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Speaking to the Soul: Many in Number

Speaking to the Soul: Many in Number

Wednesday, December 9, 2013 — Week of Advent 2, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 38 (morning) // 119:25-48 (evening)

Isaiah 6:1-13

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

John 7:53-8:11

My heart is heavy this morning. It is heavy with grief for my gay, lesbian, and transgender brothers and sisters whose civil rights were just put to a vote yesterday. A vote which they lost.

The very concept of putting the rights of a minority to a majority vote stuns me. I believe that human beings can do much better than to make full inclusion in the community conditional upon a popular vote. But for now, the decision on whether to permit discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity rested with the general population. And, the transparently  fear-filled and profit-motivated voters carried the day.

When my heart is heavy, I usually have to let the Psalms do my praying for me. This morning, my heart hurt when I got to this verse: “Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty, and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.” I heard the Psalmist giving voice to people who make up a minority of citizens in our community and whose opponents are indeed “many in number.”

Although these opponents claim that they aren’t motivated by hatred, I don’t see much difference between hatred and fear. Most of the fear-mongering claims that were part of this campaign do not bear repeating. Suffice it to say that these claims were groundless, based on prejudice and hysteria, creating many “enemies without cause.”

One of those claims, though, was that prohibiting discrimination would lead to frivolous lawsuits and would frighten businesses away from our city. This fear-motivated claim is hatred in disguise, for what is hatred if not selling out the rights of others in the name of making more money? (There is plenty of evidence that correlates cultures of tolerance with financial prosperity, by the way.)

The Psalmist concludes with pleas for God to stay with him and to help him: “be not far from me, O my God. Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation.” However, I’m not sure that God’s company or  assistance is what most of our LGBT brothers and sisters will be looking for today. What a great loss to all the people of God.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal.  She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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