Why We Persist
I was talking recently with a colleague of mine in the Presbyterian Church who voted against 08-B, the amendment that would have opened our church to the possibility of ordaining gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members.
Although his view prevailed — in the end, the overture was defeated — he was glum because he expects similar overtures to return at the 2010 General Assembly (GA). And indeed, the Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan has already asked the Detroit Presbytery for approval to send just such an overture on to the GA.
My brother in Christ wanted to know why we continue to petition the church on this point. I’m sure many people ask this same question. It is difficult to articulate why we persist because the reasons are so deeply embedded in my faith in the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But I will try.
First, God, called Father by Jesus, does not make junk. It really is as simple as that. Faithful GLBT Presbyterians pray the words of Psalm 139:
“For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
And we claim as our own Paul’s words to the Romans 8:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Since all GLBT people are made and loved by God, we, too, must show them love and respect. And that includes the same opportunity to follow God’s call to serve Him.
Second, Jesus inspires us to keep trying. Over and over again, Jesus places himself with the outcast and the downtrodden. He repeats many times that the first shall be last and the last first.
Particularly the gospel of Luke carries this message, as in The Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8). There Jesus tells of the judge who finally gives a judgment in favor of the persistent widow and comments on how much more God will answer the prayers of “his chosen ones who cry to him day and night.”
God has given great spiritual gifts for service to GLBT Christians but the present rules in the PCUSA block that possibility. In accord with Jesus’ encouragement to help the outcast and the downtrodden chosen by God, we persist in speaking out on behalf of the GLBT faithful.
Finally, the moving of the Holy Spirit requires us to recognize the good in others. As we all know, the Holy Spirit blows where it will. And we have seen this in action when highly talented and obviously faithful GLBT Presbyterians add to the vibrant life of our congregations. The fruits of the Holy Spirit in these folk’s lives are there for all to see: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.”
The Holy Spirit clearly transcends the present standards of the PCUSA in inspiring GLBT people to seek ordained office and distributing blessings upon all people.
So we will persist until the church catches up with what God is doing now.