Musing 6.19.20

PASTOR JOHN’S MUSING 6.19.20

Several members have asked me how I feel about Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that LGBT people cannot be fired or otherwise discriminated against in their workplace because of their sexual orientation. I feel the same way about today’s DACA ruling which came down 15 minutes ago. Fantastic! The decisions are major steps in equality, justice, and human rights. They call to mind the beautiful language from the Social Principles of the 2016 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. I’ll quote all of paragraph 162.

"The rights and privileges a society bestows upon or withholds from those who comprise it indicate the relative esteem in which that society holds particular persons and groups of persons. We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection. We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, status, economic condition, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation. Our respect for the inherent dignity of all persons leads us to call for the recognition, protection, and implementation of the principles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that communities and individuals may claim and enjoy their universal, indivisible, and inalienable rights."

Such a paragraph makes us proud to be United Methodists. It appears that our country is catching up to our Social Principles. After people asked about Monday’s ruling on LGBT people, their next questions were, “Do you think this will affect the United Methodist Church? Do you think this will finally give LGBT persons full rights in the Church?” Ironic, isn’t it? What we ask of people outside the Church, we don’t practice inside the Church. A standard that the Church sets for society it doesn’t set for itself. The tables are turned. The Church needs to catch up to the country.

We have to confess that our country has not always lived up to its ideals. We have been reminded of that in the last month. Our Church has not always lived up to its ideals. King Avenue has not always lived up to its ideals. I have not always lived up to my ideals. All of our lives are ironic. I can pick almost any group in the cited paragraph and document where I have fallen short. We are sinners. Our common ground is not our perfection. Our common ground is our sinfulness. This says all of us are in need of Christ’s salvation. All of us, country, Church, church, and I, are trying to catch up to the ideals of Christ. After all, it is not what we think of other Christians that makes us Christian; it is what we think of Christ that makes us Christian.

With that I’ll answer the questions in the third paragraph. I am tremendously encouraged that 83% of Americans think it should be illegal to fire employees based on sexual orientation. Of course, I wish it were higher, but this is major tipping point. Our country is living up to its ideals. I am hopeful for our Church. Two weeks ago, I wrote that the protest marches were a sign that the Spirit is moving. The Supreme Court decisions of Monday and Thursday are also signs that the Spirit is moving. Praise God!