For the next year, until General Synod 2017, I’ll be posting a letter a day to the General Synod of 2016 in a series called “We Are the RCA.” The hope is to also turn these letters into an artistic expression that can be displayed at General Synod next year. If you are an LGBTQ+ person or an ally who has been affected by the recent decisions, I invite you to submit a letter to me at email@example.com, along with a brief biography.
Today’s letter comes from Maggie:
Too often this year I have found myself saying “I do not understand”. It is not a particularly easy thing for me to say – I pride myself on being able to know things, on being able to research and understand. But I do not. I do not understand the direction our country is going. I do not understand the violence that seemingly engulfs not only our country, but the whole world. I do not understand why we continue to hem and haw while our planet is destroyed. But above all this, I do not understand the hate.
I’m an anthropologist. I’ve been taught to embrace the differences that create the vast cloth of humanity. It’s what we do – we observe, and see how we are different, and how we are the same. It’s a hard thing to do, to observe and not judge. To simply reflect on how others live their lives, and to not impose our own prejudices and thoughts on them. But there’s intense beauty in it also – to see how we are all the same, just people trying to understand life. Different isn’t good or bad, it’s just different.
I’ve been asked if my Christianity is a detriment to my anthropology. Too often, at least in anthropology, Christians are seen as those who come into a region and judge, forcing the current culture to morph into what is deemed more appropriate. I would argue that my Christianity makes me a better anthropologist. Jesus ordered us to love one another. And so I try. I try to understand cultures because my faith compels me to love them – and to love, I need to try to see how they see the world.
And that’s what I do not understand about the recent RCA decision. There are a lot of rules and laws in the Bible. 613 to be exact. Yet, when asked, Jesus said that there are two that we have to make sure to follow: love God, and love each other. The ones that were the most important were about love. So simple, and yet so incredibly challenging. It’s hard to love each other, I get that. But, and this is the thing that I think a lot of people forget, our faith is not supposed to be easy. It is not something we are supposed to take on lightly. We are supposed to grapple with it, because only through struggle do we become stronger. We say the words every Sunday: “love your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus literally spelled it out for us. We are called to love. And to love means you have to let yourself be challenged. You have to let go of any of the prejudices and walls that separate. There is no “us” and “them”. There is simply “us” – the children of God who are called to love.
The RCA took the easy way out. They decided to remain static, to not grow, not struggle, not become stronger. They decided to turn a blind eye to the very clear call that Jesus has laid out for us. They chose hate, instead of love. I cannot understand. And I will not accept it. I demand better for Christians, I demand better for my LBGTQ brothers and sisters, I demand better for humanity. We are all just trying to figure out life together, and the only way we get through it is with love. The RCA faltered in their calling this week. I choose what I can understand. I choose love.