it. He loves us all.

  146. […] are those it will wound deeply,” the retired minister recently wrote in an online opinion to The Mennonite. “But I have also come to the conviction that I can no longer hide the light the Lord has lit […]

  147. Viky says:

    Dios bendice a toda esa familia, porque dios es amor y gracia INFINITA, y en DONDE HAY AMOR, AHÍ ESTA DIOS manifestándose. Mis saludos y respeto a este pastor , su esposa y TODA la familia.

    PD: escribo desde Concepción-Chile

  148. Concerned says:

    Yes the Bible is so clear! It is sad how people refuse to follow the word of God. They just pick and choose the verses they want to follow. So many Mennonites claim to be believers and followers of the Bible but are they really? Leviticus 18 makes some clear statements. But why stop there? What about Leviticus 19?

    v19. “Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.”

    Totally clear yet you’ll be hard pressed to find a Mennonite gardener that doesn’t grow tomatoes right next to the beans. Some go so far as to mix in a pepper plant. And trust me, they are too cheap not to grow them from seed. Such a simple rule violated without a second thought. I question these gardeners’ reverence for the inerrant truth of the Bible.

    v19. “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”

    Again, Mennonite churches are full of people wearing a poly-cotton blend. The poly-cotton pushers in the church (mostly moms and grandmas by the way) are so strong that you rarely even hear about this verse. Just totally ignored. How is this justified when the Biblical mandate is so clear? I grieve that the church is unwilling to stand up to the poly-cotton menace when the Bible is so clear.

    v27. “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”

    Mennonites may have plenty of bad haircuts, which are not a Biblical violation I guess, but why the trimming and the clipping? The Bible is clear yet there are even Mennonite barbers that will clip both the hair on the side of your head AND the edges of your beard! Why do they ignore this part of the Bible simply because following it looks goofy? They just pick and choose the verses they want to follow. But I say we should respond with love: hate the clip but love the clipper (by that I mean the one who clips).

    v30. “Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.”

    How many Mennonites don’t think twice about going out to eat on Sunday? Getting gas? Stopping off at the supermarket? Where is the observance and reverence? Our confession of faith is also clear on this issue. These people violate the Bible AND the Confession of Faith yet nobody is willing to do something about this. How can we accept these Sabbath violators as members of our churches? How can we let them teach Sunday School to our children? Some Mennonite conferences even ordain them. Hypocrites.

    v32. “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.”

    Now here is where things get tricky. Sure, this old guy and his wife have given their entire lives to God and the church. But how can we tolerate the poly-cotton blend they refuse to reject? It’s right there in the Bible!!!

    Ok, ok, though we have never met I say “old guy” with a full sense of appreciation and affection. What grace. I guess if you study the Bible for 90 years, raise children, live through the Depression, WWII, spend years abroad in the third world and work in the church you develop a little wisdom. You realize the Bible says a lot of stuff that requires a genuine discernment process to understand and to live. But you probably also come to realize that it’s simply about loving God and your neighbor. That’s it. I’m totally projecting but if you’re 96 I suspect nothing else much matters. It is too bad so many of us do not seem to recognize and appreciate the Biblical wisdom from the rich life experiences of Chester & Sara Jane.

  149. Chuck Myer says:

    Current culture wants us to believe that homosexuals are born gay. However studies that were done in both Australia in 1991 and the USA in 2002 among tens of thousands adolescent identical twins who share identical genes show that same-sex desire is acquired after birth.
    In the USA it was found that the same-sex concordance was 5.3% for females and 7.7% for males. In Australia the genetic correlation 11% and 14%. http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2013/06/identical-twin-studies-prove-homosexuality-is-not-genetic/

    Billy Graham has won 100’s of thousands of souls to Christ. I remember his Boston Crusade in either 1963 or 1964 when I sang in the choir and would watch him come out night after night and preach. He would hold the Bible high above his head with stretched out arm and cry out in a loud voice over and over again “The Bible says in ——- giving the reference – this he did many times each night. After his preaching I watched hundreds upon hundreds stream down to the stadium floor to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

    I believe many of our churches our weak and sickly today because man’s opinion is held in higher esteem than God’s Holy Word. Many seem not to agree with the word “Holy” on the Bible cover any more. In Jeremiah 2:13 God says ” For MY PEOPLE have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters and have hewed them out cisterns, BROKEN cisterns that can hold no water.”
    Hosea 4:6, God says “MY PEOPLE are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee and thou shalt be no priest to me; seeing thou has forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
    God does not want us to be ignorant of:
    -Rom 1:13 Leadership’s watchful eye.
    -Rom 11:25 The Mystery
    -1 Co 10:1 Example of O.T. believers
    -1 Co 12:1 Spiritual manners
    -2 Co 1:8 God’s deliverance
    -2 Co 2:11 Satan’s devices
    -1 TH 4:13 Return of Christ
    Leadership is instructed in 2 Tim 2:25 “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. (Please not to confuse meekness with boldness}

    I am very blessed to attend a Bible Fellowship here in S. Oregon. The very 1st time was on Christmas Eve where hot Bible was taught and after the teaching I watched more than 50 people accept Christ and come down to be baptized. Sunday after Sunday people in the 10’s, 20’s and 30’s accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives and are baptized putting aside their own lordships. On Wed nights about 1000 people come for Bible study to hear Pastor Jon read through the Bible verse by verse covering 3-5 chapters for about 1 1/2 hr which goes so quickly. He make the scripture live as he opens it up to us. It is so thrilling that many times tears of thankfulness well up in my eyes at the wonderful revelation. It reminds me of Jesus opening up the scriptures to the disciples that he met on their way who marveled and said did not our hearts burn within us while He opened to us the scriptures – I would love to have been there with ears to hear.
    Paston Jon’s assistant pastor moved to Portland, OR where he also presents:
    the Bible says and that church has also grown to about 3000 believers.
    The believers are being fed the living waters of life!

