The lectionary readings for yesterday and today inspired a train of thought in me.
Jesus: Do not be afraid; do not be anxious; why worry about the rest; set you mind on [the Father’s] kingdom. Luke 12
“Those who live on the level of the old nature have their outlook formed by it, and that spells death; but those who live on the level of the spirit have the spiritual outlook, and that is life and peace.” Romans 8.5-6
Those who oppose the presence of partnered LGBT Christians in church oppose our presence because of OT and NT law. (Some of them don’t believe gay people as such exist in reality. Gays are heterosexuals who wilfully deny their true sexuality.)
To be trained, as these conservative Christians would have us, to live conscious all the time of sin and law, rules and commandments, is to condemn us to death in spiritual terms. This is a conundrum that Paul struggles to understand in himself in Romans 7. Paul knows where the truth lies – in the spirit, not in the law. Conservatives forget this basic every time they start quoting Leviticus 18.22, 20.13 and Romans 1.26-27 at us. Every time, they forget that Paul’s argument is turned against them.
I accept that I am gay, that I am called to follow my heart in loving another man, that I am right to express love for him intimately and physically and to commit myself to him faithfully. It’s hard to do this against the judgmental background conservative noise.
We are created to be free from fear, worry and anxiety, as Jesus teaches, not to have it drilled into us by conservative Christians.
We are created by God to live in loving relationship, with God, with creation and with one another. We are created to live in harmony and peace. The new-born child is born into this harmonious Eden but looses it – by the terrible twos, as a result of socialisation and the need to become an independent person, free from total dependence on parents.. We lose our innocence and our innate awareness of loving goodness, trust and beauty is eroded. If we are blessed, we spend the rest our lives working spiritually to recover our inner spiritual trust and awareness. Sin – missing the mark – lies in not recovering our deep innate spiritual awareness of God.
Many (the majority) never awake to their spiritual journey. Many do, including many LGBT people, partnered Christian LGBT people. Following the path of love, the road less travelled, living in the present moment, being open to God and creation – these are the qualities that make life different when living in relationship with God.
What St Paul tries to do in Romans 7 is come to terms with his internal conflicts, between law and grace, commandments and freedom in the spirit. The present conflict in the church revolves around this as much as it revolves around sexual identity and activity, power and authority, history, scripture and tradition. St Paul caught the vision, as an adult, of the world created in Christ and for Christ and of people transformed in Christ. But he could never quite shed that persistently haunting old self constructed around law and obedience to commandments, his sinful, legalistic past.
We are journeying from darkness to light, from legalism to freedom in the spirit – NOT back into the closet, to Levitical law, rules and commands. Whatever frees LGBT people to become open and confident in following a spiritual path, which deepens our awareness of inner and outer space, of the profound glory and goodness of creation, is holy for us and brings us closer to God and to the sacred in all things.