Updated: Jun 8
I am usually an upbeat kind of person. It's Pride Month and the rainbow flags and colourful t-shirts are always a feast for the eyes and a lift to the heart.
This year, though, I am feeling pensive. Frustrated. Maybe even angry - which is a lot for me.
There is a push across the world to roll back people's rights. Women's rights? Cue The Handmaid's Tale. Drag Queens offering stories to little kids in a library? Kick them out. Oh, and long revered books? Ban them. Don't say gay or abortion or anything that goes against the choking, repressive control of those who somehow got into positions of power.
Truth is, in some parts of the world, I could be arrested or worse, because of who I am.
Here in Canada, we feel a little smug. WE are evolved. WE are tolerant. Cue the thumbs up and back slapping, and a disco rainbow float with gorgeous gay guys with water guns. Right?
We truly aren't.
While we have come a long way, baby, we are not as welcoming as we like to think.
I live in Niagara on the Lake. Theatre town. Wine country. Cultured and rather sophisticated. Welcoming international visitors. Manicured gardens. Lots of ghosts. Historic. On the surface a beautiful, harmonious place with welcoming shops and people. Twice now, the new rainbow sidewalk installed a few weeks back has been vandalized. No one seems very surprised, largely complaining about the cost to keep fixing it, rather than focusing on what that defacing symbolizes.
Last fall, a "Love is Love" garden flag in front of our house was twisted into a pretzel on its sturdy frame. A call to the police revealed that this kind of thing was happening more and more in the region. They flagged it as a potential hate crime.
As a wedding officiant (and bishop in an inclusive church,) I often get calls from upset LGBT+ couples sharing that ministers have told them they are going to hell. They innocently call looking for an officiant to do their weddiing - and often a reverend of some description or other -gives them a lesson in bad theology and hellfire instead.
This is unacceptable.
Bible thumpers pound on Leviticus and a few obscure passages in the Old Testament to prove that it is immoral to be a member of the rainbow family. Christians complain that the LGBTQS2+ community has usurped the rainbow from the story of Noah and God's promise. Hello, that sign was a sign of peace for all. There is not a copyright on sunlight on water vapor.
Why don't Christians stop scouring the old covenant and obey the new covenant, given by the one whom they profess to follow?
What did Jesus say about same-sex relationships or others who identify in a way that doesn't fit the "Adam and Eve" mold? He didn't say ANYTHING. Nada. He did have something to say about divorce and staying true to the one you made a commitment with, however. Just sayin'.
There is this: in Matthew 8:5–13 and in Luke 7:1-10 we hear about a high-ranking Roman soldier who approaches Jesus because his servant is very sick and he is worried about him.
Jesus immediately responds, "Shall I come and heal him?" The soldier replies that he believes if Jesus says the word, the servant would be healed. Jesus, amazed at the depth of this man's faith agrees. In fact, Jesus used him as a great example of faith. Others should be like him in theirs.
Now, there is something very important about this encounter. High ranking officers like this Centurion were not allowed to marry. They were allowed male servants -concubines- as companions. In the original language the word for the servant he described was "pais"- the same word used for a male servant in this capacity. Yup.
Jesus knew who the servant was to this man. He saw his concern. He offered to go to him without hesitation. It didn't matter to Jesus that there was a same-sex relationship implicated here. That is so very significant. If Jesus, the one whom Christians profess to follow didn't have an issue, why does any Christian? Why, indeed.
I am putting out the call for us all to WAKE THE HELL UP. The world is on fire. The ice caps are melting. People are in peril. Horrible people have the reins across the world. Powerful people, revved up on greed, are pulling strings like puppet masters.
Remember what Jesus said to us. He told us that we could do greater things than he did.
He was talking to a downtrodden group of folks that day. He is speaking to all of us, no matter how you see deity. He is telling us that we have power. We are not helpless. We need to believe that. We can stand up to power or work in ways to defuse it.
Rant is almost over...
It starts with each one of us, Christian or not. "Love one another," is a simple enough commandment. We all need to do what we can to speak up and embrace diversity. We are all humans being. Living our truth. YOU count. YOU matter. And so do the rights that have been so hard fought to establish. Line in the sand time.
Here at IYW we stand with the LGBTQS2+ community in all of its glorious expression. We are all one, all part of that rainbow, bearing each other's burdens instead of adding to them. Wave the rainbow. Be the rainbow in someone's cloud. It's all about love. #Pride