As I spoke with Jamie Bruesehoff, our Pride Month speaker on Transgender Advocacy to be held on June 22, I expressed my biggest concern. “I just don’t want people to show up who have a predetermined agenda that shuts down questions from participants. I want this to be a ‘safe-ish’ space that allows people the freedom to ask questions.” She had a wonderful reply. “We want to encourage people to attend who have a ‘holy curiosity’ about the topic of transgender identity.”
A holy curiosity? What a wonderful way to express how a disciple of Christ ought to live out our lives! Imagine if the original disciples did not have a “holy curiosity.” Would Peter have been willing to change his position on how the Gentiles were to be included in the newly forming community of The Way that originally was comprised and led by Jews proscribing all members must abide by Jewish law? Would Luther have been open to the concept of priests being able to marry? Would the Lutheran Church have been willing to change their position on the ordination of women in 1970? Having a holy curiosity seems to be a part of a healthy Christian’s discipleship DNA from the very beginning until now and beyond. The challenge, of course, is by having a holy curiosity it also means one must be willing to change one’s mindset and behavior in the presence of new information or change in reality. I know I did. In 1999 the ELCA created a draft Human Sexuality Statement that did not pass at the Churchwide Assembly. At the time I was thankful because I was opposed to the prospect that I would be required to officiate publicly accountable lifelong monogamous same sex marriages. But in 2003 we had a lesbian exchange student whom we loved as our own for the eleven months she lived with us, and continue to relate to her as our daughter. She has been married for ten years and we have a grandson by her as well. Between my relationship with her, updated scientific studies, and increased biblical scholarship and theological reasoning my position has changed completely. I’ve even officiated some weddings for those in the LGBTQIA community. But it would never have occurred if I didn’t first maintain a “holy curiosity” when it came to this issue from the beginning.
Having a “holy curiosity” is similar to having a “beginner’s mind” that participants in this year’s Lenten Midweek study of the book “Prayer: a Primer” discovered. In it the author reminds readers, and us, that a “Beginner’s mind is a state of mind that is open, curious, not intimidated by seeming contradictions and paradoxes, eager to explore possibilities, at home with mystery.” In other words, to have a “beginner’s mind” or “holy curiosity” means we acknowledge we don’t have all the answers or are the expert on any topic or issue. We can always learn something new and may change our mind or perspective on an issue because of that new information. The church has always adapted to a changing culture to share, proclaim and reveal the truth of the gospel through word and deed. As we celebrate Pride Month in June, I hope all of us can embrace a “holy curiosity” or a “beginner’s mind” as we discover what it means to be advocates and allies of God’s children in the LGBTQIA community.