6/10/12: Pride: Reoriented Ministry (Hate 2 Love)

Posted on : Jun 7th, 2012 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

“Once social change begins it cannot be reversed.

You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.

You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride.

You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”

– Cesar Chavez –

Happy Pride, everyone!  Cesar Chavez says it all in the quote above.

Twice a week I receive a national GLBT Leadership Forum email.  It’s a compilation of all the news stories regarding issues of importance in and for the GLBT community.  This week’s was quite amazing.  There were far more “victories” than “defeats.”  The plurality of issues was also amazing: Corporations now backing Marriage Equality including Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, and Google.  Even Target is selling Marriage Equality T-shirts with a portion of the sales going to Marriage Equality in Minnesota.  Big change for Target.  A year ago they funded the state-wide ballot initiative prohibiting equal marriage rights.  There were also articles about the constitutionality of DOMA and that the question of its constitutionality is surely headed for the US Supreme Court; an Illinois study that shows “civil unions” are not the answer; an article stating that the number of out Colorado (yes, COLORADO) state legislators could double; Obama includes marriage in annual LGBT Pride proclamation;  U.S. should expedite acceptance of LGBT refugees, advocates say; and the Indianapolis City Council considers benefits for gay city workers.  And of course the wonderful news that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused a review of the 3-judge decision which declares California’s Prop 8 unconstitutional!  The only “bad-news” story was one stating that the North Carolina GOP platform condemns discrimination, but not against gays.  Platform language adopted by the North Carolina Republican party urges government to treat all citizens impartially, but a sentence at the end of the section specifically excludes gays and lesbians. “We oppose all forms of invidious discrimination. Sexual orientation is not an appropriate category,” the document reads.

As I read these I said to myself, “I remember when there were virtually no ‘victory’ stories.  And now look at this!”

Of course this past week, we became one of the victory stories.  Our story of leaving the Presbyterian Church and joining the United Church of Christ was covered in the LA Times [and by Reuters International News Service.]  Our story has been carried, published, quoted and blogged about just about everywhere including the full article in the Standard-Examiner of Ogden, UTAH!  Their head line was:  “Hollywood parish leaves Presbyterian Church over gay rights.”

As I look back on our history I am sadly aware that the place where there has been the least change in homophobic beliefs is in the Christian Church.  In fact, as of Thursday afternoon there were 36 comments posted on the LA Times website underneath the article about our church (click “view comments” to read them all).  They are about 3 to 1 religiously homophobic.  And some violently homophobic.  That is sad. Very sad.

As you probably know, this week the California Senate voted in favor of legislation banning “Reorientation Therapy.”  Here’s a thumbnail sketch:

California’s Senate passes bill to ban gay therapy by Mary Slosson

SACRAMENTO | Wed May 30, 2012 10:46pm EDT

(Reuters) – A bill that would ban a therapy that aims to reverse homosexuality in children and teens passed California’s Senate on Wednesday, moving the state a step closer to becoming the first in the nation to ban the controversial treatment.

The 23-13 vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate marked a major victory for gay rights advocates who say the therapy has no medical basis because homosexuality is not a disorder, and that it can cause depression and lead to substance abuse and suicide.

The bill still needs to be passed by the state Assembly and signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown before it can become law. It is expected to be taken up by the Assembly, also controlled by Democrats, within a month.

“These therapies are dangerous,” Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said on the Senate floor before the vote, citing the case of Ryan Kendall, an outspoken advocate of gay rights who underwent such therapy as a child.

“(Ryan) was told that being gay made God cry,” Lieu said. “He testified that for 10 years of his life, he wanted to commit suicide. He has not done that and now he is speaking out against this type of therapy.”

As I read that article I thought Christianity also needs a similar ban.  Instead of these homophobic reorientation ministries that try to make gay people straight, we need Reorientation or Conversation Ministries that move us from Hate to Love!  And then it dawned on me.  We already have that.  It’s just not followed.  The whole gospel of Jesus Christ is about reorientation ministries.  It’s about allowing God’s loving Grace in Jesus to change us from hate to love.  From the beginning on, it’s worked!

The Apostle Paul started out his life as one of the greatest bullies and oppressors of Christians known in the world.  Every follower of the Resurrected Christ was terrified of him and his tactics.  But Paul, who is called Saul before his conversion experience, encounters the light of the Risen Christ on the Road to Damascus and is converted from a bully and oppressor to a bearer of Christ’s love.  Sadly, Paul didn’t quite get the fullness of this grace especially regarding women’s equality and GLBT equality, but his story is a good example of what happens when we encounter the light of Christ’s love in our lives and let it change us.

For all of us, whether we’re gay or heterosexual, bisexual or transgender, African or Caucasian, Latin or Asian, Indigenous or First Nation people, male or female, young or old, disabled or temporarily abled, no matter who we are, our spiritual calling in Christ is always to move from hate to love.  As Paul show us, that’s not a one-time thing in our lives, but a process of continual enlightenment and change.

That we have this transforming gift in our faith is worth being very proud of!

Happy Pride and God Bless!

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

 

 

Acts 9: 1-30

Saul encounters the light of the Risen Christ on the Road to Damascus and is converted from a bully and oppressor to a bearer of Christ’s love.

1Meanwhile Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of Jesus, went to the high priest 2and asked the priest for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way [that is, the followers of Jesus], he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as Saul was traveling along the road approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5He asked, “Who are you?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

7Those travelling with Saul stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing [for he was blind]; so they led Saul by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9For three days Saul was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. Christ appeared to Ananias in a vision, and called him by name.  Ananias answered, “Here I am.” 11Then Christ said to Ananias, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying. 12He has seen in a vision – a vision in which a man named Ananias comes in and lays his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13But Ananias protested, saying, “I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15But Christ said to him “Go, anyway, for Saul is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then Saul got up and was baptized, 19and after eating some food, he regained his strength.

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “Jesus is the Anointed One of God.” 21All who heard Saul were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who beat and killed those in Jerusalem who invoked Jesus’ name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound in chains before the chief priests?” 22Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.

23 After some time had passed, the Jewish authorities plotted to kill Saul, 24but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night trying to put him to death; 25but one night, Saul’s followers took him and let him down through an opening in the wall – lowering him in a basket.

26 When Saul arrived back in Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27Then Barnabas took charge and introduced Saul to the apostles. Barnabas described to them how on the road Saul had seen and conversed with Jesus, and how ever since that encounter, Saul had been speaking out fearlessly in the name of Jesus at Damascus.

28Saul stayed on with them, moving freely about Jerusalem and expressing himself quite openly in the name or Christ.  29He even spoke with the Greek-speaking Jews and debated with them. 30When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

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