Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Violent Consequence of LGBT Discrimination in Christianity

Sometimes there are storms, but typically the tide works in slow steady measures. It comes in and out again and again as though measuring the breathing of the ocean. Our lives move in a similar fashion; we advance, we fall back, over and over, usually in small graduated and even calculated measures. History too reflects this rhythm of the universe, back and forth, round and round. This summer has provided examples of this in the efforts for our LGBT friends and family to fully exercise their God given rights as human beings.

This summer has seen The Episcopal Church ordain an openly lesbian to bishop. The Lutherans have made way for LGBT’s to be ordained and have recognized and accepted as priests LGBT Lutherans who were ordained outside their jurisdiction . The Anglican Communion, have decided for now, to allow The Episcopal Church to remain, even with gay and lesbian bishops. We have also seen California’s Proposition Eight overturned. The tide has worked its way back in, fresh full of water and abundance.

Out goes the tide as the Anglican Communion refuses to take a firm stand against violence against gays in Africa and the African bishops who promote bigotry and turn a blind eye to this violence in their provinces. The Church of England still refuses to consider a gay Dean for bishop. Here in Georgia political ads are currently being aired denouncing the idea that homosexuals have the same rights as hetero citizens…where in the Liberty Documents did the Founders state that our God given inalienable rights are only for “heterosexual men created equal”?

The legal arguments for denying LGBT’s exercise of rights they already possess are too absurd to argue here and now. We are all of the Creator, designed to live fully in the nature in which we are created, to do otherwise would be to live in an un-natural state, and would be to deny the discretion of the Creator. The scriptural arguments against full inclusion for LGBT’s in the church are simply opinion. These arguments are nothing more than a dog chasing its tail. For every person who quotes Romans 1, I can quote Romans 2 (you will never hear an anti-gay someone quoting Romans 1 also quoting Romans 2). I can remind people that Paul even referred to his writing on human sexuality as “opinion”. I can remind people that Paul wrote that in Christ there is no gender and that in Christ we are all one, which means we are therefore equal. There is no mention of homosexuality in The Ten Commandments or in The Gospel. But at this point, I’m not concerned about arguing opinion over scripture and human sexuality.

The greater concern is the consequences of these arguments denying the LGBT community, our community in Christ, their rights of full inclusion within Christianity. To violate the rights of our LGBT community is to act in violence towards them and ourselves, spiritually, emotionally, legally and vocationally. For Christianity to promote any form of violence upon our LGBT brothers and sisters is to promote all forms of violence, even physical violence and murder. Over the past ten years violence against the gay population has been on the increase. I have yet to see evidence of agnostic or atheists committing these crimes. These crimes are being committed by religious people, by Christians.

These violent Christians, these modern deluded Inquisitors, are gaining inspiration and taking comfort in words from someone. These shadow Christians are finding motivation and encouragement from someone. These contorted Christians are taking the voices of condemnation against our LGBT brothers and sisters as a blessing upon their works. Whether or not the intention of clergy who condemn the LGBT community is simply to run them out, or worse, doesn’t matter. All that matters are the end results, violence and bloodshed. Any clergy who promotes LGBT discrimination, or remains mute ultimately bears responsibility for the violence which ensues. Like Saul at the stoning of Steven, these clergy have blood on their hands. Saul didn’t throw one stone, but the stone of his heart did nothing to stop the violence. We don’t need to throw stones for ourselves to bear the stain of violence. All we need do is quietly stand mute and still in its presence.

Yet Saul was converted and transformed into the Paul who declared us all, every one of us, as One in Christ. So too are we Christians to be transformed in Christ, to declare and live as One in Christ. We are to love one another as Christ loves us. We are to live in the grace of God’s free love to us and to likewise freely love one another. Am I Saul or Paul? Our transformation, my transformation, is as ever present as is God’s love for us. Like God’s love for us which never ends, so too our being transformed by God’s love never ends. Our transformation through God’s love has no place in it for any discrimination or any form of violence towards our LGBT brothers and sisters. We are blessed by the transformative inspiration of our LGBT brothers and sisters, who refuse to abandon us, who in the face of violence against them bear witness to God’s love in their peaceful persistence, and in their determination to faithfully love in the face of those who despise them.

We bear the responsibility of loving and make ourselves accountable by our loving. We should be searching scripture for our reasons to love one another, not for reasons to with-hold our love. What matters is the loving ethic of Jesus and the Good News, as loving God and each other, to judge not and love one another as Jesus love us. We as disciples, as God’s children, have no choice but to love. To love is to believe. To love is to repent. To love is to forgive. To love is to be forgiven. To love is to be righteous. To love is to make us all blessed. This is the conversion point of our transformation.