    James 1:21 says that its with MEEKNESS we receive the engrafted word. We should pray for that meekness being willing to put aside our own interpretations, preconceived logic and reasoning.

    Today you see and hear so much “Follow your heart” which is counterfeit instruction and can lead us into serious error according to Jeremiah 17: 5-10. V. 9 says that that “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it.” v.10 “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give to man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.”
    Let’s pray as King David did in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” O Lord help us to live out Your love as expressed in 1 Cor. 13 and in your Holy Scriptures walking faithfully in Your great Love, Grace and Mercy WITHOUT MOVING or REMOVING Your “landmarks” and instructions of your Word for right living; in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen

    Psalm 148: 13b says God magnified His Word ABOVE all His Name!
    God’s Word is pure; He’s guaranteed It. It’s like when you write a check and you guarantee it by putting you name below it. We can go to bank so to say with God’s Word.
    Scripture says that God is not man that he would lie.
    Let obey 2 Tim 2:15 and actually study God’s Word rather than just talking about it.
    Let’s start esteeming God’s Word above our names like Bill Graham did holding It high and men and women will be delivered!. Love to all!

    • D. Bergen says:

      I cringe every time I see the twin study quoted as evidence that sexual orientation must be a choice which can be unmade. Please stop blemishing your argument with this complete misunderstanding of the role of twin studies, of characteristics determined by DNA, and of the many other factors that determine our biology. *THIS IS IMPORTANT* because it’s a major part of an African leader’s defense of vigilante actions against “suspected gayists” – people are tortured to death based on this argument repeated across North American social media.
      We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and sexuality is certainly a complex part of how we were woven together in the womb. Twin studies can find a general pattern of simple inheritance, but surely you’re not saying that all “identical” twins are in fact completely identical in all ways of thinking and feeling? And surely we don’t need to think long before coming up with characteristics that become part of who we are between egg fertilization and birth, or between birth and puberty? You might even reconsider arguments that are dependent on such use of research. Or not. But it’s kinda embarrassing. (And lethal.)

      • Herb Reed says:

        All one needs to ask when someone insists that sexual orientation is a choice is to ask, “when was it that you chose to be attracted to the opposite sex?”

  150. Donovan J. Beyeler says:

    How are Christians – those who value Scripture as God’s Word, to deal with scientific questions?

    We should understand that literalism is not just an outdated curiosity or an object of jesting. It can be dangerous. A responsible view of the biblical stories must account for the scientific facts, not dismiss them, ignore them, or – as in some cases – manipulate them.

    And then there is the realization that the root of the conflicts many times for many Christians is not just scientific or even theological, but group identity and fear of losing what it offers.

    Arriving on the scene is the issues of heterosexuality, homosexuality (and LGBT) and the Church. Suppose we find that genetic research gives support to the hypothesis that heterosexuality, homosexuality, and that continuum in between stems from over, under, and medium expression of certain genes on the the DNA sequence involved with sexual preferences. We have just that when epigenetic researchers have found that stronger than average epi-marks, epigenomes that are wrapped lightly around a DNA sequence, convert sexual preference in individuals without altering genitalia or sexual identity. Consider an article at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121211083212.htm

    The journal article is free and downloadable as a PDF file at the journal, The Quarterly Review of Biology. Or consider: Epigenetic Theories of Homosexuality
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetic_theories_of_homosexuality

    Sound scholarly Biblical criticism and interpretation continually needs to take Scripture in context and ask the question, what were the authors’ intent. Honesty in interpreting Scripture requires reconciling a biblical view with science since most biblical writers assumed that the earth was flat, was made by God in relatively recent history (about 4,000 years before Jesus) just as it looks now, and that it is the fixed point in the cosmos over which the sun actually rises and sets. Most Christians don’t have a problem here in reconciling science with their biblical view but fail to view much of sexuality with new scientific research and insights. Why is that?

  151. Jeff Barbose says:

    I am an outsider. I am an atheist, but perhaps you will interpret my particular worldview as being ultimately spiritual and assume that God appears at the furthest extent.

    I am also gay. Not “homosexual”. One thing that all Christian denominations appear to choose to do is call us “homosexuals” and not “gay people”. Maybe it’s the “people” part that hits too close to home and makes you feel uncomfortable when you’re shunning and condemning us.

    But we *are* people: don’t be clinical and cold to us. Call it “loving the sinner” if you must, but everyone deserves human respect.

    I’m glad I have parents that are more like Chester & Sara Jane than those of you who criticize them. To my knowledge, my parents have not suffered such attacks specifically because they have a gay son, and I’m glad for that, too.

