The hurt we all caused
by Rev. Gary Marcelin
While my wife and I were on the dance floor, cutting a rug… lol, there goes another rarely used phrase from a millennial. John introduced us to his partner, a Presbyterian pastor, a MAN! I couldn’t believe it! My world came crashing into the unknown. The puzzle pieces could not fit. I was taught that gay people were not like me or normal folk. The fear that was given to me could not stand in the face of my reality.
The narrative was, that all gay men wanted to have sex with every man they saw! I was given an image of a sex craved man, void of any dignity! A thought came to mind, “is this the same way ignorant people see my beautiful dark skin?” Oppression of the other causes much damage, but even more damage to the oppressor.
I had to make a thorough inventory. Was John still God’s perfect love pressed out into visibility? Did he still have something that I was longing for? Did I still want it? Was he still the loving, kind, generous man now that I knew he was gay?
How did I get to this place? Our beliefs are tools, tools to understanding God and when that tool no longer works for the function at hand, we need a new tool. So often our beliefs become idols, idols we put before love, compassion and forgiveness. God was painting a picture filled with love and inclusion, the circle was being drawn wider and all I had in my tool box was a hammer. I couldn’t add to God’s painting, I couldn’t be the hands and feet of Christ with my hammer of hatred and power. I had good intentions. Every time I tried to participate in what God was doing, I ended up hurting others with my hammer. Belief is one of the hardest things to change. Our creeds, dogma and doctrines are all tools we use to understand God. Our belief of God is not the same as God. So, don’t be afraid to change, it doesn’t mean God is changing. It just means we are drawing a little bit closer to God and our compass to guide us, can only be powered with love. In the midst of all of this my heart is strangely warmed, I’m excited for the new things that are being cultivated within the UMC and the larger Church.
There is no mistake that white supremacy, white Christian supremacy’s hands are at the root of spreading this hatred in an attempt to maximize power; both conservatives and progressives have played a significant role. The spread of fear is dangerous, history has the scars to prove it. Fear launches mass genocide, ask the people from the Republic of Rwanda. Where their colonizers spread fear to establish power and wealth and left them to kill the very people they have lived with for generations. Fear is a disease that strips away one’s humanity.
Conservative and progressives you have a false righteousness. Repent from your past actions that are leading us back to a place of hatred. Conservatives, stop using the African continent to hold your power. Progressives you don’t get to remove yourself from the same hatred you help maintain and privileged from and once it doesn’t benefit you, you want to leave. Both sides can run from it, but you can’t hide.
So, if my Caribbean brothers and sisters, who are not as far removed as our African-American brothers and sisters to our roots in Africa feel this deeply about homosexuality, I can image how strongly some of my African brothers and sisters feel about homosexuality. I can understand why our African delegates voted how they did.
This hatred is moving outside of the walls of the church. While we are arguing about changing words in a book, nations around the world are creating laws against homosexuality, laws that will/are oppressive and lead to violence. We as a Church had a chance to say to the world, no, we are different, we see the humanity in you, you are created in the image of God, and you have sacred worth; but instead we just followed the status quo. The status quo that says wealth and power is more important than people. We followed suit and said, money, pensions and property are more important than people.
This topic of homosexuality does not fall far from the tree of White Supremacy. This tree of white supremacy is held up by roots of oppression. We must deal with the brokenness of the past to move forward and not make the same mistakes.
What I’m about to say will alienate me from most of the people I’ve grown up with, it is against how my family feels, what my childhood church feels and most of the people I know from my home community.
I received the following text message from a friend, and it made me sad.
“The Methodist church really needed to vote on whether gays and lesbians should be accepted, condoned, and/or in positions of leadership? (Throw up emoji inserted) That’s disgusting! The Bible is very clear on God’s stance on that… very sad day for y’all.”
It’s not his fault, this is the hate you gave. He only knows how to give it back. He really does love the religion you gave him!
This United Methodist pastor stands on the side of love, I stand against the side of any oppressive force that seeks to dehumanize the other. My LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters there is room for you at the table. With my loudest voice I will stand on every mountain top and let the world know that God lives within you. When I see you, I see me; We are ONE.