Love Your Neighbor; Everything Else Is Secondary
More Light Presbyterians screened Love Free or Die at the 220th General Assembly, a film about Bishop Gene Robinson directed by Macky Alston. In addition to being a documentary filmmaker, Macky serves as senior director at Auburn Media, a program at Auburn Seminary that helps faith leaders committed to justice speak out powerfully in the media. He is also a descendent of three generations of Presbyterian ministers.
“When a person asked Jesus what scripture and tradition all boils down to, he said, ‘Love God and love your neighbor,’” said Macky on the Biblical foundations for LGBT inclusion. “He didn’t say ‘love some neighbors.’ He said, ‘Love all.’ So that’s it. Everything else is secondary.”
I also hold fast to Galatians 3:28: that in Christ Jesus, there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free – we are all one. The ways that throughout the ages we have used the bible to divide and oppress is the very problem Jesus came to liberate us from, and he regularly stood with those who society scorned, lifting up “the last” as those who we most need to heed…
My parents were visiting my New York City apartment. We were just hanging out gabbing, when we heard a cry from out of our second-story window. A couple was fighting, a young transsexual prostitute and her john. He hit her, yelled some nasty epithets, and she shouted back to leave her alone. My husband and I were calling out the window, offering to call the police. The transsexual woman thanked us, but declined. The guy split. The woman seemed to dust herself off and prepare to go on her way.
I turned around to resume my conversation with my parents and my father seemed to have stepped out of the room. In minutes, he entered the apartment with the woman who had been hit, her forehead bloody, her blood boiling, and her heart, she said, broken. She couldn’t believe that she had let herself fall for such an abusive guy.
My father calmed the woman, we cleaned her cut, hung out for awhile, and then my parents offered to take her where she needed to go.
For some, what my dad did might be an everyday act. For my father, a Brooks Brothers type, a political liberal but a pretty proper guy, it was an extraordinary one. His life and experience could not be more different, at least on the surface, from the woman to whom he reached out. Her willingness to trust him and his willingness to offer help to her made loving neighbors of us, if just for that moment.
I cannot overestimate the power of what my parents have modeled for me – their faith, their courage, fighting for civil rights in Alabama when I was born and for my equality in the course of my coming out. Their love has been constant, in spite of all the ways the risks I have taken have challenged them. Words fail.
I have in my head now this line from our most recent film, Love Free or Die. In the middle of a sermon, just before a man interrupts him with shouts to repent, Bishop Gene Robinson says, “The opposite of love is not hate, but fear.”
God requires us to love one another, even our enemies, and love requires that all are included. In that space, God’s will is done; God’s kingdom comes. This challenges me to audit my own prejudices; to consider who I am excluding, just as I work to create a society that does not exclude me and my family.
The full post is available at A Time to Embrace.
Love Free or Die: “The opposite of love is not hate, but fear.”
- Conversation with Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, Time to Embrace