I was asked this weekend why I felt I needed to be an advocate for the homosexual community. Why me? I am not a lesbian after all. I have no close gay relatives. Why do I feel like I need to be the one who speaks out about worship equality (Yes, I made that up and remember you heard it here first) and marriage equality.
[Since I just made up a term I suppose I should define it for you. Here we go. Worship equality is the radical notion that God created us equal, that we each bear in us the image of God, and that we can and should all (regardless of gender or orientation) be welcomed to worship him with all our heart, soul mind and strength and that we should be encouraged to love people (our neighbors), all people as we love ourselves. This encompasses the radical notion that women are people and are equal in every way to men (notice equal DOES NOT SAY the same in every way, I am not the same as my husband just as I am not the same as any woman) and also that our LGBT brothers and sisters are equal to their straight counterparts in the eyes of God and therefore in our own.]
My friend also asked me what exactly it is that I am advocating and how I could be for marriage equality both in the public sector and as a Christian when (as he said) the Bible clearly calls all gay sex sin. My answer is simple. Politically, I am for marriage equality because anything else violates the equal protection clause. As an American and as a Christian I believe in an individual’s freedom and therefore I will not support legislation against marriage equality (indeed I will advocate for it to be overturned). Also, when people want to make laws against something purely because they believe it is biblical or Christian I always ask, who’s version of the Bible shall we base the laws on? May I wear pants? May I drink alcohol? May I dance? May I eat shell fish? Of course the answer is really always (when you get down to brass tacks) the version of Christianity that person espouses (things really get sticky if you ask if people of other faith traditions, should they become the majority, start making Christians follow Sharia?). This is America. We are not truly free, unless we are all free. I would like to humbly suggest we remember that our forefathers and mothers wanted religious freedom. They did NOT want the government to tell them which religion to practice or how to practice it. You are free to believe what you will. You are just not free to force others to live by your convictions (incidentally this means they also are not free to force you to practice theirs.
As far as the Christian side goes. My answer is also simple. I believe that all the “so called” clobber passages (if they are even talking about homosexual relations) can be categorized in one of three ways or a combination thereof: idol worship, prostitution and/or pedophilia. I have already done extensive writing on all of these passages in my Homosexuality & God series from last year. I hope you will take a few minutes out to read these as it may, at the minimum, give you some food for thought. (I have come back and put this in bold because I have people asking my scriptural basis for my statements and I realized they were missing this link as they read. I hope this helps.)
Now my friend is like many Christians I know personally. He falls into the camp that says we should always love everyone God puts into our lives as completely as possible as God has equipped us gay or straight. He knows many LGBT people both privately and professionally and he treats them all with dignity and respect. He does however believe (at least currently) that the act of homosexual sex, no matter the context, is always sin. He also understands that he and I differ on this point. What he doesn’t get is why I feel the need to be an advocate. He wonders what it is that makes me write these posts and to have conversations in which I try to persuade people to my perspective. I will tell you what I told him. What if there were no advocates? Nothing would change. Without William Wilberforce or someone like him there would still be slave ships sailing legally, families being split apart and human beings who bear the very image of God being sold at auction to the highest bidder. LEGALLY. Without advocates, from outside an oppressed group it is much easier for the status quo to roll on decade after decade and century after century. Why do I advocate? How can I not? How can I be silent? Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” Throughout history everyday people have stood up and cried out,
“THIS MUST STOP!”
William Wilberforce, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Harvey Milk, Oscar Schindler: You can still hear them if you listen closely. Their voices can still be heard in every human heart that cries out for freedom and justice. Bob Dylan has an amazing song called What Good Am I in which he says, “If I shut myself off, so I can’t hear you cry…What good Am I?” What good Am I indeed? How can it be love if I stand silent when I could have spoken?
So today again I raise my voice and join their sad and beautiful and victorious song. Their song that still plays on
So today I say to gender inequality, “THIS MUST STOP!”
I say to marriage inequality, “THIS MUST STOP!”
I say to bullying, “THIS MUST STOP!”
I say to use of words like, “fag”, “retard” and “slut” to insult people and dehumanize them, “THIS MUST STOP!”
I say to female genital mutilation, “THIS MUST STOP!”
I say to the killing of babies just for being female, “THIS MUST STOP!”
I say to rape culture, “THIS MUST STOP!”
I say to human trafficking, “THIS MUST STOP!”
Why do I speak, because silence is deadly.
Margaret Cho said in her poignant response to Michelle Shocked’s tirade, “…the effect of someone saying “God hates fags” can never be underestimated either. It’s a license to kill. It’s a death sentence, It’s not funny. It’s not OK…there is this idea that it is OK to kill us, that it doesn’t matter if we die.” You see, when people are dehumanized (women, LGBT or otherwise); when people believe that someone is hated by an “all loving God” then it becomes okay for them to be spat on, beaten, bullied and even killed.
I simply must not be silent. I cannot stop. I am not naïve. I know there is only so much I can do with my little soapbox. But it is WHAT I CAN DO. And so I do it. I stand with Jennifer Knapp when she said in her article today entitled, Acknowledging Faith Voices Crucial for LGBT Civil Rights,
“…now we recognize that silence is too easily confused with consent for injustice.”
And I will tell you this, when I receive a letter that says, I was rejected by my church and my parents I thought God rejected me too. I thought I was disqualified from having a relationship with God. I was told God hates me. Because of you, I now know that God does love me and that he still wants me; how can I stop?
This is what I was made to do. I don’t know what else to do on this day but stand on the side of love and tell you that God has gay children and he loves them. And to hatred and bigotry I say, “This MUST stop!”
“All right, then, I’ll go to hell” - Rachel Held Evans
Is abolition “biblical”? - Rachel Held Evans
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