Saturday, March 17, 2007
A shout of support goes out to Ann who spearheaded a movement called Rainbow Presence to champion inclusiveness in the Episcopal church. She suggested that Episcopalians who support the rights of GLBT people wear rainbow insignia to church on Easter Sunday.
Some may object to politicizing such a holy day but I believe her intention was simply to raise visibility and awareness, not to disrupt worship or rattle anyone's cage.
Yes, in this day and age of polarized camps it may be naïve to assume that making oneself more visible won't be seen as a political challenge by those hunkered down on the opposite side of a hot-button issue - That damn Rosa Parks, how dare she challenge our beliefs by sitting in the front of the bus making herself more visible!
I've just finished reading a couple of the conservative Episcopalian responses that Ann linked to on her site and I feel like I've been run over by a bus.
I always feel that way after wading through scripture quoting diatribes dripping in judgment, fear, hate, and division. I feel dirty, stained, and attacked as if I've been pummeled by a thousand bat wielding teenagers after daring to wander onto their turf.
Is that they way we're supposed to feel after sharing the "good news" with each other?
I don't think so.
In the United Church of Christ we have an open communion table where all are welcome, no questions asked. So it shocked me to read comments from Episcopal clergy stating that they would refuse to serve communion to anyone wearing a rainbow insignia on Easter Sunday, gay or straight, just as they would refuse to serve any non-repentant gay person during any other Sunday. When other posters called them on this obvious singling out of sinners, they responded by claiming they also refuse to serve communion to non-repentant adulterers and divorcees. WHAT???????????
As Christians we're supposed to confess all our sins and ask for forgiveness before we're deemed worthy of sharing in the body and blood of Christ. Fair enough.
But IMHO exactly what constitutes a sin is open to debate.
I can hear it now "THE BIBLE SAYS blah blah blah" - the Bible says nothing out of context and we can argue until the cows come home over the intended meaning of particular passages, words, syllables, etc.
What the bible does say is "judge not lest ye be judged"; "let he who is without sin cast the first stone"; "what you have done to the least among you, you have done to me."
Therefore, for any true believing Christian the greater sin is committed when one of God's children is rejected from His place of worship, or denied service at His table because WE, the sinful and imperfect humans, have judged another sinful and imperfect human to be unworthy of praising God, worshiping God, and sharing in His love.
Shame, Shame, Shame.
I'm sending strength, hugs, and prayers to all of you in the EC. It's hard enough to watch a church being torn apart by conflict, but it's even more frustratingly painful to watch people turn on each other over an issue that should be a no-brainer.
Race, gender, sexual orientation - None of these is a choice, God made these differences, and no human being should be excluded from fulfilling God's call because the church (i.e. human beings) has decided that male is better than female, heterosexual is better than homo-bi-trans-sexual, etc.
We in the UCC may be more open to accepting difference but we're still figuring out how to express this openness without stepping on too many toes. My home church had a congregational meeting not too long ago where we voted on whether we should allow civil union ceremonies in our sanctuary. While most voted Yes, a few had objections and a lengthy discussion ensued.
I just sat there shaking in fear and confusion. These are people I know and love. These are people whom I laugh, worhsip, and work with every week. Yet there we were debating whether people like me should have the right to use our sanctuary in the same manner as straight couples have for almost two hundred years.
I couldn’t help but think "How dare they?!"
How dare they debate whether I should have the same rights and privileges that they have. How dare they think that my happiness, my rights as a human being, my God-given existence is something that can be put to a "yes" or "no" vote?
That IS what they were doing - Voting on my right to exist as a full human being.
It's not about marriage rights, the right to be ordained, the right be church members, the right to health insurance, the right to serve in the armed forces, the right to have parades, books, television shows, movies, and "gay day" at Disney World.
Every time a right to anything is voted on it's sending a clear message "You are less than us - We have the power and we will determine whether you are deserving of sharing in it, one slice at a time."
My problem is I'm impatient. I'm the annoying kid in the back seat whining "Are we there yet???" I can see where this road finishes up and I just want us to get there already. We traveled this same road with civil rights and women's rights in the 50's, 60's and 70's.
One day we'll reach the tipping point and society will slap itself on the collective forehead and say "Duh!" Of course whites are not superior to blacks, and men are not superior to women, and someday we'll look back at this time period and say "how could we have been so close minded! - of course heterosexuals are not superior to GLBTs."
But just as we've done in the past, we have to run through this maze. We have to allow those who object to have their say. We have to push for the passage of laws and continue to educate the public. We have to assuage the hurt feelings of those who feel the granting of rights to others takes something away from them. We have to play nice with those who don't react well to change. We have to sneak under the radar of those who smell difference and lash out in anger and fear. We have to play the game. We can't just pick a Chance card and advance to Go! and collect our $200. We have to roll the dice and move around the board and risk paying through the nose when we land on someone else's property.
Jesus had this same problem. He had a message of love and inclusion and he kept getting head butted by people who knew only fear and exclusion. He brought a new and amazing way of looking at the world and he was dragged down by those who fought tooth and nail to protect the old ways. Like us, I'll bet he wished that he had a Universal Remote - just hit the fast forward button and zoom past all the human drama to get to the good part, the part where we actually get what he is trying to say and stop pushing and shoving trying to keep our place in the God line.
But the human drama is what makes us us. It's what makes us grow; it's what makes us strong. So play the game we must. There are no short cuts. The people who own Park Place complete with a string of red plastic Hotels may appear to be winning but the more property we buy and the more little green houses we build the less they'll be able to ignore our presence….and the more likely they'll be to land on our property and realize that it's not such a bad place to be after all.