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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Last Respectable Prejudice, Part 2

The Moral Implications That Follow from This Equivalency 

In yesterday's post, I compared the Civil Rights struggle of the 20th century with the gay rights struggle of today.  My purpose was to show how they are morally equivalent struggles. If this is the case, and I believe it is, then certain conclusions can be drawn for how we engage today's moral issue of gay rights.

The Civil Rights struggle took people willing to commit their lives to the cause, and many lives were sacrificed to make it happen.  Many more were beaten and jailed.  Other than for a few organizations like Soulforce, few seem to be willing to lay down their lives for this cause. And there are occasions that call for such sacrifices.  Whenever gays are physically attacked, or otherwise abused, we need people to intervene on their behalf.  If you are part of the gay community, or an ally, are you willing to put your body in harms way for the sake of another?  (We are only recommending nonviolent intervention. This is a good training site.)

The Civil Rights Movement had lunch counter sit-ins, marches, civil disobedience actions, and individual protests to call attention to the brutality and legal discrimination in their daily lives.  One of the least understood aspects of the gay rights movement is public protesting on the order of Gay Pride parades and other demonstrations.  "We're here, we're queer; get used to it," made straight America uneasy and sometimes disgusted with our cause, but the point was made.  These public protests were as necessary for the gay struggle to succeed as for the racial struggle.  Continuing the public witness to gay life and love continues to be an important aspect of the movement.  

The involvement of churches and synagogues, their White pastors and rabbis, was a key element in the Civil Rights struggle.  The moral pressure through common suffering with African Americans, preaching from the pulpit, marching shoulder to shoulder, sitting in jail side by side, writing books and pamphlets, all gave America a picture of injustice and what to do about it that may have turned the tide.  Allies are not just important to the gay rights struggle, but critical.  Nothing is more persuasive than someone without ulterior motives being willing to side with the oppressed.  It raises questions in other's minds about why, which can lead to greater understanding all around.  Allies bring a moral weight that cannot be denied.

That’s why we straight people are your allies.  As part of the shared but frayed fabric of humanity we recognize that your injustice is our injustice, your suffering is our suffering, and your joys are our joys.
As a pastor from one of our nation’s mainline denominations, I call upon like-minded clergy from all denominations to “come out!”  Come out of your cloistered closets and become one more straight for the Beloved Community.  Come out of your isolation where you mourn injustices in solitude, and join with the multitude of the Beloved Community.  Come out from your tepid preaching on love that says God loves all people without distinction, ending there, and, instead, teach your congregations the real truth: that God loves and affirms and nurtures LGBTs and desires their companionship as longingly as God pursues the holiest saint.

Teach them that God created Adam and Steve and loves them as much as Adam and Eve. Teach them to love all their neighbors with agape love, and lead the way by your own example.
What will save us from ourselves? Nothing less that recognizing that I am you and you are I. As you fair, so do I.  And until we all sit together around the table of equality, none should take a seat there.  

It is the recognition that all human life is interrelated, all men and women are brothers and sisters, all humanity is a single orientation, the human orientation.  That’s why we straight people are your allies.  As part of the shared but frayed fabric of humanity, we recognize that your injustice is our injustice, your suffering is our suffering, and your joys are our joys.

As Gandhi put it, "All oppression is of the same fabric."  If you understand what Dr. King meant by, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," you are on the way to helpful service in the most just cause of our time.


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