Friday, June 26, 2015

Who is waiting for us

Today, the greatest country on earth, by the decision of its highest judicial authority, the Supreme Court, gave the right to marry to the homosexual minority in a ruling, five for, four against. This decision finally gives ‘marriage equality’ to that minority which, whether rightly or wrongly, is sexually attracted to people of the same gender. Homosexuality used to be called a condition, and cures for it were explored, that is, when it wasn’t condemned as a crime and punished with prison or with death, but apparently none were found, and the medical profession dismissed it as a sickness. Some people are just that way.

Christ had as much trouble explaining this to His contemporaries, ‘For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it’ (Matthew 19:12), but He leaves it in our hands on how we choose to deal with it. By natural instinct and by logic, the human race wants everything to work as it is designed to work, one man plus one woman equals offspring and family. Homosexual people, though, have to deal with an anomaly.

That anomaly is, the universe is what it is, even when it doesn’t exactly fit our ideas of how it ought to be, from the biggest matters down to the smallest, that means us. What appears to be, or what looks like it should work in a certain way, isn’t always what it seems, doesn’t always work as we think it should. Two men can be examined physically and described as the same. You can even cut them open and their insides look as much alike as their outsides. But men are alive. They have souls. You can examine their souls and find that they are radically different. Those souls are not accidents. They are what they are.

People throughout history have feared what is different, in nature and in each other. Sometimes they have acted on this fear in very harmful ways, enshrining their fears in systems of law. Sometimes those systems of law have been written in the stone of sacred scriptures, in words that can in no wise be changed. Why? Because God would be angry. I don’t know what other scriptures say, but I am a Christian and know what the Bible says, or at least, I think I know. But as an Orthodox Christian I also believe that the Bible and the Universe are in agreement. Why? Because God is the Author of both.

As Christians we have to be willing to consider the real world from every angle, accepting the findings of science without abandoning the truths of God. As Christians we have to be ready to move when God moves because, unlike us, He is not static. If nothing else, the Bible shows us that we have to be continually prodded, encouraged, enlivened, inspired to keep moving, keep following, running after God. Not some static God whom we have made up and safely enthroned far away from us in ‘heaven,’ but the God who has entered our humanity, who is ‘on earth as in heaven,’ the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

The Lord of the Sabaoth has been revealed to us as the Lord of the Sabbath. He was, He is, and He is to come, the First and the Last, the Pantokrator, the fiery center of Being is revealed to live with us, within us, manifesting as us, pacing us as He runs alongside, making sure that all of us make it to the end of the race, all of us coming in first in a mystic tie with the Lord of the Universe, all of us champions, all of us to wear the crown that only He deserves, but which He graciously shares with us. ‘Everyone who wins the victory will sit with me on my throne, just as I won the victory and sat with my Father on his throne’ (Revelation 3:21).

Back to earth. What are we to do with this earthly ruling by human judges judging by reason to give to those who are different from us the same rights that the majority of us already have by nature? Are we going to fight back if we disagree, using the same arguments as we always have, to safeguard what we think is ours alone? The ancient Hebrews had a law to put to death those men who used each other sexually as women. They had no law regarding women doing with women what only men should do, but the apostle Paul decries both just the same, as against nature, and against God. What are we to do?

Historically, modern societies have decriminalized homosexual activity and given homosexual people a minimum of tolerance. We look down on the Islamic and the black African worlds for not doing the same. The Church condemns homosexual acts as sin. In the minds of many, homosexuality is reprehensible. They are not homosexuals themselves and cannot imagine it as being good. Homosexuality is something we should be ashamed of. Well, what I say is, why not just kill them all, and be done with it, instead of just killing them spiritually as we have been doing for centuries.

Of course, I don’t mean what I just said, but I did say it because it is the truth. The Church, especially—and I can say this as a member of her—has been killing them spiritually by excluding them from salvation. How? By not giving them the means of grace to live moral and spiritual lives, by not giving them a sacred bond in which to live in faithfulness and love with each other, consigning them to a life of sexual fantasy and promiscuity from which marriage is designed to deliver them, but which is denied them. When Christ is brought into the picture, we bring Him in to condemn, as did the Pharisees.

Homosexual marriage cannot be biologically what heterosexual marriage should be, but if marriage was instituted by God for no other reason than procreation, then most married couples are not going along with His program. But I think all will agree there is more to marriage than making babies, otherwise why second marriages? If giving homosexuals the same rights to marry as heterosexuals will in some way degrade the institution of marriage, then we should expect to see this fairly quickly, and the judges, different ones to be sure, will reverse the ruling. Prohibition seemed for ever, yet it was repealed.

What I think all this boils down to, whether we are Christians or not, is are we willing to ‘live and let live’ and let others share the ‘life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness’ that we want for ourselves, or is there something in some people that disqualifies them from it? In the past, black Africans in America were enslaved, and what made this reasonable and acceptable was the notion that they were in some manner ‘not quite human,’ almost a kind of hominid livestock. Oddly enough, we let them become Christians and be ‘saved,’ but I wonder if the thought was that heaven would be segregated.

Finally, as far as the Church is concerned, the challenge that I see is whether or not we will share with this subset of the human race the same life of grace and salvation we want for ourselves. We are so given to picture-thinking that if we cannot imagine ‘how it will look’ we are afraid to allow it. Myself, I have already seen, in some places within the Church, ‘how it will look.’ Actually, it doesn’t look very different. But ultimately, Church and the life of salvation is not so much about ‘how it will look’ but ‘what we shall be.’ In the life of the Holy Trinity, even marriage was only a foretaste of Who is waiting for us, the Bride of Christ.

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