Saturday, July 4, 2009
It’s About More Than Justice
Michael Hopkins, past president of Integrity was a colleague of mine in Washington, DC/ I have always appreciated the clarity of his thinking. I offer his words as folks prepare for General Convention.
One of the caricatures of the movement for full inclusion of gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender persons in the Episcopal Church is that for us it
is all about justice. It is about justice, of course, but it is also about
far, far more. It is about the very nature of Gospel.
“The Gospel” can be defined in as many ways as there are Christians, of
course. Jesus didn’t give us a neat definition with which to work. He did
say it was about the ability to change one’s mind, one’s sense of direction
(“repent and believe the good news”). But for the content of this good news
he used the metaphor of the kingdom of God and told a lot of stories. In
the end he acted out one great story with his life and his death. Overall,
the good news is about the overcoming of estrangement, reconciliation
between God and humankind and between human beings. We all have to trust in
his death and resurrection for this reconciliation to be the truth that sets
us free. This freedom is grace, as we call it, unmerited favor.
The inclusion of lgbt people in the life of the church is a radical sign of
this grace. People whom the law separates from the faithful are reconciled
by it. And this happens in spite of religious and secular authorities
desiring for it not to be so. They fear the breakdown of society if the
inclusion goes too far too fast, but it has always been thus with the
Church, which at its best has always scandalized the authorities, because
Jesus Christ was and is the greatest scandal of them all.
A well-meaning bishop once said to my then Senior Warden (who was relatively
new to the parish—it was a small parish, rebuilding) that it was great that
she chose to be a member of the parish in spite of the fact that I was gay.
My Senior Warden responded, “No, I’m a member of this parish because he is
gay. Because if God can love him then God can love me.”
That’s what this is about. This is not about a group of people clamoring
for their “rights.” It is about the power of the Gospel to reconcile across
every divide that humankind creates.
As a Christian who happens to be gay, St. Paul’s words that we will hear the
Sunday after General Convention is over (July 19) ring true and strong.
*But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by
the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both
groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the
hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and
ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the
two, thus making peace…*
To this truth, by the grace of God, the lives of glbt Christians bear
The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins