September 05, 2009

Encouraging Words 9/5/09-"It easier to hate people when you don't have to look across the table and say 'pass the salt' to them

A Lutheran pastor, Re. Erik Samuelson, was invited to write an essay for Queerty about what the vote at the recent ELCA conference means to Lutherans across America. Here's an excerpt:

Well, I must say this is a first for me—writing a guest editorial for a queer website—but I'm guessing that it is the first time an ordained Lutheran pastor has been invited to write for this website so we're all in uncharted territory. And I've read a bit of how religion (especially Christianity) gets spoken of on this site, so I suppose I'm opening myself up for a shit-storm of comments and emails—and many of them I'm sure based on horrible personal experiences you all have had, which I get. And for what its worth, I'm sorry that we Christians have allowed this unchecked hate to go on for so long and have been such hypocrites. I don't intend to defend my faith, the Bible, or my church, or to try to convince you that you should believe what I believe or do what I do. But these things are important to me, and so I'm glad to tell you about them. Do with it what you will.

It's easier to hate people when you don't have to look across the table and say “pass the salt” to them. But the witness of the Gospel of Jesus (when we are getting it right) is that everyone means everyone, all are welcome at the table—and that means anti-gay folks as much as gay folks, as hard as that may be. What the “magical homo” did was a very difficult act of justice, kindness, and humble walking with God, when nobody would have been surprised if he were to have acted in vengeance instead (as one commentator said: “kick some ass”) and many would have cheered him on. And what I saw again and again on that assembly floor was that gay and lesbian people and their allies (including me) were surprised by the feeling of pain and compassion they experienced when the thing they had longed for finally was reality. They realized that they knew, deeply, what those newly queered folks (their brothers and sisters) were now experiencing—and reached out to them not as opponents, but as fellow broken, hurting, queer people. To use my Jesus language, Jesus broke himself (and continues to break himself for our sake) so that we might be made whole. And followers of Jesus—gay and straight, rich and poor, male and female, Democrat and Republican, fundamentalist and liberal—when we are doing this right, reach out of our brokenness (and I dare say our queerness?) to bring healing to our brothers and sisters.

How queer these Lutheran Christians are, loving people who aren't like them, loving as would wish to be loved, even their enemies as themselves. Isn't this the kind of justice we all long for?

We believe this truly represents the heart of Jesus. Click here to read the rest of Rev. Samuelson's essay.

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