Shuck and Jive

Saturday, April 04, 2009

But South Louisiana Voted No

And that is the clincher, I am afraid. I held out for a win until it was pretty much mathematically impossible to do so. With the score 65-82, only five presbyteries are needed to defeat it. There are five presbyteries that have historically voted 'no' unanimously or nearly so still yet to vote.

Now, team, we play for pride.

Our motivation is first of all to change hearts and minds one by one. This is the opportunity to tell the stories and to witness to the inclusive love of the gospel by proclaiming the equality of all people.

We also play the spoiler.

What we want to spoil is the claim by the voices against equality that the church has 'decisively spoken four times with increasing margins, blah, blah, blah....'

We have spoiled that already. 25 presbyteries have switched from no to yes, and the margin within most presbyteries who have voted no has decreased. The "popular vote" is nearly equal. These are clear factors that the denomination is moving toward equality. There is no decisive voice. We are about dead even and everyday hearts and minds change for equality.

This means we need to make this presbytery vote as close as possible and perhaps win the 'popular vote.' All of that matters as we look ahead to 2010. Bruce Hahne
has a great analysis of all of this as well as commentary. He reminds us that we are in a marathon not a sprint.
‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”


  1. And it's that spoiling, John, which is harming the church.

  2. "And it's that spoiling, John, which is harming the church."

    Not so. The spoiling arises comes from the attitudes of sanctimony and self-righteousness of those in the church who would exclude others who peacefully seek an equal place at the table. John rabble-rouses for unity among all who would humbly identify themselves as God's children, and against those who presume their individual superiority.
    When Jesus consorted with the social undesirables, the Pharisee's were enraged that he would harm the church.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Fred at Rev's Rumbles linked and commented on my post. Fred is a good internet friend, a mentor, really.

    I posted a comment at his place that I will post here as well:

    Thanks for the link, Fred. I hesitated to make that post as I still want folks to vote and to witness in their presbyteries.

    I respect your decision, if that is the decision you make. I am no absolutist on whether folks should leave or stay. I trust folks make the decision that is right for them.

    I hang in there. It is not just optimism, though. There are lgbt people in every denomination, in every church, in every family (including in those of the Presbyterian Coalition).

    It is those denominations that are not even talking about equality, except to inflict spiritual violence on lgbt people, for which I am most heartbroken.

    In other words, it is bigger than denominational votes. It is about equality and hope for lgbt people, their family and friends, everywhere.

    I am disappointed in the vote, to be sure. But I am not disappointed in the witness which continues.

  5. Let's not forget that it took several tries for us to include women in the ministry in the 1950s.

    This has taken time, and it will take more time. But as MLK preached, "How long? Not long."

    I absolutely believe we will look back on this vote as the last of this era. Next time it'll pass. And I say with certainly there will definitely be a next time. Trust me on that.

    This ends when we decide to end it and not before.

  6. Alan,

    As usual, you put the right perspective on this. Thanks for the uplift!

  7. I respectfully disagree, Rastus. However, it appears that your own sanctimony and self-righteousness is also showing.

  8. You may be right, Stushie. This may be harming the church. It may be best for the church if everything stayed the way it should be for those who are comfortably in power in the church. However, it's the people who are not comfortably in power in the church, the people who are not even in the church, who are ultimately harmed the most.

  9. The political and cultural divide in the PCUSA closely mirrors the political and cultural divide in the USA. We have only just begun. It's Holy week. Jesus was crucified. He lives!

    As Martin Luther King Jr said: "Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." -- Martin Luther King, Jr. (the speech containing this famous quote is found at

    love, john +

  10. This will never be "over," brothers and sisters. No matter how the vote goes this time or next time, we are stuck with each other. What would happen if we stopped trying to drive each other out, and tried to find a way to live together-- even though we will never agree? Wouldn't that be a better way to spend the time and treasure that we have been blessed with?

  11. Clay,

    I agree completely. I have no desire to drive anyone out and neither does anyone I know who supports ordination of LGBT folks in the church.

  12. The spoiling arises comes from the attitudes of sanctimony and self-righteousness of those in the church who would exclude others who peacefully seek an equal place at the table. John rabble-rouses for unity among all who would humbly identify themselves as God's children, and against those who presume their individual superiority

    The central truth in all these discussions is: Liberals Lie.

    The comment above lays out the basic agrument on the GLBT side - but its a lie.

    Reformed faith abohors sanctimony and self-righteousness - but it expects purity and holiness.

    Reformed faith is wide open to all based on God's promise in Scripture "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Ro 10:13 & Joel 2:32) This is in perfect harmony with Jesus' warning, "But unless you repent, you too will perish." Lk 13:3).

    The reason GLBT arguments are framed in relationship is because our emotions may mislead and betray us. The reason GLBT arguments never arise from Scripture is because the truth does not support their conclusions.

    Ad Hominem attacks work in your favor, sophistry works in your favor, scripture twisting works in your favor. But an honest discussion of the Reformed understanding of sin, repentance, and holiness does not.

    The Liberal/Progressive wing of the church seems intent on having their own way in spite of the witness of the Gospel of Truth. This is not a new struggle for the Church, its just the next chapter in the old, old story.

    But if sin should ever be officially enshrined as the polity of the PC(USA),it would mean that the denomination has ceased to be the Church. The day may come, but it will not be a day for rejoicing.

  13. Sin?

    Against it.
    Bearing false witness against LGBT people--sin.

    Promoting laws that discriminate and degrade a particular class of people--sin.

    Liberals Lie
    Evidence for that?

