“Love each other as the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other.”
31 years ago the UCC’s General Synod declared itself to be “open and affirming” and called upon all settings of the church to become similarly poised to welcome LGBT persons as full members of the church…we wanted, as a denomination, to honor each other for exactly who we were created to be.
Today the issue of supporting and uplifting and even simply welcoming LGBT folk is still at the forefront of many discussions within the Church, notice the capital ‘C’ meaning the wider body of Christ, as well as around our nation.
Even after 31 years there are UCC churches just now starting the conversation of becoming open and affirming (thanks autonomy), our Methodist sisters and brothers are having the debate around human sexuality at their General Conference (similar to our General Synod) right now, there are states creating and trying to create laws around the ‘issues’ of LGBT, there are big chain stores being boycotted for their stance for or against the LGBT community, but most importantly there are people that are feeling excluded from the basic human right of not being discriminated against (check out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created by the UN in 1948) because of who they are.
Now normally I would make the assumption that nearly everyone can recall a time when they were excluded for some reason or another and try to convince everyone that their own personal experience can be a spring board into understanding the need to advocate for our LGBT friends that are facing accutane pregnancy exclusive discrimination. BUT…it was recently pointed out to me that it doesn’t matter if we’ve felt excluded before because, news flash, it’s not about the proverbial ‘us’. Each person is divinely made in the image of God and is deserving of dignity and respect despite how well ‘we’ may or may not relate to them.
As Paul wrote to the Romans we are called to honor each other. And not just to honor each other, but to be the best at honoring each other.
So to take a position radically in favor of LGBT rights, like the Justice Department did this past week, is to say not only are we trying our best to honor you; but whether we can see it or not, even if what we see tells us otherwise, we will respect what you tell us about your identity and experience.
And not only are we doing our best to honor the identity and experience of our LGBT sisters and brothers when we take such a position; but it makes us also then claim that every person has the right to live in dignity and respect.
As a shout out to our Methodist colleagues as they pursue this topic of inclusion and love I share wise words from John Wesley who wrote: Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment. It is not only the first and great command but all the commandments in one.
May we find ways to radically love each other…to be the best at honoring one another as children created in the divine image of God.
—Rev. Samantha Houser, Conference Program Support/Adjunct Youth Ministry and pastor of Waukon Zion UCC