Friday, June 21, 2013

Quote for the Day: Exodus International and Saving Wretches Like Them

Quote for the day--Fred Clark at Slacktivist on Exodus International's apology to the gay community:

Evangelical Christianity is at its best when it speaks of "a wretch like me." For decades, Exodus International has been a pillar of evangelical Christianity at its worst — the politicized, culture-warrior faith that speaks of a wretch like you or of a wretch like Them.  . . . 
But the lies Exodus represented and promoted were critically important for the white evangelical “worldview” here in America. Evangelicals’ treatment of LGBT people could only be defended by the false claim that such people were making a "lifestyle choice" — that they were willful sinners choosing sin who therefore deserved to be shunned, deserved to be denied full participation in the church, deserved to be denied full legal equality and civil rights. Without that lie, all that remains is transparent malice, a naked refusal to love our neighbors, and an unseemly eagerness to puff ourselves up by stomping down on those we can outnumber and overpower.

Good news, the kind the Christian gospels intend to proclaim, never singles out a targeted group of human beings and proclaims them as dirty in some way that sets them apart from the rest of the human race--and makes them susceptible to shame and violence by setting them apart. Good news, the kind the Christian gospels intend to proclaim, never states that the bodies of gay men are so filthy that they don't deserve Christian burial, even as every other kind of human being in the world can have a Christian burial.

As Bishop Tom Gumbleton notes in his latest homily published by National Catholic Reporter, the astonishing good news of the gospels is that God loves each and every one of us with unmeasured love--loves us as sinners. God loves us because we're sinners. As St. Augustine taught, we can't and don't even turn to God for conversion unless God first calls us to the loving divine embrace, making possible our turn to God. God takes the first step. Out of unmeasured love. Directed to all of us as sinners.

We cannot and do not turn to God for conversion from sin without God's prior gracious, merciful, and loving approach to us. For gay and lesbian people, the response to that divine approach is quite seriously impeded by the churches and by the pastoral leaders of the churches, with their talk about dirty gay hands that set us apart from all other human beings and all other categories of human beings--and with their talk about special repentance designed for us alone before we approach the table of the clean.

For gay and lesbian people, our approach to the table God sets for all of us is vastly impeded by the unmerciful, ungracious, unloving way in which many members of the Christian community behave toward us as a targeted minority, and by the unmerciful, ungracious, and unloving words and actions of too many Christian pastoral leaders. Pastoral leaders who include, for me as a Catholic and for many other Catholics, the very men now throwing big Fortnight for Freedom bashes to celebrate "equality for all" even as they work against my equality and my rights everywhere they can in the U.S.

The graphic: one of the Catholic worshipers denied entrance to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York last month because her hands were dirty. The photo is from an article by Alan Neuhauser at the DNAInfo New York website.

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