A letter to General Synod 2016 from Jason.
In viewing the GS 2016 live stream, I was grieved that the RCA went the way of the country, having to either be left or right… one side is right, one side is wrong. I heard talk about not being of this world. In reality, it would have actually been counter-cultural and not of this world to work together in unity. Yet, the RCA chose the way of this world, one side is right, one side is wrong. We hoped for, at the very least some compromise, we received nothing resembling compromise.
I was saddened to hear a belief that Jesus called for separation, and maybe we should just separate, run away from one another. Yes, Jesus did not call for uniformity, but he did call for unity within our diversity. A way forward in compromise would have, again at the very least, allowed the RCA to live into this simple truth of Jesus’ teaching of unity without uniformity.
I was also saddened to hear the belief that this is a mostly modern and American issue, and we shouldn’t give into such whims here today and gone the next. The fact is that the LGBTQ population spans the globe, and it has become a modern issue out in the open because finally the community is gaining (albeit small and sadly incremental) recognition as real human beings, as people to be respected for who they. For centuries LGBTQ had to hide and pretend to be someone different in the public arena in fear of oppression, imprisonment, or worse. For years they were human beings oppressed in dehumanization and nasty insults. It is only within the last handful of years that humanity has started coming to its senses, although in very small steps. This is not just American, and it is not a flavor-of-the-month issue.
I was disappointed that, except for one beautifully written 1-minute plea, the multiple dysfunctional heterosexual relationships in the Bible were not discussed. Nor was it discussed in detail how flawed heterosexual marriage is in our country. The RCA acted by disregarding nuance, an unfortunate practice in the complex and challenging world of human relationship.
Lastly, when it comes to heterosexual Christians speaking about homosexuality, I’ve always been disheartened and infuriated by the preface, “I’m a sinner too…” which implies (in an always unhelpful and sometimes condescending way) that we can be in solidarity with our homosexual brothers and sisters in our communal sinfulness. I appreciate the acknowledgment that we all sin, but in reality that preface is just surface fluff that does not understand nor get to the heart of gender and the complexities of the anthropology of sexual orientation. The biggest and most unrelenting and infuriating difference here is that heterosexuals are never called or call themselves sinners because of their from-birth heterosexual-ness, yet, undoubtedly, I know exactly what a person is about to say when they use the preface, “I’m a sinner too, but…” They’re about to say that being homosexual is a sin, but we heterosexuals should still love them despite their sin, and we should be in solidarity in our overall sin, as long as we make sure we say that their sin is because of their sexual orientation. Give me a break.
LGBTQ folks in our church historically are called sinners based on who they’ve been from birth, so, we heterosexuals get to be the lucky ones. We get away scot-free. We were fortunate enough to be born on the right side of history, lucky enough to be born in God’s light instead of in darkness. We were able to grow up without confusing, aggravating and making those around us afraid because of our sexuality (please understand the sarcastic tone here)! I never have to worry about someone calling me a sinner because of my God-given, from-birth sexuality… good for me? Why isn’t this universal? Why do folks in the LGBTQ community have to worry about this? Why do heterosexuals get a pass where the LGBTQ population does not?
People are born a certain way and should not be called sinners for that. Period!
What we do after birth in all our communal fallenness is another story for humanity, and this sin we know we all have because of the fall is not the issue here. The question is, I don’t know how you can love someone while simultaneously calling them a sinner because of their sexual orientation?
Why must we always paint things in such a concrete way? Black/White, Male/Female, Straight/Gay…? Because in all honesty, we don’t really understand these things like we think we do. We are human, we are fallible, and we know very little. In the same vein, to proclaim that we truly understand what God is really saying in these particular Scriptures and to always point to Scripture literally to prove some sort of point, whatever side we’re on, is a slippery slope. This slope slides us away from acknowledging that we really only know the beginning couple percentages of God’s vast wisdom. We can’t fathom the fullness or wholeness that God has in mind for creation, nor can we fully fathom what God truly wants from us. Don’t we owe it to God to give God credit that God has made all of us so unique and complex, and so beautifully that we can only begin to understand the master-work of an unmatched designer? Aren’t we, God’s individual creatures, created by God the master-artist of all that is good, so unique and complex that we can barely understand who we are because God as creator is so complex and magnificent? It’s time to delight in our fellow living beings, to wonder about them, where they have come from and how they have worked toward wholeness, and persevere with them. We can’t do this if we believe they are sinful right from birth because of who they’ve been created to love. If I, a heterosexual white male, am not going to be punished for my from-birth sexuality, then my LGBTQ sisters and brothers should not be punished for it either. I can’t believe I have to say that, but it’s where we are. The time should end where we look into our Bibles and try to prove things we don’t fully understand using short passages coming out of vastly diverse contexts that are so different from our own. The Bible is living and active, and the Holy Spirit breathes diversity into the countless contexts it touches. Isn’t it time instead to lift up the Bible as a whole, and not just parts, and say this great book, given by God our covenant partner, has overarching main truths that we have to live by in order to work toward God’s original garden paradigm? God wants us back, and we keep trying our hardest not to give into that.