Welcome! For those of you who are stopping by for the first time, feel free to check out my about pages here and here. And just so you know, today’s post is brought to you by the letter Q and the word respect. OK? Good. Truly, welcome.
A few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I would consider taking part in a synchroblog with the topic being “How can we embody mutual honour and respect in our conversations and relationships with those with whom we may disagree on the topic of homosexuality?” Its being organized by http://btgproject.blogspot.com and an organization called New Direction, apparently an organization that used to be known as “one of those Christian organizations that gay, lesbian and transgendered people loved to hate.” (their words, not mine)
Now, I did not do much digging trying to find who this group was, or what they were about, I just said yes. And the reason why I said yes, is in part the same ethos that I bring to the question that is before me, before you, now. I said yes, because that is who I am. And to get at the heart of who I am, I guess you would have to look at a few of my Makers: my dad and my G-d.
My father is a hippy, through and though. His outlook on life in general could be summed up in the mantra of his hippy generation–peace, love and happiness. He is a seeker of meaning, and believes that all life has value. For me this meant I grew up knowing that I was pure possibility. He used to tell me over and over and over how much he believed in me, even and especially when I did not believe in myself. He thought that his girls–my sister and me–were unlimited potential bursting with opportunity and hope for the generation to come. Do you know what that does for a little girl? Well, I will tell you. It saves her life. Literally and metaphorically.
When I was 11, my neighbor invited me to church. I had not ever been to one, and well, I loved my neighbor (can you say Gospel foreshadowing anyone)–she and I always had fun together, so “of course I will go to church with you” friend. “Yes, I will.” That was the beginning of my walk with G-d.
One of the first things I learned, was the same thing that most kids learn in Sunday school–G-d loves me. Yes–Jesus loves me, yeeessss Jesus loves me. (No one told me about the Holy Ghost right away, and I suppose rightfully; that Holy Ghost is a frightening character if you are not ready.) So it goes then that the first impression, like most first impressions, was a lasting one when it came to my understanding of G-d. LOVE.
So, how can we embody mutual honour and respect in our conversations and relationships with those with whom we may disagree on the topic of homosexuality? Here is how I go about it. (And I do go about it. The preface to the bulletpoints below would be that you have to be willing, to want to engage, to have a posture and mind that believes that Jesus, the Gospel truly CALLS us to be in relationship with the other. We are mandated engage the stranger (the one who is strange, the one whom you do not yet know, one from who you are astranged), and to love and not judge them. I look to these destabilizing words from Jesus (from Luke 6) when I want to shy away.)
- I am loved: I actually buy that whole “I am loved” thing, to use a fishing metaphor (Jesus was a fan of fishing you know) hook, line and sinker. And there are a lot of reasons that I could build a good solid arguement against why I should not be loved. I am sinful, I am jealous, I have been known to gossip, I have coveted, and I have taken the Lord’s name in vain. I have worn mixed fabrics (I am wearing them right now), I have most likely broken all of the commandments and then some in my short life so far. I am not proud. I know that I am Sinful with a capitol S. And–I know that I am loved. Wildly, gracouisly, when it doesn’t make any earthly or heavenly sense–I am wholly loved by G-d. And if I am/can be loved, for all of my sh#$!@, then it only makes sense that those that are not like me, those who do not think like me, vote like me, smell like me, are loved also. I need to do my best to see, hear, and engage them as G-d might. The prayer from Psalm 19:14 comes to mind “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Amen?
- I say yes: My first instinct is saying yes–to most things–before I say no. Yes, this has gotten me in trouble sometimes. Yes, it has hurt me, deeply. Yes, it has taken me down some roads I would never have chosen for myself or would not choose again. But, for me, I have found when I open myself, allow myself to be afraid, it is in those places that G-d smashes though my expectations and imagination. I DO believe that G-d is at work, in me, in you, in all. And for the record, ALL really does mean ALL. So I say yes.
- Engaging the Other: I believe that the heart of the Gospel is calling us all to engage, walk with, be in relationship with the other. And I believe that today our lepers, whores and tax collectors–are queer people. For me, my post from this past Ash Wednesday perhaps gets at it the most clearly as it relates to GLBTQI folks. Please, read it. We are to feed and be fed. We are called to be about bringing the Kingdom of G-d on earth, as it is in heaven. I believe by doing these things–the FIRST things, the Great Commandment things–the rest will work itself out.
Is this stuff hard. Yes. Is it worth it. Yes. Can we do it? Yes, we can.
G-d of our whole lives, protector of our hearts, wild lover of this–your broken people–thank you. For the fruits of the Spirit that are so clearly shown to us when You are at work, and for your most precious gift, love. Help us to not totally blow it, as we are so ding dang dong good at doing. For your love sake, Amen.