There's a story, a true story I am told, about an unfortunate fellow who spent a bit too much time sitting at the local pub. Time and again, night after night, he would wander home drunk. Many times he made the mistake of attempting to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. One night, much too loaded to drive, he opened the car door, got into the car, and discovered that his steering wheel had been stolen. Yes, stolen. Totally besides himself that anyone would do such a thing, he immediately got on his cell phone to call the police and report his steering wheel stolen.
A short time later a patrol car arrived. Both officers approached the driver, who remained seated in the car, window down. When the officers asked him what seemed to be the problem, the driver replied, "The problem? Look! Someone stole my steering wheel. They actually stole my steering wheel!"
The officers exchanged glances with one replying, "Sir, your steering wheel hasn't been stolen. It's there in the front seat, where it's supposed to be. You, on the other hand are seated in the back seat. And now you are going to be seated in our back seat."
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is often pointed to as having a lack of sanity. Until something happens to change the way one thinks, very often, things remain the same. Many people who recover from alcoholism or substance abuse report such events as "moments of clarity" in which they, themselves, see how they have been wrong in their judgment, assessment, perception, and choices. There is no underestimating that moment. It has been known to change not only the life of an alcoholic or an addict, but that of artists, poets, great leaders, believers, and even those who once were oppressors.
We are in a time in the PC(USA) of greater welcoming for our sisters and brothers who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT). The ratification of Amendment 10A, now part of the Book of Order as G-2.1014, makes it possible for gay men and women to be considered for ordination, just as anyone else would be. For those of us who are gay, we know that the exclusion never had any real basis. The fact that we love and marry members of our same gender is a difference without a distinction. Our lives are our lives, just as others lives are theirs. If there is a distinction that has mattered it has been that over and over, time and again, we have been questioned from baptism to burial about being gay. We have suffered serious consequences from the accusations and innuendos of others who believed that such an assault would make us "go away."
These days, as in the past, but more so these days - I pray for a moment of clarity for others to see what they have missed in the lives and faithfulness of their sisters and brothers who identify as being LGBT. We know there is nothing to fear in getting to know someone who is gay - other than discovering having been wrong about opposing gay folk in the first place. Perhaps some fear that were that discovery to take place, they would then be faced with changing their position - or remaining silently complicit in the great harm they were allowing to continue. Given such a prospect, it may be easier for some to just keep saying the same things over and over - and believing them to be true. It may be easier, but it certainly isn't fair, just, or Christian, in my opinion.
Sadly, fair, just, and Christian are not often the order of the day. Recently, I got a response from someone named Mary on one of the videos I have posted for "It Gets Better." She wrote, "GOD HATES HOMOSEXUALS" [Her capitalization.] She went on... "Turn or burn..."
As many times as I get something like this, it still bothers me a bit personally - I mean these people don't even know me! But, more - it bothers me because I feel terribly sad for whatever it is that fills someone like Mary with the idea that God could ever be a "hater" of God's own creation - and that she wishes those with whom she disagrees to be relegated to a hell of her own making. Whatever our differences, perhaps we can agree that this is not the way to go forward, and perhaps you will agree, as well, to pray with me for those like Mary who are so soul-sick that they twist God into their own personal executioner.
Clearly it was a good thing that the driver in my opening story was not behind the wheel. His sad experience hopefully produced one of those moments of clarity for him to do things a bit differently in the future. Maybe we, too, can find such clarity, eliminating the clouded vision of the old, innacurate, and mythic stereotypical perceptions about people who are gay, ending the sickness of bickering, exclusion, and harm. If we do, perhaps we in the PC(USA) can come to believe in God in ways that restore us to the sanity that reminds us we are called to love one another, working together as children of God.
May it be so.
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