    I wonder about people like you folks — religious, polite ilk — who, when faced with a real person right in front of them would retreat from the person and the moment and into the cold comfort of absolutist words.

    From what I remember, I don’t think Jesus would have defaulted to quoting the Torah, treating a person to exactly how he will be damned and why. I think instead he’d make a friend of that person, and — at least his human side, I suppose — would be willing to do the work required to understand someone different to him.

    Wasn’t everyone different to him? Did he not favor the company of those who did that same work to understand him and his differences?

    I wonder.

  152. Keith, Calling your wife’s grandfather “Mr. Wenger” sounds a bit cold to me. Do you deny him the status of a brother in Christ who has an obligation to give counsel to the church and to his descendants? Can you not honor him for his integrity as a student of the Bible, a follower of Jesus, and as an ancestor of your wife and your children and your children’s children if you are so blessed? You need not agree with him to honor and love him. Please assure us (and him) that you honor him for his place in your life. – Martin Lehman

    • Troy Miller says:

      Jesus did not welcome the counsel of those that twisted or disregarded Scripture, whether the Pharisees in the temple of Jerusalem or Jezebel in the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2.) He was gentle with the lost, but a firebrand to the distorters. Instead of honoring other’s “obligations to give counsel to the church,” Paul tells Timothy not to allow others to teach contrary to sound doctrine, specifying homosexuality (1 Timothy 1:3-11). That being said, we are also instructed to be respectful to older men, and to correct everyone with gentleness. “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25). May that be the case in this situation!

    • Keith Miller says:

      Martin, I did not intend any disrespect; I intended the opposite. I had considered addressing him as Chester or Grandpa, but I finally settled on Mr. Wenger because I thought it was the most respectful.

  153. Greg Schulz says:

    Grace, grace, and more grace! Jesus paid the price for ALL. His love and sacrifice leveled the playing field. No matter what you’ve done, who you are, what you do, if you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, you are righteous. That’s the Gospel. Issues like this split churches and divide the body. Jesus’ desire was and still is that His body remains unified. No mater what our opinions are, if we have given our lives over to Jesus, we are family. All of us. And we need to make sure that as we express our opinions on these issues, that they don’t divide us. Jesus said that we should be as one, and that the world would know Him through our unity. Our unity is a testament to our Lord. If we get so caught up and upset over these issues that we divide ourselves, then WE are living in sin and not in love as Jesus commanded.
    With that said……..I have an opinion 🙂 I firmly believe that the Bible is very clear when it comes to how God feels about homosexuality. There are too many verses that just cannot be explained away. No amount of theological gymnastics can jump and dance a person past the very clear fact that God disapproves of homosexual relations. It’s not our job to make the scriptures conform to our culture, but to be God’s ambassadors and agents in conforming our culture to His perfect Word. Culture’s change, God’s truth does not. Do I have a problem fellowshipping, worshipping, or praying with those practicing homosexuality? Absolutely NOT!! I sin on a daily basis. If we were only to fellowship with those who never sinned, then there would be no church. None of us live perfectly according to God’s Word, and yet because of what Jesus has done for us, God calls us perfect and righteous. EVERY last one of us who have put our faith in Christ. That’s the Gospel. Not to love, accept and treat EVERY person who has faith in Christ as a righteous and holy son/daughter of God, is to not agree with the Gospel and say that Jesus’ sacrifice was not good enough. We are ALL equal under God’s grace…..But here’s the thing…..If I have a dear friend and brother in Christ who has an issue with stealing, I will not treat him any different then any other brother in Christ. But I will by NO means sit outside the bank while they rob it and drive the getaway car for him. And I feel the same about a pastor marrying a same sex couple. The Church of God is meant to be the most welcoming, loving, and accepting community on earth, but we are also to encourage each other in living lives that correspond to our righteous identity in Christ. There is a very fine balance here that requires the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.

    Thanks, Greg.

    • Herb Reed says:

      “It’s not our job to make the scriptures conform to our culture,”

      Fair enough, but in fact, the scriptures were written in a particular culture and time and place which is very different from our own. The word “homosexual” did not even exist until the late 19th century so how can you be so sure that when you read it in your bible it means the same thing today as what it meant in the original writing? And it is not just this one word which is a problem. The bible uses many terms in the discussion of sexual activity which do not have the same meaning today. In fact there seems to be no discussion at all of the idea of same-sex marriage – it is not condemned because it is not even mentioned. This notion that we can just read the bible in a literal way and know what it means is absurd when one thinks about it. We have nine Supreme Court Justices who spend all of their time trying to interpret a Constitution which was written a little over 200 years ago. And quite often they cannot agree on how it applies to situations today. So how can you say that you understand with clarity the literal meaning of something which was written nearly 2000 years ago and more in some cases? That is not “theological gymnasts”, that is reality. Everyone who reads the bible interprets it in some way – no one “just reads the words as they are written.” Even a commandment which seems straightforward, “Thou shall not kill.” is not – many people say no, it means “Thou shall not murder.” There is a big difference between killing in self defense or as a soldier and murder. Or is there? Many Mennonites would say no.

