Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebration Without Apology

When we get to 87 I am going to celebrate.

Let there be no doubt. I am happy that the PC(USA) is on the verge of changing its harmful, discriminatory, bad, mean, ignorant and abusive policy. I have been an advocate for change in this denomination since I first entered seminary 22 years ago joining a struggle--a battle--a fight--for equality and dignity that started long before I was conceived.

Oh yes, I am going to celebrate.

I am aware of the advice from other advocates for change that some of us should be less competitive or less obviously joyful about the change that is coming. We are reminded that there aren't winners and losers. We are all one in Jesus and so forth. We need to be gracious to those who are saddened about this change. We want to extend the arms of welcome to them. We shouldn't be like the "secular" world in terms of how it handles politics. We should be more Jesus like, I guess.

As if putting a Christian halo around our stench makes us smell nice. Life is struggle. It is no different within "the church" or without. The only difference is that within the church we pretend to be something we are not. That is called hypocrisy. "Let's be passive aggressive for Jesus."

This is a battle. This is a struggle. This is a fight. There are opposing sides. There are winners. There are losers.

Having been on the losing side for the past 22 years, I am happy to be on the winning side for a change. I am happy that our denomination won't officially suspect and condemn gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, and unmarried heterosexuals as being "sinners". It is long past time that the church got this right. And yes, there is a right and wrong.
  • It is wrong to exclude people based on prejudice.
  • It is wrong to deny people privileges and rights.
  • It is wrong to use spiritual violence against people.
  • It is wrong to use sacred texts as weapons.
  • It is wrong to lie about people.
These wrong behaviors have been used by the opposition consistently throughout this struggle. I know this is a fight when I talk to students on campus or hear the stories of people in our PFLAG group. I hear the stories of harassment and bullying, excommunication from faith communities, rejection from family members because of what has been preached in church.

Oh yes, this is a fight.

And it will not end when the PC(USA) reaches its 87th vote. There is no guarantee yet that we are even getting to 87 this year. The steepest part of the climb is yet to come. I am not worried about reconciliation with the opposition at least until we get there. In the meantime, let's get out the vote.

And pardon me if I don't shed a tear for those who
  • say the church is apostate,
  • threaten to leave,
  • threaten to form alternate synods,
  • threaten to withhold money,
  • threaten to take the church to court for property,
  • [insert behavior here],
because of this change that is coming.

Barbara Wheeler and John Wilkinson will shed tears for you. In the latest edition (April 18) of Presbyterian Outlook, the two have written an article entitled, "Please Don't Go."

In the cacophony of voices, we hope that those who are distressed by the change will hear a clear message from Presbyterians like us who helped to bring it about. The message is this: PLEASE DON'T GO. Don't separate from us, either by leaving the PC(USA) or by withdrawing into a cul-de-sac inside it. We want and need to share a denomination with you.
It is interesting that Barbara Wheeler in particular says of this change that she "helped bring it about". She was the one who advocated for No Action which is NO the last time we voted on equality.

Whatever. Unlike those authors I will not grovel or plead with those who are unhappy with equality. I will treat you like an adult. If you want to go, feel free. If you want to stay, feel free.

Do know this:
  • If you stay, I will not enable your prejudice by rearranging deck chairs so you can find some way to reap the benefits of affiliation with the denomination while at the same time seeking power to exclude.
  • If you stay and you continue to use spiritual violence against my people I will fight you at every turn.
  • If you stay, I will never for the sake of "unity" with you throw LGBTQ people under the bus.
For my LGBTQ friends and allies who are excited about the change that is coming:

A little spark of justice is on its way, my friends. You don't have to be one bit apologetic for celebrating its arrival.
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