Who’s the “we” implied in the title?
Not me, certainly, as one using the “editorial we” for self-importance. Nor is it the papal “we”; with due respect to Pope Francis, we Lutherans are no good at encyclicals.
Nor is it a collective “we,” meaning anybody with an opinion about homosexuality, as one of the most baffling, volatile issues we ever face.
Who, then, is meant by the “we” and why does it matter?
I’m trying here to reach and engage people who don’t go to Gay Pride parades, who are most often middle-age and older, not acquainted with anyone gay and not likely to become so anytime soon, people who have settled for a live-and-let-live attitude on the subject, not overtly homophobic but not out on a limb for gays either, people who are uncomfortable in thinking and talking about all things gay because it’s easier not to.
Can you see yourself somewhere in this description? If so, please keep reading.
My intent is not to set you up in order to put you down but to help you toward seeing the diversity of human sexuality in a new way because you’re able and ready to do so.
It starts with regarding the unspeakable horror of the Orlando massacre of 49 humans and 53 wounded, most of them gay, as a tipping point toward a change of your mind and heart even though at this moment you don’t know quite how.
I challenge you to own the feeling of being jarred, really kicked in the gut, by the Orlando bloodbath and not dismiss it before gaining some sense of what our fellow human beings of the LGBT community live with, in all forms of its ugliness, everywhere, all the time.
I challenge you to get at whatever revulsion against gays there is in you for what it is, a cancer eating away at you and all of us in the human family.
Can you who will skip the Gay Pride parade do so not out of smugness but as one attending to deep-down stirrings of soul and conscience that will lead to doing something and not nothing, saying something not keeping silent?
Let that stirring within you help you find your own way of emulating the wonderful outpouring of hands-on help for Orlando’s suffering, ranging from donating blood to donating cash to bringing comfort dogs to those in deep shock.
Can those good works down there motivate us up here to do better than going out to buy a gun as the best we can come up with?
I further challenge you to participate in something that’s more than a staging ground for a parade.
I’m thinking of your place in a congregation of people gathered in the belief that pride is not vanity but a sacred essential for responsible living and working with different others — gay and straight alike — as an expression of the conviction that all of us are made in God’s own image.
The unique thing that congregations can offer is bringing together people with different opinions and holding them together when quitting is tempting. Congregations, at their best, are a work in progress in this regard, composed of people ever learning anew the power of faith active in love.
I speak as one who has seen it happen, not only in others but in outgrowing my own hang-ups.
The good news for all of us is that, when battling homophobia for the sin that it is, we have a place with others in the parade that marches on with love to keep us in step, upbeat and hopeful as we go.