Sometimes in the struggle for equality, social justice, the end of spiritual abuse and persecution, I wonder...why even bother? What's the point? Because it gets so hard when you are forced to constantly be on the defensive. It's difficult when you are put you in a position where you HAVE TO explain or justify your very existence to people who refuse to believe that what they know isn't all there is to know about God or the human experience. It gets hard when you are being hit with traditional, legalistic, right wing doctrine and rhetoric which has been accepted and embraced as the Will of God.
While in my private worship time, asking these questions, and pondering this very issue, God answered me. He brought to mind people like Moses, Jesus Christ, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Bayard Rustin, Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and countless others who struggled for the equality of all people. God made me realize that when they were in their struggle for equality, they weren't just thinking of themselves and their families...they were thinking of ME. The freedom that I enjoy today is because of their sacrifice and struggle. The freedoms that I have yet to enjoy, I am able to fight for because of them. God called to my attention those who refused to let the fallacy of "separate but equal" be "God's will" for their lives. It is because of their legacy that I am here today. It is my responsibility to not forget the price my ancestors paid for my liberty. When I asked God "why?" He simply said, "how dare you disrespect their legacy." That's when I realized that I could not really enjoy my freedom while those who are like me silently suffer in bondage. They are a part of me. I simply cannot live my life and not do something to try to eradicate the suffering of my own people.
The other thing that troubles me, is the realization that we (African-Americans) have adopted the very religious attitude and thought that was used to dehumanize us (now this is gonna get a little sticky, so just follow me for a minute). Back in the days of slavery, the white man (who was said to be Christian) believed it was "God's Will" for black people to be their slaves. And they used the Bible as their justification. Let's look at Leviticus 25:44-46...
"However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.
You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated that way." -- (New Living Translation)
...THAT'S WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS. It's in the text! And the slave masters believed it...AS IT WAS WRITTEN! They used this very scripture (and ones like it) to strip African people of their families, their culture, their religion, and their worship, their understanding of and relationship with God, and beat them into slavery. They presumed the Africans to be evil and stupid because they didn't speak English. And figured the LEAST they could do for them was make sure their souls were saved by indoctrinating them into Christianity. In fact, they felt the "evil heathens" could at least be "saved" even if they were only slaves. Sooner or later, the Africans (under extreme abuse) turned their backs on their own culture...their own religion and accepted the very religion that was used to enslave them. Now, hundreds of years later, that same travesty and injustice is going on, and in the same manner. The Bible is being used to dehumanize people who are seen as "evil heathens" and even worse, those who were once slaves have become the slave masters.
It is amazing to me that African-American Christians who know discrimination and hatred so intimately, can study the very scriptures like Leviticus 25:44-46, disprove its validity as it relates to the enslavement of people today, yet use THAT SAME BIBLE to preach discrimination and hatred as it relates to people who are not exactly like them. How is it that African-American Christians can take the whip (the Bible) slave masters used to beat the hell out of them, and use it to beat THEIR OWN PEOPLE who are presumed to not be just like them? Discrimination and hatred is wrong and unjust regardless of who is being victimized. The sting of "we don't like or allow your kind" or "we don't want you people here" is the same across the board. However you look at it, if a HUMAN BEING is being abused, dehumanized, judged, hated, terrorized, or discriminated against (especially using the Bible as the weapon)...it's WRONG and it IS NOT GOD'S WILL!
Look at how the Same Gender Loving (SGL) community is being treated today by the black church. I mean we're good enough to give our money. We're good enough to pay registration for their conferences. We're good enough to purchase their taped sermons, musical CDs, videos, books, etc. We're good enough to "give sacrificial offerings" and make financial pledges to support their livelihood and ministry, while they have personal chefs and we can barely feed our children or ourselves...But we're NOT good enough to serve in ministry. We're NOT good enough to be employed by the church. We're NOT good enough to have the same rights our ancestors fought to provide for all of us. And ain't NO WAY IN HELL we're going to heaven! Yes, it's sad that this type of abuse is going on today, but the even sadder thing is...the bulk of the SGL community willingly submits to this type of injustice. The bulk of the SGL community is the BACKBONE of this diabolical system.
I don't think for a minute that our ancestors struggled, and some even were killed so that their descendants could be treated with the same type of inhumane abuse as they were. I doubt when they were uprising, protesting, marching, or sitting in, that the intent was for those coming along after them to silently submit to social and spiritual persecution and suffering. For us to sit back and not even question what's going on is a slap in the face to all the ancestors who fought for equality before we were born. How DARE we disrespect their legacy! How DARE we totally disregard their struggle so that WE can be free! It's time for us to stand up and tell our brothers and sisters that even though we may be different from them, we are God's people. It's time for us to study and dig deeper into the scriptures THEY SAY condemn us, and show them that what they know isn't all that there is to know about us. It's time for us to tell those who intend to keep us bound, confused, in conflict, and in spiritual turmoil that we know THE TRUTH about God's unconditional love for us. It's time for us to stand up and proclaim that we are NOT excluded from the Kingdom of God, because the same blood and faith that got them "saved by grace" belongs to us too. For the SGL community to not stand up and fight for equality in society AND IN THE CHURCH is to disrespect the legacy of our ancestors.
And to the brothers and sisters who "aren't gay-bashers or homophobes" but who "just preach against sin" but haven't REALLY studied what the Bible says about the SGL community and others who are different from you, I just got ONE thing to say. Submission to an abusive, cruel, ignorant master who dehumanizes you and forces you into his belief system is one thing; but to BECOME the abusive, cruel, ignorant master who dehumanizes is quite another. Don't disrespect OUR legacy.