The vision that I suspect religious groups really fear…

I would recommend you read this whole post from Brian McLaren, where he responds to someone who has decided they can no longer consider themselves his ally because of his acceptance of homosexuality. It is sad, affectionate, understanding, gentle and accepting. I’ve never heard of him before in my life, and despite not considering myself to be a Christian of any stripe—I’m of the Gandhian “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians” school—I like this guy. He demonstrates in this response those attributes I would wish to be able to embody myself.

And then there comes the penultimate paragraph, that—from my observation point outside of any religious group, Christian or otherwise—seems to me to cut to the heart of why such groups throughout the ages end up being so petty and unkind:

You ask, if we change our way of interpreting the Bible on this issue (my words, not yours) “- what else will happen next?” Here’s what I hope will happen. After acknowledging the full humanity and human rights of gay people, I hope we will tackle the elephant in the room, so to speak – the big subject of poverty. If homosexuality directly and indirectly affects 6 – 30% of the population, poverty indirectly and directly affects 60 – 100%. What would happen if we acknowledged the full humanity and full human rights of poor people? And then people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses and impairments? And then, what after that? What would happen if we acknowledged the spiritual, theological, moral value – far beyond monetary or corporate value – of the birds of the air, the flowers of the field, of seas and mountains and valleys and ecosystems? To me, Jesus’ proclamation of the reign or commonwealth of God requires us to keep pressing forward, opening blind eyes, setting captives free, proclaiming God’s amazing grace to all creation.

That is a vision that, at some rational level, should scare the crap out of anyone. If you’re not intimidated by that idea—of making a categorical choice to love, respect and care for everything—then I can only say that I don’t think you’ve really thought about what it entails.

You have few choices if this is what your religion is building up to, and only one of them—owning up, doing the work, accepting your failures and the failures of others, getting up dusting yourself off and doing it again—is going to leave you a healthy, happy human being. All of the rest of them seem to me to lead to trying to draw arbitrary lines where you say, “We don’t have to care about them“, or “They don’t deserve it”…and once you’ve done that, you’ve impoverished your soul. That’s not a state I think anyone wants to come face to face with.