Yesterday, my twitter feed alerted me to this post on The Religious Left. In the article, the author came up with a scale, from 1 to 9, for where people in the (evangelical) church stood on GLBT issues. On the list, she specifically called out certain progressive leaders as being 7s or 8s (with 9s being the best). Now, the author was dismissive of those folks who are 7s or 8s (she wants everyone to be a 9). And, to be 100% clear, I don’t think the author is clear on her stance on the issue – mostly because the argument begins from a place of specifics (GLBT) and morphs into race, ethnicity, women as well – all valid arguments, all part of the same system, but I don’t consider all the issues as being the same because all use different measuring sticks to measure their success and these measuring sticks are, in part, developed from different historical realities for all groups. I also don’t think she understands the Episcopal Church that much either because there is no way that they are a 9 on her scale (I understand that some dioceses still do not ordain women). However, I think it is perfectly fine for her to have her opinion that some progressive Christians could be more progressive. Actually, progressive isn’t the right word. Rather, she’s saying that these Christians aren’t living up to the her standards when it comes to these issues. She’s busy breaking down the religious left (especially evangelicals), putting them on a scale, and saying “do more.” And I just love love love how upset this makes those Christians she named-drop. I love it. Why? Because it really does read, to me at least, that it’s a bunch of people saying “HOW DARE YOU SAY I’M NOT A 9!!” Really, that’s what it is. The author’s integrity is called out, her standards are judged inadequate, and some people claim that they are leaving in a huff, never to return. People try to defend themselves, they point to their other awards and status from other groups, and they call the author a toad because she has attacked their honor, integrity, and status. It’s quite fun really.
It is very obvious that the author used explosive language to make her point (I mean, she only brings up scripture when it comes to those who are 9’s). She was trying to make a point and upset people. She was trying to say that certain flag bearers for the cause aren’t really as special as they claim to be. She, from my vantage point, seemed to be arguing many things in a convoluted way – and it focuses down to frustration. She’s frustrated about the definition of inclusion being used and how the champions of the GLBT’s rights in the evangelical circles are not where she thinks they should be. I sense anger and disappointment. And you know what? That’s okay. After the actions in North Carolina last night and Colorado State House, it’s okay to be angry and disappointed right now. And I think it is perfectly fine to get in an argument and debate about what inclusion means and how it works. Did she use inflammatory language to make her point? To a degree, I think she did. Did she encourage debate? Maybe not. Do I think it is really silly how people responded to her in the comments? You betcha because it stopped being about the issue and became a question of status and symbol. If I (little ol’ seminarian) had appeared on that list as a seven or eight, I wouldn’t mind. I think that might be a good place to put me some days, though in some situations, I’ll become the biggest 9 you ever saw. Even though I’m part of a denomination that ordains partnered gays and lesbians, I intern at an Reconciling in Christ church, I go to a seminary that is 40% gay, and I consider myself active in increasing the diversity of not only ordained leaders but church lay leaders as well – I think a seven or eight would fit me just fine (though I’m not really at the place in my formation where I’m trying to play nice with Evangelicals). But I think I don’t mind because this isn’t a part of my social status quite yet. I don’t have many people seeing me and going “oh, he’s THAT kind of guy.” It’s not part of my identity or status or symbol of who I am to the outside world. If it was, I might want to be a 9. In fact, I might want to be a 9 on everyone’s list. But I know that’s never going to happen – and, you know, I’m okay with that too.