Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Worst Action of All: No Action

The recent recommendation of some notable allies in the struggle for LGBT/Q folk has been to "do nothing" in considering the ratification of 08-B. For many of us, many...the idea of leaving G-6.0106b intact in our constitution points to the misunderstanding common to most institutions. The "misunderstanding" is that the PC(USA) is dealing with the issue of ordination standards for LGBT/Q folk. We are not an issue, thank you very much. We are not dealing with an issue - we are living, breathing, spirit-filled creations of God just like everyone else. We cannot be objectified as "an issue" in an attempt to distance this ratification from the real lives of our sisters and brothers who are LGBT/Q and how the church's consitution impacts those lives. 

In all the years that I have been part of working with others to change the church's practices, I have always been up-ended in trying to understand how loving Christians could not recognize how these unjust practices, ensured to continue by G-6.010b, could be allowed to go on knowing the violence they cause. Indeed, some of those most vocal in recommending no action have acknowledged the violence the church has nurtured by its misguided treatment of the  LGBT/Q community and the responsibility it has to change; to stop the violence; to accept its wrong-doing; and to set an example for others to follow in welcoming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people into the full work and worship of the Church of Jesus Christ. To hear at this critical time of decision, "Take no action," means the same thing it has meant for more than four decades: "Wait some more, LGBT folk. Wait. Our church is not quite ready. It's going to be too disruptive. Just a while longer. Let's try another way." 

Well, sorry, we are ready, and after 40 years of conversation and trying other ways it's time for the church to be ready, as well.

What is remarkable, I think, is that I believe most Presbyterians and most presbyteries are ready to finally go forward and use the new language for G-6.0106b that will deliver us all from this ongoing blemish on our church, our ministries, and our souls. What is remarkable to me is when some who are allies start sounding much like those who oppose us. Surely, that is not true, at least not directly. However, when actions are suggested that could postpone justice for reasons that are based on "order," I begin to have difficulty in teasing apart the practical difference between the two.

In many ways, the idea that any remnant of the current intention of G-6.0106b could be left in our Book of Order, regardless of advances in other areas - is an affront to the LGBT/Q Christian community and another blow to the chance we have to minister to those LGBT/Q believers seeking sanctuary and community in their faith journey to God. 

Perhaps, even more than the physical violence that emanates from any discriminatory policy, such as G-6.0106b, the spiritual violence of turning away God's children, denying them a full welcome, especially by allies and supporters has to be the worst blow of all.

Please, work within your churches, presbyteries, committees, and elsewhere to ratify 08-B. There are wonderful resources available at,, and elsewhere. And, once this work is done, the real work of healing and amends can begin. Until then, divided we will be.



Reyes-Chow said...

Ray - Good to finally meet you and thank you for your thoughts. Have you read Barbara Wheelers article in the outlook about NOT voting? While I do NOT think a non-vote would happen, there has been some buzz about the possibility. - Bruce

John Shuck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Shuck said...

Thanks, Ray! I am going to post it over on my place.

Bruce--Ray is responding to Barbara Wheeler's article. A few of us have. Check Witherspoon

Jodie said...

I like what I read on your blog. I am adding you to blogs I watch.

A couple of tangential reactions:

I think G6.0106b should be eliminated completely. It is badly worded, asks for the impossible, and is used capriciously to discriminate against a single group of individuals. Wrong in so many ways...

I also believe that God calls whom he calls, and we walk on holy ground when we presume to examine someone's claim to be called to serve the Church. Many are called who just say "No thanks". The greater error is to reject someone whom God called, than to ordain someone who is possibly miscast (and I think we do in fact make that error more often).

Having said that, I think the new amendment is a vast improvement, but still sets a bar that we would have to wink at and let people crawl under rather than over.

"striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions"

Now whereas pastors can point to seminary instruction to argue they follow Christ through the witness of the Scriptures, and perhaps even "understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions", although I sincerely doubt it, I am pretty sure that 90% of the elders in our denomination cannot really pass these two tests.

Fact of life.

It reads pretty, but still has the problem that it sets a standard we do not meet.

Another fact of life is that today we set one standard for pastors and another for elders. Something else the book of order is set against.

So just thinking aloud here, are we planing to enforce the changes required to pass the standard we propose?

Or are we going to write another standard that becomes meaningless in its implementation? Because if we do that, I think we should just delete 106b and replace it with nothing at all.

Maybe I am too harsh, but I am tired of people using the BOO and/or the Bible as a brick with which to hit people over the head. As soon as somebody writes something down, somebody else is going to be using it as a brick.

And this week I am all about disarmament.

Maybe we should have two votes. First to delete 106b, and then second, to write something in its place?

Maybe we could break it up into a few clauses we could vote on individually?

If you start thinking about it, you brain starts to hurt...