    Maybe Rick Warren is a liberal

  14. Heh. You beat me to it John. One can only imagine the twisting and rationalization Mr/Mrs REformed would have to go through to try to excuse Warren's lies... caught on tape.

    But Warren's lies are only the most recent. Witness the so-called conservative liars in any state that has passed an anti-gay marriage amendment. They say that it's only about marriage, not domestic partnerships, not partner benefits. Then of course, once those anti-gay laws are passed, they're in court the next day seeking to eliminate partnership benefits.

    It happened in Michigan, and now it's happened in several other states.

    The supporters of Prop 8 in California said they wouldn't go after the 18,000 marriages that were performed in that state prior to the passage of the amendment.

    They lied.

    These are facts. We've got them on tape. We've got their quotes. Mr/Mrs "Reformed in Herrin" has nothing but ad hominem attacks, (not to mention a rather unReformed works-based righteousness argument.)

    This so-called "Reformed" (I'm not sure that means what you think it means) person lies when he/she says that our arguments about justice, equality, and inclusion "never" arise out of Scripture. Never? Really!? We've got books full of 'em. Ever heard of a guy named Jack Rogers? And that's just one example.

    And what's Mr/Mrs "Reformed" got? Snake oil:

    Oooooh! We've got trouble my friends! With a capital T and that rhymes with G and that stands for GAY! (trouble! trouble! trouble!)

    Feh. Hucksters, con artists and flim-flam men. Give it up, Professor Hill, no one's buying what you're selling any more. Oh, and we'll keep our pool table too, thank you very much. ;)

  15. FYI, even more lies from marriage opponents:

  16. John Shuck wrote, "I have no desire to drive anyone out and neither does anyone I know who supports ordination of LGBT folks in the church."

    At one level, *no one* has a desire to drive anyone out of the church. While nobody's perfect, I believe both sides of this debate are well populated by people who fervently hope we could all embrace the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, they have opposite understandings of just what that gospel is. While I believe the best leaders on both sides don't want to drive people out of the church, neither are they willing to compromise the call of Jesus Christ just to keep people in.

    As John Burkhart at McCormick used to say, there is no concept of inclusion that does not include a sense of exclusion. Once you say "we believe this," you exclude those who believe that.

    Once you say homosexuality is part of the rainbow of God's good creation, you exclude those who believe homosexuality is one of the consequences of the fall from God's good creation. By the same token, once you say homosexuality is something the call of the gospel is to be forgiven and healed from homosexual practices, you exclude those who believe they have no need to be forgiven or healed from them.

    It's not that one is trying to drive the other out. It's that both are trying to be faithful to the call of Jesus Christ. The trouble is they can't both be right. The path to peace in this is for people to start to see each other as someone simply trying to follow Jesus, for people to start to respect each other as faithful disciples, even if they can't affirm what each other believes.

  17. You're right, PJ. The one is not trying to drive the other out. It's trying to KEEP the other out.

    That's really all there is to it, from what I see.
    "Let us in"
    "OK. But you have to lie to get in."
    "But we don't want to lie. We don't want you to lie, either. We want us both to be in."
    "Sorry. No can do. Knock on the door again when you're ready to lie, and we'll think about letting you in, then."

  18. "It's not that one is trying to drive the other out. "

    Actually it is. Read any number of posts from our more conservative members and you'll see a number of "take your stuff and go" appeals, suggestions, and yes, even demands. A good number of them want us out. Period.

    They've even proposed overtures to that effect. And if we don't go? They want us to shut up. that's not hyperbole, that's not rhetoric, that's not melodrama, that's not even my interpretation. It's what they actually say out there on their blogs.

    I wish it were true that we all want what's best for everyone, but have different visions for what that means. But that simply isn't true at all, and wishing it were the case doesn't make it so.

  19. Alan wrote, "Read any number of posts from our more conservative members and you'll see a number of 'take your stuff and go' appeals, suggestions, and yes, even demands."

    Admitted, but I'm also sure most of them would much rather have you stay… if only you would embrace the gospel -- as they see it.

    In principle, it's just the same as the situation after Maxwell V. Pittsburgh established ordination of women as a norm in the UPCUSA. There were a number of appeals from church leaders to those who couldn't embrace the standard to "take your stuff and go." Actually the appeals were *leave* your stuff and go, but the "go" principle is the same.

    I'm sure Bill Thompson and crew would have much rather seen the conservatives stay. But the idea that God calls women and men to ministry had become the standard, and people either had to get with the standard or get out. Some people chose to compromise and stay, some chose to hold to their principles and went -- mostly to start the EPC, IIRC, but some also to join the PCA or take some other status.

    And there is no reason to expect that if the standard changes to "God calls both gays and straights to ministry" there will be any different result. Is the idea that God calls both gays and straights a more negotiable idea than that God calls both women and men? Do people believe one more seriously than the other? I don't think so.

    The church wouldn't compromise the gospel on the ordination question of the 70s, and by and large people think that was a good decision. There has been peace on the question: PCUSA GAs are not paralyzed by continual strategies to change or efforts to maintain the ordination standard. A few congregations had to leave, but the rest quickly found a unity on the question. (The PUP task group didn't feel led to reopen the question, though at one point it looked like they might…)

    It is not paranoia but simply learning the lessons of history that leads conservatives to expect one day they'll be encouraged to leave the PC, should the ordination standard change.

    And having seen and felt how colleagues were urged to get with the movement of the Spirit in the 70s, though, I can appreciate how painful the similar appeals today can feel.