Dr. Deb speaks

I’m a psychiatrist who sees the work of God in the awesomeness of the brain – the ways we are made to become ourselves in relationships, the actions of grace in the so-strong pull towards healing, the infinite diversity, the power of nonviolence to facilitate change, etc. If God isn’t a Mennonite, at least I can hope that the Anabaptist traditions can witness to some of the divine wind that sustains the universe.

As one whose “Mennoniteness” is so deeply woven into thought and action, I have been constantly inspired by the courage and grace of the queers who have persistently modeled commited faith – in spite of such absolute invalidation, stubborn misunderstandings and attempts to exclude from both church and faith, you/they have continued to show up, use gifts for the growth of Christ’s body, offer the cup of cold water and prayers of the heart. For all the ways that you stay in communication, while still claiming whatever space you need to be your God-shaped selves, thank you.

As a psychiatrist I see on a near daily basis the impact of the persecution of those who don’t fit the mainstream heterosexual mold. And so as a human being, as one who journeys with those seeking healing, and as a Christian, I need to urge my fellow believers to create life-saving space for those who are threatened by active hate whether that is from another person or within themselves. I dream of the day when young people will not associate their sexuality with self-destruction, when the middle-aged will be appreciated for modeling respectful love, becoming family for orphans, and freely expressing that of God within them rather than breaking their hearts and souls in the struggle to do this, when mentoring and prophecy can be openly offered and received. I dream that our passion for the value of life will lead us to reach out to every frightened youth and adult with comfort rather than ambivalent words that conceal daggers. I dream of a time we will value that crucible of discipleship called marriage regardless of gender, rather than be endlessly shocked at the results of forcing false commitments.

So I totally love the empowerment of this playfulness, and the richness of the chosen symbol. Who’s wearing pink deliberately, and who’s not quite aware of what others see in/on them? How do we find our behavior shaped by this ambiguity, what do we walk towards or cross the street to avoid, what fears start to whisper to us? Do these unknowns (is that pink or light mauve in his tie?) pull us to be paranoid of all intentions or to respect each person as a possible witness of God? How do we pray as we become aware of these thoughts – “Your kingdom come, forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us, deliver us from evil in your power and glory”? Can our public prayers request God provide safety for all regardless of sexual orientation? Could mission booths, book and communication displays, retreats and Sunday School classes have a copy of the openly evangelical Andrew Marin’s “Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community”? Can we release our fears into the nail-scarred, break-breaking hands that are held out to us? Is this how the wind of the Spirit creates cracks through which we can hear God?

– Deb Bergen, MD