Over the past very successful ten years, “Whosoever” has been at the forefront in emphasizing the fact that Christianity and homosexuality are certainly not inconsistent with each other. Indeed, the point has been satisfactorily settled innumerable times that one can be LGBT and be a Christian; many articles dealing with the “clobber passages,” showing how they do not condemn LGBT people, or even have anything to do with “homosexuality” as we currently understand that term, have been written and are easily accessible in “Whosoever’s” archives and elsewhere. Indeed, much of my and others’ writings for this magazine and in other venues have emphasized these points: the Bible doesn’t condemn same-sex relationships, but actually affirms them; the often repeated lies that God hates gays, that the Bible condemns LGBT people, that homosexuality is inherently disordered or evil, and that gay people can change their sexual orientation, are lies propounded by people many of whom have a prejudiced-driven agenda that also garners them psychological, social, political, and material gain.
“Whosoever” has been in the vanguard of affirming LGBT people and showing in so many ways, through biblical exegeses, coming out stories, rebuttals in the Letters to the Editor section to those who erroneously think that the Bible condemns LGBT people and same-sex relationships, and the many other features of the magazine, that LGBT people can be just as “Christian” as anyone else; “Whosoever” has been eminently successful in dismissing and refuting destructive stereotypes and removing both seemingly credible and incredible “justifications” for LGBT people to be denied full sacramental and civil rights in the Church and in society, particularly when they are propagated “in the name of God” or because “the Bible says so.” Enough has been written showing how the Bible does not condemn LGBT people and same-sex relationships that it is high time to add to these dimensions of our writing. Indeed, if people still have doubts about the necessity that LGBT people must have full sacramental and civil rights, there are now plenty of sources to which they can now turn, much of which are in the archives of “Whosoever,” to lay aside their prejudices, if they are spiritually and intellectually honest with themselves and with others.
Now, what is to be done in the context of “Whosoever” to even further the cause of sacramental and civil rights for LGBT people, and all of God’s children? It seems to me that “Whosoever,” in addition to the qualities that have made it invaluable to so many people over the past ten years, can also become a literary catalyst and conduit for the various organizations that are fighting for the rights of LGBT people so that they can even further become organized, disciplined, and activist in educating and mobilizing clergy, legislators, judges, politicians, and the general public as to the need to grant civil liberties to all of our citizens through articles and dialogue concerning assorted options to better achieve that goal. “Whosoever” might well add to its mission writing and audio concerning the need for political activism within and outside of the Church, by encouraging articles and interviews dealing with strategy and tactics that will both educate people in becoming more politically astute as well as emboldening LGBT people and their allies to take direct political action to fight for sacramental and civil liberties for LGBT people and their relationships. “Whosoever” can lend its credibility and acumen to act as a literary conduit for the many LGBT rights organizations that now exist (albeit at the present time largely and, unfortunately, largely independent of each other), thereby helping them to coordinate their activities so as to maximize the potential for realizing the goals of full sacramental and civil rights for LGBT people and their relationships within the foreseeable future.
Simply put, “Whosoever” can be part of a movement that coordinates, through writings from, and consultation with, many of its contributors, such efforts as systematic boycotts against homophobic organizations; reveal the inconsistencies and often cynical opportunism of politicians’ homophobic utterances; discuss the self-serving “agendas” of many clergy who espouse ignorant and even hateful rhetoric from their pulpits, while we continue to hammer home the only Gospel to be found in Christianity: the Gospel of grace (God’s unmerited favor to us), faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances), love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness; present scientific evidence showing why there is a “perceived need” by many for discrimination against assorted minority groups; show the underpinnings of assorted “religious” attempts to use LGBT people as convenient targets to persecute, making them scapegoats and diversions for the sexual and other scandals that rock one or more religious and political institutions in our society; show how LGBT civil rights are inextricably tied to the civil rights of every person in society, in that when one group’s rights are abridged or denied, any other group’s rights can be similarly abridged or denied; present sociological, psychological, and financial data showing how advocacy of discrimination handsomely pays off for the dominant group, some politicians, and their “religious” compatriots, in society. In order for us to effect needed sacramental, social, and political change within the Church and society, our writing and dialogue must now increasingly emphasize not only the fact that God loves LGBT people too, but also focus on needed tactics and strategies to better combat discrimination against, and oppression of, LGBT people and their relationships.
Writing, dialogue, and activism are essential to move forward the establishing of full sacramental and civil rights for LGBT people! That writing and dialogue must now, in addition to articles regarding “self-defense” and the exhortation to accept oneself as she or he has been created by God (as more than sufficient resources regarding those issues now exist, thanks in large part to “Whosoever”), should also feature writings and dialogue about the fundamental reasons for the existence of discrimination against LGBT people and their relationships in the first place; discussion and dialogue in “Whosoever” with assorted leaders and members of LGBT religious and secular civil rights organizations concerning the appropriate tactics and strategies needed to effect the needed changes in the religious, social, attitudinal, and political arenas of our society that will likely make full LGBT equality a reality within the foreseeable future. This latter mission might well be best served by incorporating in the magazine a blog, perhaps entitled, “Whosoever’s Dialogue Blog,” that would enable the sharing of such ideas in real time, thus further engaging its readers and contributors, and discussing as many ideas as possible in our efforts to make full sacramental and civil rights for LGBT people a reality. To sum up, “Whosoever” can and will continue to be as viable and necessary as it has been for the past ten years! It must continue to emphasize that God’s love is unconditional and that God loves all of His children; continue to remove any seeming “justification” for internalized or externalized homophobia, with their consequent shame and self-loathing that often lead to suicide, and bashing and murder; through articles, and a blog, serve as a major venue for the coordination of, and consultation regarding, ideas, tactics, and strategies concerning needed religious, social, and political activism suggested by “Whosoever’s” contributors as well as by people in the disparate religious and secular organizations that seek to acquire full sacramental and civil rights for LGBT people; educate people as to the sociological, psychological, political, and financial underpinnings that largely determine why LGBT people are discriminated against in the first place; continue to hammer home the Gospel message of grace, and that the polarizing poison of the false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion, that has all too often been propagated by assorted clergy and televangelists, and has been in ascendancy, has no place in Christianity. Moreover, we are to emphasize the fact that there is a definite nexus between discrimination against LGBT people and their relationships, and the health and viability of the Church and of democracy itself!
God bless Candace Chellew and “Whosoever” for all the lives they have touched and undoubtedly saved over the past ten years and for the countless lives they will undoubtedly touch and save in the years to come!
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.