|Praise the Lord - The time has come – A manifesto to Let my people go|
15 Oct 2009 – Bishop John Shelby Spong gave a “A Manifesto!” entitled “The Time Has Come!” where he declared that the debate on homosexuality is over and he will not engage in dialogue with the right wing Christians as to dignify their arguments which he claims have lost credibility, and is dishonest, false, unlearned and filled with hatred and prejudice contrary to the Love of Christ. There is no middle ground of compromise to this prejudice and oppression by Christians in the name of God. In a dig at the Archbishop of Canterbury, he declared that Church unity should not be at the expense of sanctioning false rhetoric, oppression, and injustice against gays. The battle is over declared Spong and victory won as more and more states accept gay marriages. It is a call to move on, a manifesto by the Bishop against the church who has tried every means to come against gays through a tortured logic, hypocrisy, delusion, and self righteousness.
We have debated the issue of Homosexuality at length over the last 50 years. However, certain foundations are a taken and should never be subject to debate such as basic rights and freedoms, in this case the very existence, self respect, and dignity of GLBT people. The call to debate by the Christian Right is like a Robber coming into your home, insist on their right to your property because God told him so, and then graciously permits a dialogue for you to justify to him why it should not be so. A debate under such context is no debate but robbery and an insult to humanity and decent human behavior. When we recognized this and learn to say “no” to their Christian right agenda hidden under the cloak of religion, then it is the start of victory. A manifesto pasted on the church doors would be useless because they will not change, and will continue in their sins, for it has to be pasted on the foreheads of GLBT people so engraved in their minds as to not let this deception by the Christian Right go on any longer.
We are reminded of Moses coming before Pharaoh demanding to “let my people go”. Pharaoh tried to debate, to argue, to gain concessions and give reasons as why the Jews should not be released, but no, Moses would not have any other answer. “Let my people Go”, is the heart cry of leaders such as Bishop Spong, a direct challenge to the Pharaoh, a direct challenge to their modern day counterparts in the Christian Right. I believe it is a cry that is of God after the fiasco in Proposition 8, and now the several insidious attempts to stop the gay marriage in other states though outright lies and misinformation by the Christian Right. They will say “no” to gays, but just like Moses, the march has begun out of Egypt, the march has begun out of the closet to our promised land.
The Egyptian culture worshiped Frogs as a god. Egypt had a number of frog (or toad) gods and goddesses, like Hekat, the goddess of fertility. Therefore, when God warned of smiting Egypt with frogs, He is declaring and giving a sign that He is God far above the gods of Egypt. In the case of the Christian Right, the idol or god is not an external god, but is the god of self, the self righteousness within exalting themselves far above gays. They are worshipping their own sexuality and orientation until all their sins causing abortions, divorces and family breakdown is blamed upon the poor hapless gays. Perhaps, God will bring down the spiritual pride and religious hypocrisy of the Christian Right because they refuse to let Gay people come into the household of God to worship Him.
The Rev Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, commented “While the bishop's manifesto is written in the language of bravado, it actually represents an intellectual posture of surrender”. However, the posture of exiting does not mean surrender just as Moses marched out of Egypt disregarding the dialogue and the position of the Pharaoh. Exiting the debate does not mean intellectually losing the battle, but coming to the conclusion there is no point engaging in reason when the Christian Right who was not opened to religious or intellectual argument but instead rationalize their position as reason to justify causing harm, committing hate crimes, and telling lies against gays. Exiting the debate means that we no longer need permission to claim our acceptance of ourselves, to claim our God given dignity before men.
The manifesto is a pride march out the closet door which has opened ever wider in the last 30 years with information technology bringing knowledge and understanding that the bible does not condemn gays and give us a real sense of community that we are a tribe, a people group and not a mistake, with a self confidence and assurance to accept ourselves. There has been a greater insight and in-depth study of the clobber verses bringing light to their true meaning of the bible which was against the idol religious practices of the day with the gay sex committed by straight people to worship fertility goddess. It was not a judgment on Gay people.
Through the internet, we have become one nation. Our stories and walk of faith becomes interlinked, each urging the other to run the good race, and never give up hope. We may be 5% of the world population, but together, the voices of our tribe become louder and louder crowding out the voices of condemnation. In this final journey out from the closet of Egypt, the desperate cry of the Christian Fundamentalist, our slave owners, trying to put us back into the prison becomes a background noise no longer credible nor part of the conscious thought. The Christian Fundamentalist has fought hard to put gays in prison, but they have been at a losing end, and now faced with the prospect of total equality for GLBT in Gay marriages gaining increasing support across the nation. The victory is won, the victory is ours. It may not be ours yet, but surely God has been on our side for Jesus came to die for a People Like Us too, that we might see God just as the Jews marched out of Egypt to go to the mountain of God in the desert of Sinai.
In the not too distant future, the laws against homosexual sex will be decriminalized in most parts of the civilised world, and Gay marriage accepted in the States, Europe and Asian Tigers. The World would not end nor will everyone turn 'gay' contrary to the assertions by the Christian Fundamentalist. The Straight people will still continue to have divorces and abortion, but few would claim that gays caused them to do so. The World would go on. However, Gay parades would be held with fanfare and custumes in Jerusalem, Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai with some Christians holding placards to demonstrate against. Even Singapore, would not want to lose out and will dress the Merlion in pink and the Singapore Flyer will have rainbow colored lights for the Gay Parade.The debate on homosexuality and gay marriage would be a past, the church may continue blaming gays for the breakdown of straight families but few would listen to them. Perhaps the message of God’s love would not be accepted widely by the Gay community because the church had rejected and persecuted them in the name of Christ.
With the strong persecution by Christians against gays in Africa and Asia, where even being gay may put you in jail or be executed, the manifesto by Bishop Spong seems distant. America, the land of freedom, where this manifesto was birthed is a long way from the harsh realities of life. Yet, it was so 2000 years ago, in a small manger in Jerusalem, Jesus was born in Bethlehem that would day would shake the foundation of the then Roman Empire and unhindered through the passage of time. What has started in America, the message of change by Bishop Spong, is a spark that will continue to abounds throughout the nations, because Jesus Christ still lives today and works through people like us. The Gospel message of God's love and salvation has reached to the very ends of the earth, to the least - the most rejected nation on earth - the gay community. Let us praise the Lord and giving thanks, for the victory has been won. He/she whom Jesus declared as free, is free indeed.Let all creation sing praises to the King, even God's gay creation.