May 15, 2011: Life Style Apps

Posted on : May 12th, 2011 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

As you might imagine, “the Presbyterian world” has been abuzz this week with discussion about “Life Style.”  “Life style” has become a “disguised word” that is used to refer to gay and lesbian people.  In the Presbyterian world, 99% of the time it is used by those opposed to equal spiritual and ordination rights and rites for LGBT Christians in the Presbyterian Church.  Between 1978 and 1996 the faithful opposition in the Church sought long and hard to find a way to discriminate against gay and lesbian Christians without appearing to the world to be too hateful.  In 1996 they finally found “the way.”  They created a system of inequality using an institution that gay and lesbian people did not have access to, to define what was for them an acceptable life style: heterosexual marriage.

Everybody knew this was a sham because for one thing many of the men and women who were married were hardly revealing anything exemplary about their life style.  But then along came the quest for equal marriage rights and the world saw an unbelievable clamoring of gay and lesbian people who WANTED to be MARRIED!  Oops!  There went that strategy!  Suddenly all those dehumanizing stereotypes of “the gay life style” were replaced by gay and lesbian people waiting hours and hours in line to get marriage licenses and fighting discriminatory legal actions that restrict equal marriage rights and rites.

On February 18, 2004 when I flew up to San Francisco with Neal and John to officiate at their marriage after Gavin Newsom declared equal marriage rights in the City of San Francisco, I knew deep in my heart the GAME WAS OVER.  You could not be part of that experience and not know that this was the transformational moment that would change everything.

So, here we are today with the discriminatory social systems of oppression and inequality for gay and lesbian people crumbling on every front.  DADT (Don’t Ask.  Don’t Tell) has been repealed.  DOMA (the federal defense of marriage act) is a constitutional mess and even the old Presbyterian Church finally had to let go of its homophobia with the removal of its own discriminatory and oppressive language that was used to exclude gay and lesbian people from Christ and Christ’s Church.

How and why did all this change?  It’s because the world saw two different views of Life Style.  One was a sham.  The other was authentic.  There is nothing in and of itself that is holy about heterosexual marriage.  What makes a marriage “holy” is how the man and woman love, respect, and care for one another.  It’s the quality of love and care that makes a marriage holy, not the institution itself.  The whole world saw that, as Lesbian and Gay couples clamored for the privilege of being married to the one they deeply love.

The one thing that drew and still draws almost all people to follow “the way of the Risen Christ” is the Life Style of the community of believers.  The followers of Jesus after his death and resurrection didn’t “win anybody over” by deceit or trickery or being fake.  They opened people to the power and presence of the Risen Christ by their Life Style.  Here’s what the writer of Acts tells us:

Acts 2:42-47

Now, the followers of the Risen Christ devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to community life, to the breaking of bread and to praying.  And Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.  All who believed were together and had all things in common; they sold their possessions and goods and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people.  And day by day, God added to their number those who were being saved.

How does our Life Style represent the Risen Christ?  Is the Gospel (the good news of Christ’s redeeming love) honestly revealed in our Life Style?  One of my favorite quotes, which I know is a bit brash for a preacher, is from St. Francis of Assisi.  It is the final word for me about the importance of “Life Style:”

“At all times preach the gospel; and when necessary use words.”

Resurrection Blessings,

Dan