In case you missed it, the Labour Day weekend played out on the streets of Calgary to the sights and sounds of joyful participants and onlookers, marching and carrying rainbow coloured flags. Thousands showed up for Calgary’s Annual Pride Parade. And because this event unfolds, usually without incident, year after year, we have become rather complacent about it.
We have made the erroneous assumption that the struggle for human rights for our LBGTQ community has been won.
During the worship service that I conducted at Knox on Sunday, August 31st, on parade day, I was rudely awakened to the stark reality that this is simply not true. It was a typical Sunday morning worship time—lots of good music, some prayers and the commissioning of our participants in the Pride Parade. At the close of the sermon (which focused on the need for our society to break down the barriers which separate us from loving one another) an older gentleman rose up and began to denounce our community for failing to repent from our sinful ways.
He reminded us that we were not preaching a gospel of repentance and that there would be dire consequences for such actions. He pointed his finger directly at me and roundly criticized me for my dismissal of many parts of the Bible as dangerous to women, dangerous to homosexuals, dangerous to those with mental health issues, dangerous to anyone who does not fit prescribed categories.
After his denouncement of us, he scurried out the door, and immediately began to speak on his “smart” phone. I suspect that he was reporting back to the persons or the group that had sent him out in the first place. Mission accomplished! We had been put in our place and God had been vindicated. Sadly, he became, for me, a living example of precisely why we cannot fall into complacency with regard to important human rights issues.
I have served the church for most of my adult working life. I have studied church history with all of its horrific actions toward marginalized groups. I have heard the thundering pronouncements made from pulpit and lecturn about the fires of hell and the consequences of sinful behaviour. And I have been saddened in heart and mind to realize that the church has become the biggest stumbling block to human rights for our LBGTQ community in the country.
The foundation of Jesus’ ministry here on earth was this: “You are to love your God with all your heart and you are to love your neighbour as yourself.”
Simple and straightforward, but so hard to live! Approximately 20 members of our faith community at Knox, undeterred by the ranting of one man on a Sunday morning, stood tall and marched into the streets, flourishing the rainbow flag, and proclaiming the power of love.
Bravo! The work continues!
by Linda Hunter