Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's a Good Fight: Take It On

Presbyterians are all a gabbin' about the recent PJC decision, what it means, and what to do now.

Witherspoon (represented pictorially by our lovely heroine)

has links to responses by Eugene TeSelle, Covenant Network, More Light Presbyterians, and even (dare I be so humble) me(!) regarding this decision.

The LayMAN (represented pictorially by this bellicose braggadocio)

has also written typical right-wing reactionary drivel.

The 14 dollar and 39 cent question is this: Did the 20 fine folks who drafted the Theological Task Force recommendations want what the PJC handed down?

One of the Task Force members, Mark Achtemeier, says no. The PJC did not deliver what the TTFers intended. So he is sending forth an overture to GA to tidy up that bit of confusion. H/T Toby. Despite Toby's decree that Prof. Achtemeier is not an evangelical (I guess that is an insult), the good professor sent it in anyway.

The Theological Task Force is reaping what it has sown. They told the fundies, "Nothing has changed. Don't worry. The constitution will still protect you from gay cooties." Then they told the progressives, "Great news! Now you can sneak all of those gay folks in!"

I am thinking that it is a good thing the PJC made this decision as heartbreaking as it is. G-6.0106b has got to go. Slavery had to go. The ban on women's ordination had to go. Institutionalized heterosexual prejudice has got to go. Wake up moderates. Wake up progressives. We know what we have to do.

The fundies have shown they are unwilling to compromise. For them, if one gay gets in without a spanking, then the whole denomination is infested with cooties. Their Bibles, while large, are not big enough for that. There can be no compromise for them. The Word of God is at stake.

We shouldn't be disappointed about this. We shouldn't get down on ourselves about this conflict. It is OK to fight. It is what we do best. Let us honor it. People get the mistaken illusion that Jesus would like us all to be really nice to each other and not raise issues of disagreement. Read the Gospels! He was one tough scrapper.

We are doing the larger culture a favor by fighting over this issue in church. Oddly enough, this is our mission in this time. It isn't just about gays. It is about freedom. It is about embracing change. It is about whether or not (as one of my favorite's wrote) whether the church will change or die.

I am honored to fight for lgbt justice. When I see the pain experienced by and the violence performed against my friends, neighbors, and parishioners, I know that this is a noble cause. I will gladly fight against any right wing blowhard who tries to put down my brothers and sisters.

When you mess with my friends, it is personal. Homosexuality is NOT a sin. Denying ordained office to gays is the same as regarding them as second class citizens. I will fight for lgbt justice in the church and in culture until I am dead. Then I will come back and haunt your ass.


  1. On behalf of us second-class citizens, bless you, Reverend Shuck!

  2. Personally I thought the PJC did exactly what the PUP report said, and I think this new overture doesn't really do much.

    (BTW, I *love* how every evangelical who disagrees with the fundie group-think gets labeled an ex-evangelical. Jack Rogers, Mark Achtemeier, etc. Must sting for the fundies to see their intellectual and theological heavy-weights jumping ship.)

    Plank once said of science, "Change happens one funeral at a time." Let's hope things go slightly faster for the church (change, I mean, not the funerals.)

    We could get these changes even more quickly if we could just get the fundies to leave faster. Good lord they're like the in-laws visiting during Christmas. (That's a metaphor, btw, I love my in-laws ... or out-laws as we call them.)

  3. I read the Witherspoon note from Paul C. and was moved by his distress. It strikes me that Paul suffers, but he does so in the light of knowing who he is, while those who persecute him know neither who they are, or why they hate, or even that they hate.

  4. It is a good fight. Your comment about the church being called to fight this one out is one of the wiser things you've said lately.

  5. Good for you John. This whole mess surrounding gays in the church reminds me of the old saying, "If you want peace then work for justice."

  6. Sadly, I think the root of the problem is in differing perspectives on scripture. Someone with an Evangelical view of the Bible, quite frankly, is not ethically or communally compatible with someone whose view of scripture is better-informed.

  7. "Sadly, I think the root of the problem is in differing perspectives on scripture."

    I respectfully disagree. In my opinion this is a line often used by the fundies as propaganda. What they mean when they say it is: "We have different perspectives on scripture. We fundies think it's important, you liberals ignore whatever you want." I'm not suggesting that's what you mean, Chris, but I do think it's false either way.

    It is absolutely possible to take completely orthodox views of Scripture, seeing it as the unique and authoritative Word of God, to believe it's infallible (but not inerrant) -- in other words, traditionally Reformed and Presbyterian views of Scripture -- and still come to the correct conclusions about justice, fairness, equality, and love.

    This is just an excuse the fundies use to try to disparage liberals as Biblical anarchists, to change the subject. It's another one of their weapons of mass distraction. We shouldn't let them. Nor should we excuse their bigotry simply because some of us liberals may hold different views of Scripture than they do.

    side note: I don't use fundamentalist and evangelical as synonyms. I think real evangelicals are pretty rare these days, but many of them (ie. Jack Rogers, et. al.) are actually on our side.

  8. One of the problems with in-laws is that they're still family. As my grandfather puts it (bless his heart), "you don't just marry a woman, you marry her entire family". As an only child who married the youngest of thirteen, he learned this the hard way.

    As much as the hardline conservatives bother me, I'm still troubled by the prospect of schism. It's never healthy and never amicable. I'm honestly torn on this now. I think the PCUS was right to forge ahead with ordaining women and supporting the Civil Rights Movement even in the face of schism, but it was a nasty divorce.

    Guess I better start steeling myself. I suppose the conservatives think that staging a huge political battle over church property will make people just rush in the doors of Presbyterian churches, begging to become members.


  9. BTW, I have it on very good authority from someone high up in TAMFS and Covenant that Jack Rogers advised Covenant that the next step is to get B repealed--compromise won't work now.

  10. "As much as the hardline conservatives bother me, I'm still troubled by the prospect of schism. It's never healthy and never amicable. "

    I agree. And in an ideal world the liberals and the conservatives, the social gospel types and the born-agains, would all realize they need each other, that they provide a useful check and balance to the strengths and weaknesses of the others' views.

    I'd be happy for the fighting to be over, if people would realize that it is actually possible to remain in communion with someone, even if you only agree with them 95% of the time (and if people would step back for a moment, they'd realize that we really do agree on 95% of what we believe.) Unfortunately, the fundies have drawn the line in the sand and are determined to split the denomination. After trying to propose overtures that would allow liberals to leave and then seeing that wasn't going to happen, the fundies are now trying to leave instead, even as they try to make the contradictory argument that they're the ones being faithful. As idealistic as I'd like to be, the pragmatist in me says that at some point we need to realize that the bickering just isn't worth it.

    "the next step is to get B repealed--compromise won't work now."

    I don't mean this to be disrespectful of Jack Rogers, CovNet, or TAMFS, but all I got to say to that is, "Well, duh!" As far as I've seen so far though, CovNet hasn't been pushing the Delete B overtures, and it doesn't look like TAMFS is in much shape to do so these days either, unfortunately.

  11. "As idealistic as I'd like to be, the pragmatist in me says that at some point we need to realize that the bickering just isn't worth it."

    I think it is time for a Tammy Wynette song...

  12. Chris,

    Not for me. I think our unity is in Christ, around the gospel, not in one particular interpretation of Scripture.

  13. John, for a sec I thought it'd be "Stand By Your Man".