  154. b. burzynski says:

    Check out the First Mennonite Faith Formation in Denver Colorado who has an open lesbian pastor. Don’t put God in a box.

  155. Colleen Mks says:

    WWJD? John 8:7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I DO NOT CONDEMN YOU, either. Go. From now on SIN NO MORE.”

    I’m no authority but I think this is pretty clear. He does not condemn the sinner, but He does command them to sin no more. We are to love everyone just as Christ does, but that does not mean that we should accept and condone their sin.

    1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

    We are not supposed to compromise, although we are in the world we are not supposed to be of the world.

  156. Christopher says:

    Whatever your religious belief, the love for one’s own child is bigger. What a beautiful father and mother this one has. They’ll know we are Christians by our love. That’s it. Everything else is a distraction.

    • Thomas Matheny says:

      Matthew 10 37

      Take up Your Cross
      37″He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38″And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.…

  157. Dan Shenk (Goshen) says:

    When I first saw and read Chester Wenger’s “Open letter to my beloved church” several days ago, I printed it out, then read it to my wife. I called it an “earthquake” that would shake the Mennonite Church. Reading over many of the comments this evening hasn’t changed my opinion about the earthquake part. To slightly shift the metaphor, I’m reminded of the strong wind of Acts 2:2. The Holy Spirit was moving then — and is still moving now. Thank you, Chester, for your courage and compassion.

    • Thomas Matheny says:

      There is division in the body on this and other practices, just this one is in the forefront of some actives who are in sink with the cultur of the world around us. Groups have formed and decided with desire to be a witness for God. For those who find it right to form fellowship elsewhere
      Remember to pray for revival and repentance.

  158. Frank Peachey says:

    A huge amount of passion and energy is being consumed in the Mennonite church over the issue of same gender relationships. Oh, that we felt even half this much passion and concern over the issues Jesus actually did teach on – pride, greed, selfishness, envy, wealth, self righteousness, lust (heterosexual or otherwise), to name just a few. If we believe these sins are not broadly present within the Mennonite church (and every church across the globe), then we have truly lost touch with reality.

  159. Anotherjunkie2 says:

    While I believe loving our neighbor includes everyone…including people we find very difficult to love….I don’t believe it in includes allowing things God does not permit as saying it is okay. We should not bully, ridicule, ostracize, etc. We should allow jobs and equal treatment under the law. We should welcome to church a person struggling with anything in life. We have all been there. The world is broken down and all have fallen short of God’s glory. However, we are held to a standard that God gave for marriage. Many of us have broken it and this includes me. But if we follow God with our heart, he forgives and restores and heals. He gives us new chances daily. I just don’t think the Church is the place to officially endorse what God has called an act against his very creation itself. It’s not that homosexuals are unlovable worthless people. They are God’s children too. It’s just homosexuality itself is how Satan has turned the very commandment God told Adam and Eve and living things to do..go forth and be fruitful and multiply. Satan has done this perversion to God’s very beautiful creation. It’s the antithesis of God’s plan to fill the Earth with beautiful life. It is confusing, heart breaking, and in no way scientifically valid way to seek a mate. God loves each person whole. He wants us all to be whole. We all seek love in many places. We all need to seek it from Him.

  160. Paul W. Herr, D.O. says:

    Thanks to Donovan J. Beyler for your comments and especially the “Epigenetics” article. I suspect that this sort of mechanism is very responsible for sexual preferences and much more in our world.

    And thank you to Chester and Sara Jane.

  161. […] recently read an open letter written by a pastor of a fundamental, Anabaptist church (http://themennonite.org/opinion/open-letter-beloved-church/). As with many fundamentalist, Anabaptist believers, for years he believed and preached that […]

  162. Craig and Karen Long Mount Union, PA says:

    Ezekiel 18:20-32 “The being who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the
    crookedness of the father, nor the father bear the crookedness of the son. The
    righteousness of the righteous is upon himself, and the wrongness of the wrong is upon himself.
    But the wrong, if he turns from all his sins which he has done, and he shall
    guard all My Laws, and shall do right-ruling and righteousness, he shall certainly live; he shall not die.
    All the transgressions which he has done shall not be remembered against him;
    in his righteousness that he has done, he shall live.
    Have I any pleasure in the death of the wrong? declares the Master YHVH. Is it nothat he should turn from his ways and live?
    But when a righteous one turns away from his righteousness and does
    unrighteousness, according to all the abominations that the wrong one has
    done, shall he live? All his righteousness which he has done shall not be
    remembered. For his trespass which he has committed, and for his sin
    which he has committed, for them he shall die.
    And you said, The way of YHVH is not right. Hear now, O house of Israel,
    is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?
    When a righteous one turns away from his righteousness, and does
    unrighteousness, and he dies in it, it is because of his unrighteousness
    which he has done that he dies.
    And when the wrong turns away from the wrong which he has done, and
    he does right-ruling and righteousness, he keeps himself alive.
    Because he sees and turns away from all the transgressions which he has
    done, he shall certainly live; he shall not die.
    And the house of Israel have said, The way of YHVH is not right. Are My
    ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right?
    Therefore I judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,
    declares the Master YHVH. Repent, and turn back from all your transgressions, and let not crookedness be a stumbling block to you.
    Cast away from you all the transgressions, by which you have transgressed
    and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you
    die, O house of Israel?
    For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, declares the Master YHVH
    So turn back, and live.”

