End “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in the PCUSA, too
As I watched the historic steps taken last week toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – the policy that bans GLBT people from serving openly in our country’s military – I was reminded of the Presbyterian Church’s policies concerning those called to serve the church.
Successful service in the military and the Presbyterian Church both rest upon the fulfilling of duties that need to be done. In the military, each person must know how to do the job given to them and do it when the order comes. My church lives by the same principle. While we don’t have the command structure found in the military, orders, if there are any, come from a group like the session discussing a situation at length to reach a decision.
The fact is that success in the church comes in the same way it does in the military: through each person knowing and doing the job that fits with his or her gifts and inspiration. From the Sunday school teacher to the Moderator of the General Assembly, Presbyterians are called to an office and their service builds up the Body of Christ.
Rules against gifted GLBT people serving have cost both institutions dearly. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has cost our country the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who would put their lives on the line to help defend us, but have been turned away because they are GLBT. Likewise, through ordination standards that exclude GLBT Presbyterians who are honest about who they are, the church has lost wonderful gifts for service in the church. And in both cases, we ignore powerful callings – to serve our country and to serve God.
The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the military, when it comes, will be the answer to the prayers of many, and the product of intense, persistent work on the part of thousands of patriotic Americans. I pray that the church may take inspiration from these developments to welcome all who are called to leadership in its own ranks.
When ordination for our GLBT members comes in the PCUSA, it will also be the result of unstinting, faithful effort on the part of thousands of stalwart Presbyterians. We stand on the ancient Truth that the church is “a holy priesthood (I Peter 2:5)” — a priesthood of all believers in which God calls some of us, including GLBT faithful, to ordained office.
There is still more to be done to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the military and I hope you who are reading this will find your way to help. And there is still time for the Presbyterian Church to catch up and even go ahead. The 219th General Assembly in July has a host of overtures on ordination to consider. Check out More Light Presbyterians, That All May Freely Serve and Covenant Network for ways you can join in the work to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the PCUSA, too. Now.