On Sunday evening my wife and I sat in the gallery of the Texas state capitol and witnessed the House pass the SB5 bill which would make it all the more difficult for women to have sovereign autonomy over their own bodies. One out of every four women have been or will be victims of sexual assault or rape at least once within their lifetimes. Violence against women is a societal norm. Yet, according to the bill, it does not matter if you were raped and it does not matter if you experience incest, the right to choose an abortion in Texas would be nearly done with. The bill itself is shameful and an insult to humanity. Texas, which has the highest uninsured population in the U.S. could once again cut off those of lower socioeconomic incomes and those in rural areas access to healthy and safe medical care perpetuating poverty, racism and sexism.
In the entire history of the United States, the Church as an institution has never spearheaded the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, or the LGBTQ movement. Individual pastors have been the exception, not the rule, in Christian intervention on social justice issues. The state however, (as in federal and state governments) was first in passing and enforcing abolition, women’s suffrage and now LGBTQ civil rights. The state, not the institutional church has been the first to institutionally acknowledge such marginalized persons as human beings worthy of dignity through new laws and amendments. The polity of our denomination has not reflected the open love of Christ with these historical movements, but rather a resistance to social change and inclusivity masked in a distorted ideology of church unity at the high moral expense of the marginalization of the other.
This week, the politics in our country which inevitably reflect the culture of our society and therefore our church will call us to action. The Supreme Courts rulings on DOMA, Proposition 8, and affirmative action will determine yet again this country’s affirmation or denial of individuals as human beings who deserve to have their civil rights protected. The sheer possibility that the state may grant LGBTQ folks equal human rights around the question of marriage before this denomination does so is shameful.
My question is not so much why this is the case, but what will it take for the members of the Presbyterian USA to recognize LGBTQ persons as human beings within our denominational polity and action? The impact of creating a space of love and acceptance for all is incredibly healing and would normalize and humanize those who have been pushed on the margins by not only society, but by the church as well. The kindom of God in Christ could have been brought yesterday by the Holy Spirit, it could be brought now. I find it sad that the Spirit’s freedom to move seems more evident outside of the Church than within our own walls and I wonder how much we truly loose when we keep shutting Her out.
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