Saturday, December 18, 2010

We are made a community of equals in Christ

Male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free.(1) Neither how we are born, nor who we are politically or socially organized, nor how we are economically related to each other, is to have any impact on our status as children of God in Christ.(2) All children of God should be welcomed in ministry. We extrapolate this powerful good news in many ways already - beyond ‘Jew and Gentile’ to other races and nations; beyond ‘slave or free’ to other economic systems and injustices.(3) The community of equals in Christ extends to LGBTQ persons as well.

1. This is a message so radical that not even Paul fully understood it, no more than we fully understand it now, with our continuing struggles with racism, misogyny, cultural hubris, empire, violence, wealth and poverty, and yes, heterosexism.  We are living into the reality of God's reign, but it is far from fully realized.

2. Male and female are in-born, genetic categories of sex, as well as socially-constructed categories of gender.  Jew and Gentile are ritual-purity categories as well as cultural, linguistic and religious categories.  Slave and free are socially constructed, economic categories.  The point here is that none of these categories define us anymore, when we are made a new creation in Christ - neither in-born genetic differences, nor socially-constructed, nor ritual-purity, nor cultural, nor linguistic, nor theological, nor economic, etc. It would be foolish to assume, for example, that only literal Jews and Gentiles are to be included in the dissolution of cultural distinctions which separate us.  How much more so for biological and social distinctions?  The church has always assumed that these are categorical statements of equality and fellowship.

3. And yes, beyond 'male and female' to other in-born sexual identities and proclivities.  We have come a long way since Paul, but in many ways, we share his struggle, his excitement, and his blindness.  Let a few pieces of scale fall away, and let us ordain our brothers and sisters in Christ.


Alan said...

This is, in my opinion, the real killer argument against anti-gay discrimination in Reformed churches.

Unfortunately, too many of our brothers and sisters in the PCUSA have never fully embraced the Reformation and still cling to Catholic notions of clericism. (I get why a few MOWS in the PCUSA like the notion that they're better than everyone else, but I've never understood why any of the laity support that notion. Yet they do, and the irony is that the biggest support comes from a rag called the Layman.)

"But the priesthood of all believers" means just that. If people don't get that or don't like it, I'm sure the Catholic Church would be happy to welcome them.

Doug Hagler said...

I think that it comes down to scapegoating, honestly. The pastor is put on a pedestal - so that when the church isn't bulging with new young families, there's somebody to point to. This is extra ironic, given that in Presbyterian polity, the pastor has almost no real authority - all that is with the Session.

It's actually one of the worst aspects of Christianity, to me - people are often taught that it is sacred to wait for a savior to rescue them. It leads to a lot of waiting, and then disappointment, and blaming - in my observation, anyway.

But that's part of what happens when, theologically, Jesus' life and ministry are all but forgotten, when the focus is on how he saves us via penal substitutionary atonement. It all happens behind the curtain, and people can learn to expect everything to happen that way.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

On my blog, you asked me to email you, but I no longer use email. I pretend that all email has been destroyed and no longer exists as long as I keep ignoring it.

You may call me at 502-749-3346.