Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tolerance and Transformation

‘With the backing of their openly lesbian pastor, a Baptist church in Raleigh, North Carolina has voted to prohibit her from signing marriage certificates until gay couples can marry too.
The congregants said in a formal statement that current North Carolina law - and the language proposed for a vote next year on an amendment to the state Constitution - discriminates against same-sex couples "by denying them the rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples." "As people of faith, affirming the Christian teaching that before God all people are equal, we will no longer participate in this discrimination," the church's statement says. The vote was unanimous and brought tears to the eyes of some of the 100 or so members who stood to vote in favor [sic] of the “statement on marriage ceremonies.”’

A short post. Less than a couple of hundred words. And yet today this short paragraph pulled me out of the darkness of depression and reminded me why I answered this call to ministry in the first place. It was never about carpets or curtains or the picture that's been in June's loft for the past decade. It was because I had a vision, a vision that the church needn't be a place where discrimination is openly fostered and exclusion is the norm. I followed a call to a vocation that I knew I would love and hate, and would want to affect with every fibre of my being. I knew that the church had the potential to be a place of openness, tolerance, love, grace… but I forgot. I forgot that the church had the ability to be anything other than cruel, egotistical, poisonous, and malicious.

But today, I read this article and remembered what I’d dreamed, what I had so desperately wanted to work towards. A community of people who are driven, inspired by Christ to stand up and be counted, speak out against injustice and inequality, whatever it looks like. A community of people who are not divided by petty differences, but instead united before a common cause. What this church has done is a beautiful thing, a thing that would bring a tear to the eye of him in whose name they have done it. I daresay over the coming weeks and months they’ll be in for a hard time from many who call themselves “Christian brothers and sisters” (but are clearly more interested in pointing out the specks in other people’s eyes than trimming back the forest in their own), and I hope they will be strengthened every time they open the bible and see in those pages the same kind of radical action for justice that they have displayed.

So this is me, laying my cards on the table. I completely agree with them. That homosexual couples are not afforded the same rights, securities and privileges as heterosexual couples is completely absurd, and we have no excuse, no defence for our discrimination. It is time to change. And I won’t sit by aimless while nothing is being done. I am an instrument of change. Get used to it.

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