Tuesday, November 18, 2014

David Gushee on the Difference Between Being a Bystander and Standing in Solidarity: The Suffering of LGBT Christians Who Have Been "Pushed Out"

In an interview at Religion Dispatches with Candace Chellew-Hodge, evangelical theologian David Gushee explains what has caused him to make his "existential core decision" to stand with LGBT human beings, "those who've been pushed out":

I remember a long time ago somebody noticed that human suffering is really important in my ethic—my dissertation was on the Holocaust — and I've written a lot about those issues, but at last I began to focus on the suffering of what I would say is the church's own most oppressed and wounded minority group. It's not enough to kind of cluck sympathetically, "Oh, isn’t that too bad, we need to do better." But, I was still being a bystander. I needed to stand in solidarity and be more like the rescuers—not that I can rescue anybody—but to stand in full support of those who had been so mistreated.

As Gushee also notes, it was coming to know LGBT people as persons that began to change his mind — coming to see the anguish experienced by many LGBT human beings at the experience of being pushed out. And so here's what's going on in some gay lives, some gay households, some gay families, as a direct result of what some Christians want to call the "necessary correction" of the fall elections:

Three hundred couples who tied the knot when Michigan's gay marriage ban was briefly lifted in March have been given a message from the state that, legally, it's as if their marriages never existed at all.

Voting to place into power people whose avowed intent is to remove rights from fellow human beings, voting to support a politico-religious ethos that prioritizes adding misery to misery in the lives of some fellow human beings: this is voting to affect those human lives. It is voting to immiserate the lives of a targeted minority community, to create suffering for a targeted minority community.  

My patience is beyond wearing thin with hearing people who claim to love and support me tell me they voted in folks pledged to make my life miserable in the recent elections because they wanted a "correction" for the political and economic course of the nation. That correction is once again being built across my back and the backs of all other LGBT human beings in the United States.

The graphic: the cover of David Gushee's new book about his changed mind on how the Christian community must relate to LGBT human beings.

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