May 16, 2011: How Then Shall We Love?

Posted on : May 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Still Speaking

It has been an eventful month. We saw some walls of discrimination come crumbling down this month, but we also saw some deep-seated prejudice rear its ugly face, and with dismay we saw a new door being closed.

It has been all over the news that this week in the Presbyterian Church the walls that kept our LGBT brothers and sisters from being ordained as clergy came crumbling down after 30 years. As Dan so poignantly pointed out in this week’s sermon reflection: 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.

The Presbyterians said yes this week to LGBT ordination, but same-gender marriage? That wall is still standing.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Just as we think the tide is turning, that the arc is bending towards justice, one of our friends does something that takes the winds out of our sails. Barely a week ago, with Mother’s Day, Sojourners refused to run an ad calling attention to an LGBT inclusion campaign.

In the words of Rev. Robert Chase, it can be argued that Mother’s Day is the most popular secular holiday in our churches. Attendance increases, special music is featured, pastors pay particular attention to crafting messages that affirm the place of motherhood in keeping families and communities faithfully knit together. So it seemed fitting that Believe out Loud, a trans-denominational effort to promote LGBT equality in mainline Protestant congregations, focused on Mother’s Day to launch its new campaign to invite one million believers to “sign up” for full LGBT equality in our churches and society-at-large.

A centerpiece of this effort is a new video, Believe out Loud: A Million Christians for LGBT Equality (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0buh-1quVs&feature=feedu) with particular focus on Mother’s Day. The video features that fateful, frightful walk down the church’s center aisle by a visiting family. How many of us can remember such a walk? This family unit, however, happens to include a young boy with two moms. After inhospitable stares and gestures from pew-sitters, the family is welcomed by the pastor. The video is a sweetly stated reminder that all should be welcomed in our churches. Its target audience is clergy and lay leaders who silently believe in LGBT equality but have yet to take steps to express this welcome publicly. Hence, the campaign calls on church leaders to “Believe Out Loud.”

That Sojourners would not run the ad, was a particular low blow – Sojourners, who work fervently for economic, social, and racial justice.

Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice (Desmond Tutu).

As I said it was an eventful month. Just a week or so before Mother’s Day a video clip went viral on YouTube with a transgender girl being physically assaulted for using the ladies restroom at McDonalds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAfsR58ocXY&feature=related). I’m not sure what is more shocking: the hateful menace of the attack, the employee laughing and videotaping the attack, or the other employees laughing in the background – all standing by as the girl is being attacked.

But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For Christ is our peace; who made both groups into one and broke down the dividing wall between us, that is, the hostility that kept us apart. In his own flesh He abolished the law, with its commandments and ordinances, in order to create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus establishing peace and reconciling us all to God in one body through the cross, which put to death the enmity between us (Ephesians 2:13-16).

It has been more than 2000 years since he has walked on this earth and still we just don’t get it: Jesus came to break down the walls that divide us

– to tear down the “we and them” mentality

– to bring peace in place of hostility.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. We sure are slow learners.

It has been an eventful month, many more things happened, but these are the three that stood out for me,

Kobie