Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Imago Dei

Yesterday was a very emotional day for me, revolving around a singular concern.

One of my buddies from collegiate debate publicly came out as bisexual, and almost at the same time, a Disciples colleague and friend of mine wrote an incredibly poignant and moving testimony on her blog about how she became an advocate of same-sex equality (seriously, her story should be required reading for anyone wrestling with how they feel about GLBTQ equality, and I praise her for the courage to share it).

And all of this is in the midst of me explaining this to my (extremely understanding!) regional minister as our denomination goes through some of these same pains.

Of course, all of this had to get kicked off with Frank Bruni at the New York Times writing a very emotional column about the support (and lack thereof) of families, friends, and churches as well for gays and lesbians.

So, holy cow.

I am extremely proud of both my buddy for the courage to publicly own his identity, and and of our wide circle of mutual friends for their reaction.  As of this writing, over 275 people have 'liked' his announcement that he came out, where he simply began with:

The days of hating myself for who I am are behind me.

Hating myself is behind me.

Self-hatred is behind me.

It reminded me of what Jesus says to Peter when Peter protests Jesus' prophecy that He will be tried and executed: "Get behind me, Satan!"

Satan works in many ways in our world, but self-hatred has to be one of his and most terrible and powerful agents of evil.  Because of self-hatred, people are driven to harm, mutilate, neglect, and even actively kill themselves.  And a disproportionate share of people who have done so--especially young people--have been GLBTQ.

And we enable that evil--we spread that evil, in fact--every time we do not meet someone's courage in coming out with our love and our support.

I don't care what you think about same-sex marriage.  I really don't.  This goes beyond the political question to basic caritas, to basic love.

For Paul writes that faith, hope, and love abide.  But the greatest of these is love.

And whatever you may think about someone's right to marry, or to obtain civil union status, or anything of that sort, we are holding peoples' lives in our hands when they come out to us because those people are asking us to love them as they are.

What a wonderful privilege.

What a colossal responsibility.

And what a crucial obligation of ours to squander neither the privilege or the responsibility.

As a Christian pastor, one who believes in Scripture and what it teaches as the inspired Word of God, I simply say this to my gay and lesbian friends, neighbors, and brothers and sisters in Christ:

Be as you are.  Be as you were made--fearfully and wonderfully so by God Almighty.

Be as the imago dei--the image of God--that you are, and know that God will love you.

Yours in Christ, from someone in the church who believes in you,

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