During her recent and much acclaimed speech in Geneva, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton challenged the world to live up to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognize the inherent dignity of LGBT people around the globe. In doing so, she shared with her UN colleagues that human rights advocates in the US often call upon political and other leaders to be “on the right side of history” and remember that no good has ever been achieved by a contraction of the rights individuals enjoy in civil society. On the contrary, history bears out that it is only through an expansion of rights to groups previously excluded has progress been made in advancing the goals of equality and justice the 1951 Declaration espouses. Inclusion, not exclusion, has always been the path of progress.
A similar challenge can and should be made to Christian leaders who cite biblical passages out of context or institutional “teachings” limited by time and culture when they take positions against the civil and religious rights of God’s LGBT children. Just as it is possible to be on the wrong side of history, so too it is possible to be on the wrong side of Salvation History.
Generally speaking, the notion of Salvation History rests in the fundamentally Christian belief that God is active in our world. It recognizes the Mystery of the Incarnation in the concrete and sees the Hand of God not as some divine puppeteer pulling the strings in our daily lives, but rather as the presence of the Spirit Whose ways are simultaneously known and unknown, manifest and hidden. We don’t always know what is of God and what is not, but we believe that God is present and at work in all creation.
For those who do believe that every human person is a reflection of the Divine; for we who struggle each day to allow that image and likeness of God within us to be seen more clearly, despite our faults and failings which all too often dull the brightness of that beautiful image, how can we make sense of such labels as “objectively disordered” and other terms describing gay and lesbian people as somehow “less than” their straight sisters and brothers?
The simple, truthful answer is we can’t. The Truth that all people reflect the Image of God and the “teachings” about homosexuality put forth by many Christian communities, including my own Catholic Church, are simply irreconcilable. One perspective will be on the right side of Salvation History, and one will not. I’m putting my nickel on the Truth.