CONTENT WARNING: SPEAKING TRUTH to POWER, LABELS, Q-word
I find it interesting that the persons I’ve heard who insist there isn’t any difference between the Left and the Right, between Liberals and Conservatives, have so far always been white men who are (seemingly) cisgender. The most recent statement I’ve encountered occurred in a sermon I heard over the weekend.
The allegation had been made that Conservative Christian theology and Liberal Christian theology are, in essence, two sides of the same coin if not actually the same. The preacher, whom I’m choosing to not name, stated that both sides are very concerned with rules and dogma. And yet, I’ve yet to encounter a Liberal Christian church that has said that trans persons like myself aren’t welcome. I fully accept the possibility that they exist, but I haven’t encountered them yet. While at the same time, there are seminarians in my cohort at PSR who have challenged not only my fitness to be a minister because of my gender and orientations, but also my fitness to be Christian. And before you ask the answer is, “No, these persons are not by any stretch of the word liberal.” My places at seminary and the communion table have only been questioned by those who can be described, self-described at times, Conservative Christians.
The most important problem with what this weekend’s preacher said was that he made a blanket statement, failing to take into consideration variances. If he had qualified his words, saying something like, “There are those Conservative and Liberal theologies that are very similar, treating each other as the Other,” I would probably would not have made this blog post. But rather than allow for difference, he made blanket statements regarding both sides.
I will not make a blanket statement regarding Conservative Christian theology in general. That said, my experience thus far has been that this group of theologies is far more exclusive than Liberal theology. Furthermore, I’m certain I’m not the only Liberal (or Progressive) theologian who would welcome into my sacred space and to my communion table my “enemies.” No. Though it would be tempting to exclude them, it would be theologically incorrect. At the same time, it’s worth noting that my friend and mentor, Rev. Gina Pond, has advised, “Radical inclusion doesn’t mean no boundaries.”
National Coming Out Day was this past Sunday and Matthew Shepherd Day was yesterday. If a Liberal church were to celebrate these things, how would the rabidly anti-queer and anti-trans be welcomed into such a service? True, such persons have a place at the communion table in general, but if they are actively attempting to disrupt and oppress others can they be allowed to take a place among the oppressed?
There are times when the boundaries do not exist to make the opposition feel like they are the Other, but rather to protect those who are repeatedly beaten down, metaphorically and literally.