    But thanks be to YHVH for His indescribable Gift, Yahshua ~ the Yah Who Saves! May we each one, as He while He walked the earth as a man and
    yet His Father through and through, walk in the Light of His Countenance
    and Presence and Shalom.

  163. JesusLovr says:

    Either God’s word is absolute, unchanging truth, which, as humans we endeavor to follow and fail miserably at it always, or it is a collection of ideas, suggestions and some truth, ready to be picked over like a Sunday Smorgasbord, to the liking of the hungry ones, thus not allowing us to feel any remorse or failure for not being able to live up to it’s standards.

    The one thing remains: Jesus Christ is THE only One who was ever able to follow all of God’s truths, precepts, laws and desires. My salvation is in HIM alone, yet I cannot follow anything in God’s Word, unless it is done through Him alone, Yet, does that mean I can lie, cheat, steal murder, covet and the like? No, I must endeavor to show fruits of righteousness. Again, I do fail, daily.

    God’s Word is the standard that I, as a young tomato plant, must tie my life to, in order to be brought up the way that He desires me to grow and live. These two truths do co-exist: I am complete in Christ and I must display fruits of righteousness.

    Homosexuality is like all other sins…it is a sin, and it is what humans do. We would never allow a thief to be accepted for his behavior, even though, he only robs banks and does no other stealing at all. It’s still a sin to steal. The same as it is still a sin to practice homosexual acts, the same as it is to lust after someone you are desiring sexually, the same as it is to lie to anyone, the same as it is to take the name of the Lord in vain… and on and on.

    Truth always takes a beating when many who are affected personally by these issues, start to wonder if God might allow an exception just for them.

    If you could ask Ananias, and his wife Sapphira, if they thought the early church would allow an exception to them lying about their gift, I wonder what they would say?

  164. Judy Meeks says:

    Thank you for share this part of your life with us. I am a member of an Episcopal church with homosexuals members and minister. To quote the hymn, “We are one in The Spirit and one in the Lord and we know we are Christians by our Love.” May you and your loved ones continue to know God’s love, be surrounded by His light, and filled with His peace and joy.

  165. Vaughn says:

    I’ve not read every comment but did read many and most of it is man’s opinion, referenced as though it’s God’s but with almost no reference to Him, His Word. He speaks just fine on ALL matters, but not ALL have their heart open to Him, even though they, “… thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:” The Pharisees and Sadducees could make this claim as well. They also claimed they were right with God and some would even put it, ““whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” But this must be tempered by Jesus Christ’s admonishment, “21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Mt 7: 21-23)
    Jesus’ commentary on those who the “culture” of Judaism looked to, to determine what they should believe (Pharisees and Sadducees), “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. (Mt. 22:29)
    The problem is rarely “knowledge” or “information” “context” but “content” soul, is the soul open to hear and obey His word?
    Most of the arguments are fraught with “assumption”, which as CS Lewis points out is a greater danger than those matters in the open.

    Homosexuality/Sodom is sin: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor. 6:9-10) to which Paul (God) points out, ““such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11). “were”, past tense. The issue is not if a Christian can love as God does and reject homosexuality, as our culture (religion) has deceived, even the church to believe. It is a matter of what is God’s opinion, not what we think it is and twist it to meet our perverse deception. Rom. 1:28-32 means just what it says, “…they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,…those who practice such thing are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
    The grace of God is saving those who “repent” and are no longer of this world’s sin. He does not offer “cheap grace” of the perversion of contemporary culture.
    With all due respect those who try to make homosexuality out to be something other than sin, need to repent of their sin.

  166. Evan Knappenberger says:

    What a powerful witness. Thank you C. & S.J. Wenger, for your dedication to the truth of Christ above doctrine.

  167. Anna Groff says:

    From Carl Keener: Blessings to the Wengers for their courageous acts of love and devotion to make the world a bit better than when they found it. In this regard, they follow in the footsteps of brave and courageous Mennonites of yesteryear. Two examples.

    In his The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant pointed out that the great Jewish philosopher, Spinoza, excommunicated by the local Jewish synagogue, and later attacked by a ruffian, decided that, in the words of Durant, “there are few places in this world where it is safe to be a philosopher, [and thus] he went to live in a quiet attic room….His host and hostess were Christians of the Mennonite sect, and could in some measure understand a heretic. They liked his sadly kind face (those who have suffered much become very bitter or very gentle), and were delighted when, occasionally, he would come down of an evening, smoke his pipe with them, and tune his talk to their simple strain.”

    In his History of Knowledge, Charles Van Doren, wrote that “[t]he earliest protest against slavery in the American colonies dates to 1688, when a Mennonite meeting in Germantown, Pennsylvania, penned a memorandum stating its profound opposition to Negro slavery. These simple libertarians proclaimed, ‘Though they are black, we cannot conceive there is more liberty to have them slaves, as it is to have other white ones.’”

    Ah, yes, the heretics and simple libertarians of yesteryear, but the Wengers show that we have not lost our courage to be heretical and visionary.

