What is the Meaning of July 10th? – God’s Love is Ascendant Alleluia!


Share with me and Isaiah, God’s exclamation:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
(Isaiah 43:18-19)

I’ve heard Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr, a caring and deeply faithful minister in my church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), say many times that what she wanted for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians was the same voice and vote in the church as everyone else. After all, she says, they are created and loved by God just like everyone else. On Sunday, July 10th, this begins.

You see, this Sunday, a change to the ordination requirements in the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will go into effect that will allow for the ordination of faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members who live openly and honestly about how God made them.

The whole point of the revised ordination requirements is this: Love.

God’s love is not a new thing, of course. When asked what God’s greatest commandment for us was, Jesus replied: Love. Love is Jesus’ Truth about God that He lifted up, emphasized, and established through His words and actions in the world, including His death on the cross. From God’s creation in Genesis — where all was deemed good — to the triumph of Christ in Revelation that gave hope to the violently oppressed Christians in the Roman Empire at that time, God’s love streams through Scripture and our experience.

God’s love, however, is not always ascendant in the church or in human experience. Scripture also teems with tribal violence, judgment and punishment — again Revelation is a good example. In fact this dynamic of destruction sent Jesus to His death even as Jesus’ resurrection stands as the ultimate promise that God’s love will prevail.

Only a few centuries after Jesus, the church made judgment and punishment more important than love. This continued through the violence of the Crusades and the wars of the Reformation to the apotheosis of Christian domination, violence and destruction in the 20th century with its world wars and genocides.

However, from the beginning, and especially in the last century, many groups have carried the torch of God’s love for all. I think of the colonial revolutionaries, the abolitionists, the suffragettes and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I know you can think of others.

Right now, I am grateful for the faithful, courageous lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians who, through trials and adversity, have picked up the torch of God’s love for all. They are leading the way in helping us all understand God’s love in a new way.

Perhaps you see with me that this step in the PCUSA joins all kinds of other indications that the church and the world are on the brink of a new era in which — alleluia! — God’s love for all is ascendant.

Two millennia of lifting up fear rather than love have been enough. On July 10, 2011, I plan to recommit myself to ensuring that the 21st century is known for marking God’s love. May God’s loving embrace be so established that the church of the third millennium after Christ writes in the Book of Life Jesus’ message of His love for all.

That’s what July 10th means to me. What does it mean to you?


Reverend Janet Edwards

4 Responses
  • Donna on July 9, 2011

    July 10 means to me, Janet, that GLBT candidates for ordination can move forward in the paths that God has called them to walk, and to be able to live and preach from a foundation of integrity.

  • Janet Edwards on July 9, 2011

    Dear Donna,

    Thanks so much, Donna, for adding your thoughts.

    I, too, see integrity as a central theme in this shift in the church starting July 10. I share your observation about individual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians who can now integrate their sexuality and their spirituality so that they serve with a wholeness the church hindered before.

    In addition, the church’s Gospel message of God’s love made manifest in Jesus Christ will have a renewed integrity. When we teach our children, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” there will be no qualification attached to it for anybody. The integrity of every Presbyterian preacher will be restored, as I see it.

    Stay well. Peace, Janet

  • Douglas Hancock on July 13, 2011

    7/10/11 means PCUSA redefined sin, dressed it up in a robe and stood it up in the pulpit. All your academic pseudo-intelligista arguments refuting the clarity of Scripture and the guidance of God in Genesis, Leviticus, Romans and Timothy will not turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse, nor sin into salvation. Homosexuality is sin that destroys lives and families. We should love the sinner and invite them into our presence in hopes of repentance and salvation according to the plan our Lord gave us on the cross, but we should not redefine sin, promote and endorse it. You may achieve a level of self-serving satisfaction and success in this world with your redefinition of homosexual sin but I suspect you’ll be immediately and forever saddened when the light of God exposes the dark falshood of your teachings.

    Homosexuals were indeed created by God, but through free will, have have chosen to indulge their sinful lifestyles in the same way alcoholic, pedophiles, drug abusers, thieves and adulterers (to name a few)indulge themselves rather than turn away from their sin no matter how difficult.

    I will continue to pray that PCUSA finds its way back to God concerning this issue before it leads its flock away from salvation.

  • Janet Edwards on July 14, 2011

    Dear Douglas,

    Thank you for your honesty about where you stand with regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. I have two comments for your prayerful consideration.

    First, Jesus says in both Luke 6:43-45 and Matthew 7:15-20 that the test of a good man (and woman, I assume) is that person’s fruit. I hope you will read some of the conversations I have on this site with great faithful lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians. You will know that they are good by their fruits.

    Second, my mother was an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a disease. There is no correspondence between being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and alcoholism. There was a time when people considered alcoholism to be a chosen lifestyle and a sin. We know better now.

    Many now have the eyes to see that being gay is a complex quality of some human beings formed as mysteriously as any aspect of human being. Most of us are clear that it is neither a disease nor a crime and for many (and everyday more) it is not a sin.

    I am glad you and I and many others are praying for the PCUSA. I am sure you and I agree that God’s will shall be done.

    Peace be with you, Janet

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