I have been reading Gandhi’s Autobiography and Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You: Christianity not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life. The latter helped inspire in Gandhi the power of non-violent resistance to injustice, even state-sanctioned injustice. Then I thought of my friend who wrote to me of the “spiritual violence” of the organized church against the GLBT community.
I had addressed in this blog physical violence against the GLBT community in the post of February 9, 2011, entitled, “Publications Concerning Hate Crimes Relating to Sexual Orientation.” The vast majority of the Christian community would not profess that their aversion to the GLBT community would justify criminal action against it. But how many of us do spiritual violence by denying that God loves and accepts them as they are; that they can reflect the love of God as we hopefully do; that we need them as much as they need us; that they have the right to fully participate in our church organizations, both spiritually and in leadership?
Is “righteous hatred” of the GLBT community consistent with the true spirit of Christ? Other than the obvious difference in social consequences, what really is the difference between physical violence and spiritual violence against another? To what degree do our churches see the GLBT community as a threat and respond by marginalizing or even exclude them from the social and the spiritual life of the church?
The established church in all its forms and manifestations has a heritage giving rise to its present state. Predominantly, it upholds the heritage that castigates members of the GLBT community, and it justifies that position by isolated biblical passages. Tolstoy addresses this persistent reign of unexamined heritage:
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow- witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
Have we used our heritage to justify our idolization of God in our own image? What are the fruits of our treatment of the GLBT community? Do they fall from the tree of life and God’s love for all? If the fruits are bitter for anyone, what shall we do with the tree that bears them?