Monday, December 1, 2008

A Post-b World: Close-at-hand

I read with interest a new post on The Layman by John Adams, entitled "Conservative flight could boost 'progressive' vote against 'fidelity/chastity'."

It hints, perhaps, to a shift in the vote in favor of 08-B and a subtle but important change in tactic. The required rhetoric warning against the ordination of LGBT/Q folk is there, should 08-B be passed. In addition, though, the warning has become more generalized, broadening the importance of defeating 08-B in order to prevent "men and women who are sexually active outside of marriage" from being ordained.

It may be that the author, John Adams, who I respect and with whom I have had some significant disagreements, is sensing less of a resistance against our community. By broadening the argument, it is almost like he is saying, "OK, maybe you are unsure of whether LGBT/Q folk should or should not be ordained, however, put that aside. If 08-B gets through, it's the same as telling every man and women who wants to have sex outside of marraige to go ahead and we will still ordain you." 

A clever argument, once more based on fear. And, I think, a tip of the hat to us and the progressive groups that the faith, work, education, diligence, sacrifice and heart with which we have continued to press this church -- may actually be gaining support among those who were once adversaries.

It makes sense that sooner rather than later this church begins to feel the impact of a rising tide of welcoming and support for our LGBT/Q community. It makes sense, when one hears the stories I have time and again of faithful church-going families having loved ones denied a full membership in our church because they were LGBT/Q. It makes sense, that this is the time when the tireless work of organizations like That All May Freely ServeMore Light PresbyteriansWitherspoon SocietyCovenant Network, and many other groups and individuals is building to a consensus that was evident at GA218. 

What is happening is being fueled by the Spirit; we all know that.  But we are called to continue the legwork that has taken us this far, this close to the beginning of a just and welcoming church. We are in the time of a new ministry that will bring Word and Sacrament to our membership and the world in a way that has been long awaited and longer for. Among the many things God is doing in this world, this is surely one of them.

For the first time in the last decade, there are no other motions or task forces underway to siphon votes from passing the delete/change of G-6.0106b in ratifying 08-B. Those who have opposed ordination for our community frequently point to the increasing "NO" votes over the years when delete B overtures made it to the committees and plenaries of GA, or to the presbyeries. I have often felt that many of those votes were actually votes in favor of the Theological Task Force on Peace Unity and Purity to complete its work; it was a softer alternative than an outright delete B vote; it was an alternative that has its place now in our church, but it is not the answer to a full welcoming, without additional hoops to jump through, for our LGBT/Q called community. 

This time of ratification is truly a time of great anticipation and prayer. It is a time for enthusiastic and continued work within our presbyteries and with one another in our churches throughout the nation. It is also a time of thanksgiving for our faithful allies who have idefatigably spoken for many in our community who have been unable to speak for themselves. Without doubt, we are a family closer together than ever before, and the full reunion is soon to come: a reunion for all.

In this time of Advent on a day that we remember what ignorance and discrimination has done to create a pandemic called AIDS, let us not give up hope for one second, because the time for healing and unity in a post-b world is close-at-hand. 

Praise God.