Saturday, August 18, 2012

Holy Crap (And I Mean It!)

No sooner had I posted about the historic gains made by Florida's LGBT community on election night, I saw the headlines coming out of Jacksonville. The city council there had voted 10-9 against a proposal to add "sexual orientation" to the human rights ordinance. Mind you, this was a compromise measure built on the backs of the transgender community. The original proposal had asked to add "sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression" as the new set of protected classes. Put the pro-trans language in, and the measure was defeated on a 17-2 vote.

Probably the worst part in this story is that the compromise measure would have passed had one member of the city council, Johnny Gaffney, not switched his vote.  Gaffney had been a supporter of extending civil rights protections to the lesbian and gay community all throughout the three-month hearing and workshop process.  But then the councilman said his constituents, who are largely in the downtown and sports complex areas, began to flood his office with phone calls, letters and emails against the proposal.  Under such pressure, the councilman caved.

The largest Baptist churches also launched a crusade against the measure.  They raised the complaint that the HRO would force people to compromise their moral beliefs and hire someone who is living a "sinful lifestyle."  Their members turned out in large numbers to protest in front of city hall, waving American flags and wearing big blue stickers that read, "Protect First Liberties."  And, of course, there were even those of the Millennial generation holding placards:  "Remember Chick-fil-A"

Yes, it is now the Alamo of fried chicken sandwiches.

The day after the vote, a friend on Facebook tagged me and others in a post that was meant to start a dialogue about the six "clobber" passages from Scripture used by homophobes to deny LGBT people their place in the kingdom of God.  He shared the video that has gone viral of Matthew Vines, a 21-year-old Kansas man who was raised a United Methodist and has spent the past two years studying those six passages in their historical and biblical context as well as the many other parts of Scripture that refute the claims that gay people are to be condemned.    The result of Vines' research was the video that my friend chose to share.  He asked that we all view it with an open heart and open mind.  What he got back was a stream of anger from some of the others who didn't appreciate being tagged for this kind of information.   There were people telling him to cease from sharing such videos with them, "if he wants to remain friends."  There were those who took time to watch, and still disagreed, arguing that the "sin" of gay people isn't that we're gay; it's that we choose to act on our gayness (as in "you have sex with each other.")   And it seems to be that it's the "how" we have sex that is now the cause for our eternal damnation.  Never mind that anything we can do, straights can do... well, maybe not better... but certainly the same, and many do.

Human sexuality, no matter where it falls on the Kinsey scale of attraction, is a gift from God.  Sexual contact between two willing people without coercion, trickery, violence or force, is also a gift of God.  It is a post-Christ warping of the view of God's human creation that has turned the body into a bad thing and one that we must suppress and separate from the glory of God.   How sad not to recognize that our bodies are the temple that holds the Christ within us!

I have not forgotten about the wonderful election night news in Florida, and the hopefulness that brings.  But these two events back-to-back are a reminder to me that there is still an undercurrent out there that is preparing to short circuit any gains the LGBT community might enjoy.  And they will do it in the name of Christ and claiming to know "God's way."

On "God's way," I believe it was the prophet Isaiah who said it best:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Our job isn't to make claims about knowing "God's way," unless we just want to be made a fool in the end.  Our job is to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.  And we can get that first part--that loving God part---of the great commandment right if we would really commit to the second part and truly love our neighbors as ourselves.  That means that those of us who are LGBT need to recommit ourselves to living in Love and resisting that urge to resort to attacks--verbal or physical--against those who seek to deny us our place in this kingdom of God.  The way we do that is by rooting ourselves into that source, that God source, which will give us the words and the impetus to act from a place of Love which did, does, and always will overcome anyone or anything that tries to stop it.

I think we are nearing a tipping point in this holy uprising in places such as Florida.  To those who would tell me and others like me that we have no place in this kingdom, no seat at the banquet table, I point you to a different part of Romans than that clobber passage in Chapter 1.  I ask you to look at these words from Romans:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
   we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,  nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing separates me from God. And there is a place for all of us at the table with plenty of elbow room. Rather than fight with me, join me in the building up of others.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your passage from Romans is perfect. It says it all. God is love and that is all there is to say about this.