    Carl S Keener,
    State College, PA

    • Donovan J. Beyeler says:

      Carl S. Keener, your arguments have always made sense to me in every publication where you have posted letters to the editor since days at EMC in the early 1960s. Many thanks and appreciation to you for sharing your insight through the many years.

    • Herb Reed says:

      Thanks Carl. Had not heard the Spinoza story before. I could see Spinoza having a conversation with Chester and Sara Jane.

  168. Jasa Ppat says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and calling for your community of faith to rethink their approach. I have a private Facebook support group for moms of lgbt kids who love their lgbt kids unconditionally and want to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for their kids and family to live. There are more than 240 moms in the group and we continue to grow. So many of the moms have left the faith communities they have trusted and given their life to because it didn’t turn out to be a safe place for their kids or family to be.

  169. David Baines says:

    What is this heresy that now blights the body of Christ? Homosexuality is an absolute lie of the devil. It is against all that God had intended for His creation – to be fruitful and multiply. Although we live in a ruined creation blighted by the sin of our original parents, homosexuality, including same sex marriage, are a strong rebellion against the Creator.

    Must we put political correctness, moral relativism and social engineering before the Word of God? It matters not how long a homosexual or lesbian couple have been together, or how committed they are to one another. What matters is, such relationships are an abomination in His sight. Please, let us review the scriptures on the matter:

    “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:13)

    “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” (Leviticus 18:22)

    ” For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.…” (Romans 1:25-27)

    “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)

    “On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.…” (1 Corinthians 6:9)

    Dear brethren, I am not for a moment holding anyone in judgment here, as I too have failed our Lord on many occasions. Must we will all one day be judged by His Word. I do not condone violence or outright rejection of the homosexual, but we must support and witness lovingly to those people, and pray that the Lord will show them the serious error that is putting them under judgment. Indeed, those churches that accept and “bless” same sex unions are misleading the couple in question and assuring their damnation. But so many of us who profess to become Christians have strayed far from the Lord.

    ” unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.… (2 Timothy 3:4)

    Let us commit ourselves to prayer, to the study of Hid Word, and seek His will for our lives in humble obedience, and avoid the snares of worldly pleasures, sin, and sexual immorality that Satan has put in our way.

  170. […] An open letter to my beloved church (The Mennonite) […]

  171. “The most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.” – Christopher Hitchens

    When it comes to differences in sexual orientation and gender identity, the cultures wars force people into the corners of tolerance or intolerance. What if people could reach beyond such polarizing positions and connect with others whose beliefs, values, and lifestyle they disagree with or even find offensive?

    Over the past year, Dr. Gary Barnes and Kurt Neale traveled the country, posing this question to scores of people with different sexual and gender identities. Compelling Love & Sexual Identity is the result: a thought-provoking and moving feature-length documentary film that captures their personal stories and candid responses.

    We thought you may find of interest our documentary film, which you may watch for free and online at compellinglovefilm.com.

    Let us know what you think!

    Grace and Truth,

    The Compelling Love Team

  172. Dan Lais says:

    …so when the state said it was OK then it was OK. Too many church leaders hiding behind the laws of the state rather than following their convictions. It is not easy when children misbehave, but I find it rather oxymoronical to use state law to validate inappropriate behavior even when it means going counter to what “the Beloved Church” has defined as good behavior.

  173. Donna Stock says:

    Thank you, Chester, for your thoughtful and reasoned statement. My beloved United Methodist church is struggling with this issue too and I am hopeful that one day SOON all of God’s children will be welcomed.

  174. Brother Jon says:

    Dear brother in the Lord,

    You did the right thing. God bless you.

  175. […] Wenger has not only written about his decision to officiate at his son’s wedding in the Mennonite media, but also submitted an op-ed piece to the newspaper in his home city of Lancaster. You can read it […]

  176. Marbury says:

    Wow. I read all 176 comments. Skimmed many, true, but got the gist of things very well.

    I’d like to score the debate. The Pros (those supporting Wenger) used several main lines of defense.

    1) Love rules
    2) You Bible-quoters don’t follow the scriptures yourselves, particularly the OT ones related to the Law
    3) Stop hating

    The Cons has several lines of attack:

    1) Shove your love, the Bible says …
    2) OK, I’ll drop the OT verses, let’s listen to Paul
    3) You stop hating … and stop caving to popular culture

    And the winner was … the Cons. Sorry, but the Pros simply couldn’t dislodge the NT’s view of a proper marriage and the sin of homosexuality, at least not without dropping the Bible as an arbiter which, if they do so, moves everything out into “Do your one thing” land.

    But it was a great back and forth.

    • Donovan J Beyeler says:

      The chief reason that conservative oriented Christians (fundamentalists, neo-fundamentalists, and most conservative evangelicals) must argue to their dying breath about the “choice” issue is this: If it’s true that a person does not choose their sexual orientation — that it is something completely innate from birth — then it paints a picture of the God of the Hebrew Bible as being a vicious and unfair punisher of people for something they did not ask for and cannot change.

