Friday, October 16, 2015

Overused words. . .

I have to admit that I am very tired of the word marginalized.  We hear all the time about those whom society has marginalized or those who have been marginalized by the Church.  At first this was legitimate term to describe the powerless on whom society trampled and those who had been victims of oppression.  I am not at all sure when this began being a popular term to use to describe those whose sexual orientation or lifestyle contrasts with the Biblical ethic and Jude0-Christian morality which has been remarkably consistent (at least until modern times when some have been rethinking it all).  Frankly, if I were one of those who had legitimate clam to the term marginalized I would be upset at the way others who do have access to power and media are now claiming that term.  In particular I am suspicious of those who claim they have been marginalized by the Church.

Let me begin by saying I do not believe the Church as a whole has behaved honorably and charitably in all circumstances.  Indeed, as a child of the Reformation I would say that the Church has encountered dark times when the Gospel has been subjected to all sorts of bad machinations.  That said, however, I am not at all what it means when the term marginalized is used to describe GLBT individuals.  Furthermore, I am not swayed by those who claim that the fruits mute the Biblical words or the abuses committed in the name of Christ render the morality behind those abuses impotent. 

There are GLBT people who are nicer, even better people, than heterosexuals and, in particular, heterosexual Christians.  They may have better relationships than married straight people and be exemplary in all sorts of other ways.  True as this is, this does not erase the Biblical model of male and female humanity, of marriage between a man and woman by God's design, and the family as the chief order of God's creative work.  Being straight or married does not mean we are perfect or better.  We are all sinners before God who claim no righteousness and have no clear conscience before Him except the righteousness of Christ and the clear conscience born of repentance and absolution.  That said, no amount of creative exegesis can weasel out of Scripture a justification to open marriage to whomever wishes to be married.  To hold to the Biblical model for male and female marriage and family does not marginalize anyone.

The Church does not marginalize the single because we adhere to the Biblical teaching on marriage.  The Church does not marginalize the married without children because we adhere to the Biblical teaching on children and family.  The Church does not marginalize the GLBT because we adhere to the Biblical teaching regarding male and female as God created them.  The Church does not marginalize the married without children because we offer special ministries to families and children in order to heed the Biblical call to teach the children.  The Church does not marginalize those married for a while and with children because we might offer groups for young marrieds to heed the Biblical calls for the elders to teach those who are young or the widow to mentor young marrieds.  The Church does not marginalize men because we have a women's group or women because we have a men's group. 

Sadly, we have come to term people who want reaffirmation instead of the call to repentance as marginalized.  Nothing of the case.  Everyone who comes into the life of the Church hears the call to repentance, the call to faith, the promise of an alien righteousness from Christ to cover their sin, and the promise of the Spirit to lead them into all truth and amend their sinful ways.

Marginalizing people has come to be the common charge of the churches that do not affirm, accept, and celebrate everyone just as they are.  It is a false charge because though God meets us where we are, He does not leave us there.  He brings us from sin to repentance, from guilt to righteousness, from death to life in Christ.  The Church is surely an organization of sinners with many faults and no one, certainly not me, would suggest that the Church has always acted in exemplary ways in calling sinners to repentance or welcoming sinners with the Cross of Christ.  But that failing is not the same as the charge of marginalizing those who wish to have their desires, wants, self-understandings, and wishes affirmed by a God who has come for sinners and who saves sinners -- but does not pat sinners on the back and tell them they are wonderful just the way they are.  I am me -- no excuses and no regrets -- simply, inexplicably me... and you cannot accept me as I am, celebrate who I am, and affirm me for who I am... then you are marginalizing me..... NOT!


2 comments:

Kirk Skeptic said...

There is much truth in what you say, but please clarify what yo mean when you say group a isn't marginalized because the church ministers to only non-a's; for example I was in a church (DG not Lutheran) years ago which considered youth groups to be unnecessary and "dividing the congregation," yet this same church had ministry groups for women, men, and college/career kds. That wasn't dividing the congregation? What are the criteria for ministering and excluding?

Janis Williams said...

Ironically, those churches and Christians who do hold to Scripture are the ones being m------d (didn't want to use the word) by the "m-------d" masses.