Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Heavenly Places

God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

                        Ephesians 2.6

A Closer Look

Welcome to Gay Pride Month, a 30-day celebration that creeps in like a kitten and thunders out like a gorilla. Around the world, gay people and their allies spend the first three weeks at symposia, reading hours, and panel discussions the media conveniently ignore. When June ends with parades commemorating the ’69 Stonewall Riots that spawned the gay movement, though, cameras will take interest because pride celebrations make great TV. Who can resist sitting out a commercial break for a closer look at, say, burly jocks got up like Susan Boyle (my bet as this year’s new icon), nearly naked kids bouncing on floats, or a cadre of lesbian bikers? Mark my word: June 30’s coverage will tease these sorts of images for all they’re worth simply to glue viewers to their sets.

As Stonewall’s 40th anniversary opens the movement’s fifth decade, one expects the media will provide more substantial chronicles of its advances, setbacks, and struggles. The time required for such retrospectives, however, will result in preaching to the choir, as disengaged and disdainful audiences will pass them by for glimpses of sensational parade footage. The “closer look” they get will be the same clichés the media’s hyped for 40 years, bringing disengaged and disdainful audiences no closer at all. They won’t get closer looks at PFLAG marchers, same-sex couples and families, or welcoming churches valiantly obeying Luke 14.23: “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.” (More likely, they’ll see curbside clutches of misguided Christians waving “Go to Hell” placards like the cold, unlighted torches they are.)

Another Sunday

Once again, Tuesday reviews of Monday’s coverage will bring the same question: how can we raise our neighbors’ estimation of us if the media keep to the low road? The issues are too knotty to untangle. Freedom of expression twists around inaccurate, imbalanced representation. Defiance of rejection and drive for tolerance gnarl into crossed purposes. High-strung hijinks teasing homophobic clichés unravel into rope securing the very myths they taunt. While others continue picking apart the political and social strands lost in the jumble, gay believers are blessed with a better solution. Our witness of God’s love and acceptance lifts us above controversy, making every day a pride celebration. And while we embrace and honor the defiance displayed at Stonewall, we rejoice in another Sunday long before June 29, 1969. Our pride and confidence—our rights and victory—were established by the ultimate display of defiance, when Christ stepped out of His tomb to defeat sin and death forever.

God Pride

Believers challenged by minority status—not only orientation, ethnicity, gender, and class, but less discussed inhibitors like family, social, and professional standing—by all means should reverse the flow of prejudice by claiming its target as a source of pride. But we should also be cognizant our minority pride nests inside our majority status as one of billions created in our Maker’s likeness. Awareness we’re as we are and where we are because He willed it so entitles us to celebrate God pride. Realizing the enormous sacrifice He undertook to restore His pride in our making reframes our self-image in a fresh, powerful context. In Ephesians 2.6, Paul writes, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” That’s an image that definitely merits a closer look. Christ’s triumph over sin and death seats us with God in heavenly places, high above minority strife, above downcast stereotypes, above the short reach of fear-inflamed hatred.

God pride protects us to present His love to others. David—possibly the most hated, misjudged man in the Bible—says in Psalm 3.3: “You are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.” I urge all of us—gay and straight, female and male, from every ethnicity, class, profession, and background—to march through Gay Pride Month and every other month with heads lifted in God pride. It’s important for us and even more important for others. In verse 7, Paul explains God raises us to sit with Him to “show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Since the media can’t possibly capture God’s grace and kindness to us, our pride as His children is the only way others will ever get a close look at Him.

Annual celebrations of minority pride are nested inside God pride that all believers celebrate year-‘round.

(Tomorrow: Tireless)


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


My daughter is bisexual. It wasn't hard for me to accept, although I did express to her that if this was her lifestyle she needed to be aware of how people might see her, good or bad. Sometimes even what we see as just a part of us, people seem to lose their minds over. My ex-husband is a devout Catholic. If he had the slightest notion that she had even wanted to be with a woman, not to mention had been with one, he would never speak to her again. I have known since she was 15, she is now 23.

She doesn't join in on celebrating or any of that. I am not sure if it is because she fears doing so, or if she wants to keep it to herself, although most of her friends know.

I guess what I am trying to say is there are differences in us all, unfortunately there are people in the world that cannot see beyond their own face in the mirror and there are others that are just afraid that they will be included in a lifestyle that a friend might have and be seen as such. its rather shameful, but perhaps one day the world wont be so worried about what things on the surface look like and instead, be more concerned with what their actions say about who they are inside.

soft love,

Tim said...

T, you're so right about this. I think not accepting others is a sign we've not yet accepted ourselves, don't you? The problem with not looking beyond our own faces in the mirror may be we don't spend enough time looking there. If we take a long look at ourselves, we see more than we'd probably care to, and the experience of accepting that of ourselves is key to accepting others.

When I hear someone say, "I'm not perfect, but..." in my head I hear "I think I am." Because even though that's not said out loud, what is said invariably criticizes another, which implies the speaker's smug sense of superiority to the other.

As for what we reveal of ourselves (e.g., you, me, your daughter, etc.), that's an extremely personal decision. I'm not one of those come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are kind of people, because it's different for each of us. I do recommend those who can't accept aspects of their lives (not just sexuality) to confess it at some level, even if only to themselves, because hiding it suppresses it and that's never a good thing. But who knows, what they know, etc., is something we all must decide on a case-by-case basis.

Thanks for your comment! As always, it's a great joy to hear from you!

Blessings always,