“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
Fear is of the devil! It comes about when one does not trust God to know what He’s doing with one’s life, regardless if that person understands his or her life-circumstances or not.
I believe that God has called out GLBT people and their friends in our day, in this generation, to be a witness (martyr) to the Church and secular worlds. We are to speak out in a rule-obsessed Church, in a society that finds a payoff in marginalizing and demonizing us.
The above verse of Scripture puts it up front: we are not to be afraid as we are members of God’s family. One’s sexual orientation is not listed as a condition of this adoption. Indeed, there are no conditions listed regarding our adoption into God’s family.
He chose us to be in Him before the worlds were formed (Ephesians 1:4) and imputed to us a righteousness, a holiness, that we could never obtain on our own. This phenomenon, God’s imputation to His children the traits of righteousness and holiness, is what is called “prevenient grace.” That is, God chose us; we didn’t choose Him. He loved us first while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8) and adopted us into His family.
As God’s children, we are to be warriors for God’s gospel of love, grace, faith, and inclusiveness. That Gospel is to be heralded throughout the whole world: Jesus saves, no buts attached!
Warriors aren’t to entangle themselves in the affairs of this world by caring what other people think about them. They aren’t here to allow others to define their reality for them or put them into bondage to their ways of thinking.
We are here to show forth a mirror to the world, or our small part of the world in regard to family, friends, and acquaintances, of the love of Christ. That is our major task!
We are to use what abilities God has given us to see that this Gospel message goes forth unhindered! To enable us to do this God-ordained task, God has given us His Holy Spirit to indwell us and give us the words to use in seeing that this battle for full inclusion in every aspect of society and its institutions is realized.
God doesn’t want cowards in this war! He doesn’t want His soldiers to be overtaken by self-doubt, recriminations, guilt, and the stings and barbs of others!
Being a wimp is not an option in battle! And we are to make no mistake: we are in a battle for the life of the Church and the Gospel’s permeation in God’s institution and in the society at large.
God has given GLBT people a great gift in this present hour! That gift is embodied within each person to be as God’s oracle, God’s messenger, to those who are blinded by hate, fear, cowardice, and traditions that make void the Word of God.
God didn’t put us on this earth to be mere inauthentic ciphers who “go along with the program.” He put us here as members of His family to be authentic, to be truly ourselves, to be proud (not haughty) of who we are as members of His body. His body is His family and GLBT people are every bit as precious to God as is anyone else.
It took guts for slavery to be abolished! It took guts to fight for integration of African-Americans! It took guts to fight for women’s right to vote! It took guts to fight for women’s right to be in the corporate and professional worlds!
Freedom and acceptance are rarely given as free will offerings, except by God! Only God unconditionally accepts us for who we are-warts and all! Even our families have certain expectations of our behavior and want us to behave in conformity with those expectations. They may love us no matter what we do, but they may well be disappointed in us if we don’t adhere to their agendas for our lives.
God has already made His agenda for our lives and has seen it fulfilled before His eyes! He lives in eternity and sees the beginning from the end and, unlike us, sees that this battle has already been won.
On this earth, it will be won by God’s people who step up to the plate, girding themselves with the armor appropriate for spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18) not fearing the enemy. To courageously engage in this warfare, we must be spiritually intact.
To be spiritually intact entails recognizing the fact that nothing happens to the child of God unless God causes it to happen or allows it to happen. It also entails recognizing that the happening has already occurred in the spiritual realm of existence. As the Psalmist says, “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.”
Just as God spoke the worlds into existence, He spoke full inclusion of GLBT people, African-Americans, women, and all of His children into the life of the Church. Gay marriage, both in the Church and secular worlds, will be a reality in the lifetime of many of you who are reading this article!
However, for full inclusion to become a reality “on earth as it is in heaven,” we must stand for the truth of God’s Word. We must show forth God’s righteousness, spread the Gospel of peace, and have faith in God to know that He knows what He’s doing. We must trust in God’s grace, and stand up to the school yard bully, whether or not he or she wears a clerical collar.
To engage in the warfare necessary for full inclusion, one can’t indulge in feelings of shame and guilt. There’s a war to be won and each of us is to act like the whole war rests on what we each individually do in this battle.
There is no place here for cowards!
Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society,” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. Maneker also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.