      Naturally, these people don’t believe that God is that cruel or unfair, so this sets off a huge case of the classic psychological “cognitive dissonance” phenomenon in these people: Both things can’t be true. Therefore, to quell this conflict in their perceptions, they must attack the argument from the other direction. They simply can not relent on this point, or it blows open the fact that their entire belief about 100% Biblical inerrancy or infallibility is in error, (which it is). (But that doesn’t say that the Scriptures aren’t infallible for Christian salvation and faith.) What happens for these conservative Christians is that since they don’t believe that God is cruel or unfair, then it must be of Satan, the devil, or demons, which I pointed out above is not so, necessarily. Cognitive dissonance, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

      • Mystdragon says:

        No cognitive dissonance needed. God created man and woman; he could have made us with only one sex if he wanted; he did make other creatures that have both or one sex. Science has not determined the cause of homosexuality. In addition, there is scientific genetic or developmental evidence for stealing, alcoholism, anger and even murder in case of psychosis; they were born that way and have no choice. But that doesn’t stop people from saying that those are not sinful acts. Did God make these people like this? The answer is the same answer that we have been sayin for 2,000 years; God created a perfect world, and as a result of original sin all disease and pain entered into it. Only an evil God would create a person who could not have a child with the person they love as a part of the great plan, and that is not the Christian God.–Dale Brunelle

  177. Donovan J Beyeler says:

    Why are the so-called “cons” wrong, because there is no contextual understanding of the Old and New Testament literature, and scientific evidence for their position.

    Try reading some evidence contrary to your views for a challenge.

    Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective Paperback – April 1, 2004 by Martti Nissinen (Author)

    Try going to Google Scholar for a comprehensive book regarding epigenetic development of gender, etc.

    Epigenetic Shaping of Sociosexual Interactions: From Plants to Humans (Advances in Genetics) by Daisuke Yamamoto (Editor)
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    Review Article Provides Evidence on the Biological Nature of Gender Identity
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 13, 2015
    The article was led by researchers at Boston University school of Medicine (BUSM). (Boston)—Medical care of transgender patients, including surgical and hormonal treatment, has largely been met with resistance by physicians in favor of psychiatric treatment, owing to misconceptions that gender identity can be changed. According to a review article in Endocrine Practice, there is increasing evidence of a biological basis for gender identity that may change physicians’ perspective on transgender medicine and improve health care for these patients.

    Disorders of gender identity affect as many as 1 in 100 people. Transgender individuals are those who identify with a gender that differs from their natal sex. Different etiologies have been suggested as the cause of transgender identify however none have been proven definitively.

    The researchers conducted a literature search and reviewed articles that showed positive biologic bases for gender identity. These included disorders of sexual development, such as penile agenesis, neuroanatomical differences, such as grey and white matter studies, and steroid hormone genetics, such as genes associated with sex hormone receptors. They conclude that current data suggests a biological etiology for transgender identity.

    This paper represents the first comprehensive review of the scientific evidence that gender identity is a biological phenomenon,” explains corresponding author Joshua D. Safer, MD, FACP.

    Now put yourself into the boots of someone who biologically has a disease or gender orientation of genetic or epi-genetic reasons, and ask yourself, did you do something wrong to cause this? Did you sin because of your biologically induced condition? I consider it unethical to put the blame on an entity called Satan/devil/demons.

    After understanding the epi-genetic reasons for gender orientation, we need with humility to live life without all the answers for now and in the future with the ambiguities, the paradoxes in the Bible, the conflict of sayings by the authors, and the insecurity of not knowing that everything is so clear in the Scriptures. We will be better for it and an even more empathic, loving, generous, well informed Christians.

  178. Jennifer A. Sinclair says:

    I commend Chester Wenger! A Godly man that does not discriminate! Even when his Church retired him……..Chester Wenger is my hero. Bravo! If I were to marry, I would want no one less than Chester Wenger to sign my marriage certificate.

  179. Michael Guy says:

    A wonderful story because of the act of love on the part of parents to support their son and his partner. Also a sad and disappointing story because of the actions of the church to retire you.

    Thank you for writing this letter, without conflict there can never be change and change is needed for all of the valid reasons you stated. .

  180. ana says:

    romans 1 24-27
    we are in the last days….

  181. John James Kaiser says:

    The stunning ignorance of even the most basic scriptural history and context is an indictment of a larger Christianity that has done very little to let the research and understandings of its best minds filter down to those who fill the churches. To quote the Old Testament without any understanding of OT views of sexuality and society is a disservice to the text and to God. That the very word “homosexual” is a modern invention and is so far removed from OT sexuality that was more concerned, as were societies of the time, with the issues of sexual degradation/feminization that came with being penetrated (a reason why the Old Leviticus code didn’t both to mention lesbianism) so common in that time as part of temple prostitution and the trauma of losing a war (as male on male rape was a common part of the subjugation of conquered peoples in the old world).

    Moreover, to quote the NT views of Paul without acknowledging the importance of understanding distinctions between the cultural and the spiritual, does no one any good. Especially when these things are done to marginalize. Plus, should we ignore the other ways we have reframed Paul (exclusion of women from leadership) by understanding how Paul dealt with a specific cultural context.

    The discussion from those who condemn this man seems to come primarily from people who show almost no awareness of the great amount of scholarship on this issue. They act as if their view is the unchallenged belief of the church and that these issues didn’t begin until half a century ago. Yet, this couldn’t more wrong. For those willing to learn there are a host of sources out there, Christian scholarly sources, that explore this issue and the need for understanding.

