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If you have read my blogs before, you can guess how I feel about the recent SCOTUS ruling on marriage. Elated!
I am one of millions of Americans this week celebrating by changing my Facebook profile picture to a rainbow. I even bought a t-shirt that reads, “Love Wins,” plastered over a map of America, as if my home team just won the Super Bowl. Some of this giddy delight is enraging citizens with different views. Social media has become a forum for people to spew their hate and fear. This seems especially prevalent, not surprisingly, but shamefully so, in christian circles. I’ve had a startling response: I don’t care! Rage against progress! Rage against inclusion! I don’t care what you think. I don’t care if your feelings are hurt. I am unapologetically relishing this moment in history. Homophobic christians, you are on the wrong side of history. Love has won. The arc of God’s kingdom is long, but it always bends toward justice.
It took me a few days (well, years) to get to this willful I-don’t-care space.
Christian America has been deeply divided for the past thirty years about gender identity and sexual preference. I quit hoping for christian “unity within our diversity” when I entered seminary 17 years ago and heard the most hateful things said in the name of Jesus. At first I joined the fray, fighting for my LGBTQ friends. I would stand up on the floor of presbytery, in class, whenever and wherever, to defend their right to be ordained and married.
After seminary I quit. I did not stop caring about the importance of LGBTQ issues: I married lesbian couples (no gay men yet, but please if you are interested let me know!), taught an inclusive sexuality curriculum to my youth, and even led continuing education classes on what the Bible does say (pretty much nothing) about homosexuality. Still, I left the scarred “christian” battlefield. I would not participate in the debate. It gave me migraines, stomachaches, and worst of all left me feeling hollow. I wanted to do productive work for the gospel. I wanted results, not endless arguments.
Then this week happened. All of a sudden I was back in the epicenter of the battle as I read shameful homophobic postings on my community’s Facebook page, encountered friends’ pleas for advice on how to deal with other fb friends’ hateful comments, and heard the most ridiculous christian-political rhetoric on national news. (Why, may I ask, has the media not interviewed the thousands of progressive christians who have been fighting for equal marriage for years? NPR, you can call me up. I would be happy to offer you my opinion!) Once again I was in the midst of the battle, but once again I was reluctant to participate. I simply deleted nasty posts, banned the people from Grace’s fb page, and tried to support my LGBTQ friends’ through their continued experiences of intolerance and hate.
Then the universe shifted when I remembered what a facebook friend posted after the tragic events in Charleston: I'm done arguing with knuckle-dragging racists. If you espouse or defend racism, I will unfriend you and/or block you. Life is too short to put up with stupidity and hatred disguised as "heritage" and "patriotism”. Get your flag, get your pointy white hat, and get the hell out of my life. Thank you.
He later reported that he lost a handful of friends, but gained more. I was amazed by his courage and his unapologetic stand against racism. Why should he be apologetic? I wouldn’t stand for my children saying hateful things; why should I tolerate adults’ homophobic or racist comments dressed up as religious belief?
Real christian community is not easily forged. Grace is not cheap, nor is forgiveness. If you want to continue to say hateful things about our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, do not expect me to listen. Do not be surprised if I unfriended you on Facebook. Expect to be banned from Grace’s Facebook page.
And do not, I repeat, do not think you have the Jesus monopoly. You may claim the title “Christian,” but you do not own Christ. The Jesus of Nazareth who laid claim to my heart called me to love courageously and radically. He did not call me to be “nice and polite” while people are excluded and hated. In fact, to hell with nice and polite. Homophobia is neither of those things, so it doesn’t deserve those things. Homophobia hurts people. It promotes bullying. It causes self-hatred. For Jesus’ sake it has to stop, and now.
Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace and radical inclusion. This week America took one step toward that kingdom by allowing gays to marry. It will take another step as those Confederate flags come down. God willing, we will keep on marching until everyone on the outside is invited in, until the hungry are fed, the homeless are housed, and the wounded are healed. Love is winning. Will you march with us?
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.