I would never consider myself an ally. I do not have the strength to stand up like my stronger colleagues and march with our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers, especially in the complicated political time and place that I find myself.
I know “complicated political time and place” is nothing more than an excuse, but it is my excuse and I love it!
But in this month, as we remember Stonewall and give opportunity for those who society relegated to the shadows to stands in the beautiful light of day, I have a thought rolling around in my mind:
How can anyone looking at themselves in the mirror and see themselves as made in God’s imaged and then look at another human being and see them as an abomination somehow less than and not made in God’s image?
I will not go into the exegesis and theological discussion of homosexuality and sin – much, much smarter people than me have tackled that task already. I simply want to know how anyone can look at someone else and believe God did not make them in God’s image. I want to know how you can choose one thing you perceive as sinful and that one thing makes someone an abomination while God still loves you despite the host of sins that tarnish your soul.
I recently had coffee with a college friend and, like you always do, we started to reminisce and talk about who we were back when. She pointed out that, in college, my politics never lined up with my desire for compassion and love, and I often did feel the tension between my “conservative Christian politics” and my actual Christian values.
I never fully owned the title “conservative”, but I always found myself leaning toward Republicans. I started to believe the little racist things like “I want White Entertainment Television!” and “Affirmative Action is just as racist as the racism it’s trying to fix!” At the same time, I still believed in loving people and felt compassion for the marginalized and the outcast.
I think the first crack in my conservative politics came from Acts. I grew up with the knowledge that “socialism is evil and just ‘Communism-Lite’”, but readings Acts give you a very different view of communal living and resource sharing:
“44All the believers were united and shared everything. 45They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.”
My conservative beliefs came from people who held the Bible as the ultimate truth and yet praised the values of unfettered and unregulated capitalism that encouraged the abuse of workers so the wealthy could have more. Throughout the gospels Jesus gives special care and consideration to the poor and broken, yet the very people who claimed Christianity supported politics that harmed those same people Jesus took special care of.
As I dug deeper – and also started seminary – I found myself moving left (in American political terms). I found myself realizing my broader theology did not line up some of hotter single-issue position that I held. Relevant to this month, my position on homosexual ordination did not line up with the broader theologies of universal brokenness and everyone being made in the image of God.
(I hadn’t quite gotten to a point where I would see homosexuality as not sinful; it takes me time to change, like any good Presbyterian.)
It still, 8 years later, fascinates me how vitriolically and hatefully people started treating me. I would have still considered myself conservative (in black and white terms) at that point and yet I failed the “Good Christian” check of needing to see homosexuals as sinful and homosexuality as a choice.
And mind you, I hadn’t even touched the waters of non-binary gender or other sexualities. I had failed them – which, even typing it, seems asinine – and I needed to either fall in line or accept my relegation as a liberal heathen.
As I continued to study, to learn, and to grow, I kept moving left. I recently attributed this movement to the centerline moving right, but I have also walked left, I suppose. We have values in the United States that we claim as Christian that often exist outside the prevue of scriptures but more often exist in conflict to the words and ideals of Christ we have recorded in our scriptures.
Not the point, though. The larger point exists as this: as I have grown and learned, I have come to realized that God made every person – of every sexuality, gender, and race – in God’s own image, and every one of them has the capacity to minister and share God’s word. No one exist who does not reflect the image of God despite our own personal biases, bigotries, and discomforts.
I have not gotten to the point where I do enough to call myself an ally, I fail “Woke Checks” on a constant basis, I am certainly not liberal enough to be trendy or traditional enough to be orthodox, but I see you, I love you, and I want you to share God’s word in a way that I can’t.
And to my sisters and brothers who can see someone as anything other than a reflection of the creator: how? And how dare you?