    • geoffrobinson says:

      And 5 months from now when there are 5000 different genders people will look back at your argument and say “his views of sexuality weren’t ours today.”

      So what?

      They condemned homosexual activity. It doesn’t matter that the term was created in the 20th century.

      Geoff Robinson

  182. […] wrote an open letter to the Mennonite Church titled “An open letter to my beloved church,” calling for more acceptance of LGBTQ individuals. It went […]

  183. […] wrote an open letter to the Mennonite Church titled “An open letter to my beloved church,” calling for more acceptance of LGBTQ individuals. It went […]

  184. […] wrote an open letter to the Mennonite Church titled “An open letter to my beloved church,” calling for more acceptance of LGBTQ individuals. It went […]

  185. […] open letter to Mennonite Church USA, which lays out the biblical and theological rationale for his change in belief about LGBTQ […]

  186. […] Wenger’s “An open letter to my beloved church” in 2014 was a beautiful, poignant reflection by a man who dedicated his life to the Mennonite […]

  187. […] in order to officiate his son’s gay wedding. In his nineties, Wenger concluded his career by penning an open-letter to the Mennonite church, a letter that went viral, in which he encouraged them to accept and not turn away “the most […]

  188. […] Wenger wrote an op-ed about the experience called “An Open Letter to my Beloved Church.” […]

  189. […] An open letter to my beloved church – … – I am profoundly reluctant to write this letter because I know there are those it will wound deeply. But I have also come to the conviction that I can no longer hide … […]

  190. […] I do not write this for sympathy or pity. Hell no. I write to get through it somehow like Chester Wenger and his wife did and continue to do. Nature is indifferent to our struggle. Like Nature, the Internet is indifferent […]

  191. […] life to with his unconditional love for his gay son. He confronted his church, but he did so with grace and respect. Not with scorn, nor carrots and […]

  192. Loren James says:

    Yes we should talk to gay people, be kind to them, witness to them, but to allow practicing homosexuals and their lifestyle to continue in the church is not the teaching of Christ. If you love God, then you should hate sin; if you don’t warn those practicing sexually immoral and sinful lifestyles, then you hate them because you don’t care about their souls, being saved, making it to heaven and not going to hell (unpopular teaching today). There is a reason why John the Baptist came first to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry.
    How could a minister who knows the teachings of God’s Word marry his own son into a homosexual relationship? That is not love at all. Remember Eli the high priest who honored his sons above the LORD?

    What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Rom. 6:1-2

    One of the problems today is when people say “we interpret the bible in light of the teachings of Jesus” they interpret with their own slant neglecting the rest of the bible, but if you remember Jesus existed from all eternity as the Son of God and appearing in the Old Testament times as The Angel of the LORD, He also commissioned the apostles, including the Apostle Paul to write scripture as directed by the Holy Spirit.
    Do you think Jesus, the Son of God disagrees with God the Father or the Holy Spirit? Yes we are under a New Covenant but that does not mean it’s OK to practice immorality and teach it in the church as an acceptable lifestyle.

  193. […] An open letter to my beloved church – The Mennonite – I am profoundly reluctant to write this letter because I know there are those it will wound deeply. But I have also come to the conviction that I can no longer hide … […]

  194. […] me cry: This letter by Chester Wenger, a 98-year-old former Mennonite pastor and father of a gay son. He performed the […]

  195. […] You can read the remarkable letter that Chester wrote to his beloved church. In it, he makes a cogent, reasoned and eloquent defense of his journey as both a father and a pastor. He comes to some conclusions about the church’s need to reexamine it’s interpretations of Scripture and argues for them with the gentle force of a man much at peace with himself and his convictions. […]

  196. Monica says:

    Thank you for this, with my entire heart. As the mom who took in a Conservative Mennonite boy after his father tried to “beat the gay out of him” and kicked him out of his home just days after he turned 18, I am eternally grateful for Mennonites like you. You give me hope that some day, he will learn to accept himself as a beloved child of God instead of the broken boy who fluctuates between no belief in God and hating God for making him who he is. Thank you so very much for this.–Monica Thompson

  197. […] Beyond those two, I listened to a lot of Marc Maron’s WTF (always skip the first 10 minutes) and really enjoyed his interview with Louis Anderson, who I didn’t realize was a serious standup. (Part of why I really enjoy WTF is that it’s effectively a show about the creative process. When he goes deep with someone on how they do their craft I find it endless fascinating. While the Louis episode isn’t exactly that, it’s also just loads of fun to listen to anyone serious about anything talk to someone they so clearly respect.) Gladwell’s Revisionist History was pretty good (though sometimes a bit preachy). His episode on Generous Orthodoxy was just a very well told story (and when you’re done, go read the letter the show was based on). […]

  198. Max Anderson says:

    Accurate translation of the Bible verses quoted by commenters, some of whom claimed homosexuality is the work of Satan, is controversial. For example, the quoted prohibition against sodomy in 1 Corinthians 6:9 may be condemning sex with children, according to the Roman Catholic-approved “New American Bible” (1986) commentary.
    Max Anderson

Leave a Reply