How We Are to Be Healed.
“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal”- Rumi, 13th century Persian poet.
The Hebrew language is a beautiful one. It’s not considered one of the Romantic languages, but I think it can certainly hold its own with the eloquence and majesty of Italian, or even French. There’s an expression in Hebrew that’s been tumbling around in my head for a while: “Jehovah-Raphe”. The God who Heals. The Hebrew language has a staggering amount of names for God that describes his nature, but this one might be the most applicable to our daily experience. The God who Heals. The one who for whom love has no end, and his care for us is unparalleled.
God is with us when we suffer. He is with us when we cry out in pain. He is with us when we hurt so mightily that we feel like our hearts might explode from with crushing weight of our grief. He is with us in the loss. Sometimes all we can to is weep, and let him hold us because nothing in our lives seems to make sense anymore. He is in the difficulties. He is in the silence. God is with us.
We must take time to remind ourselves of this reality, for speaking this truth to ourselves and to others has meaning and significance beyond what we can imagine. For those of us who are in safe spaces, both physically and mentally, we must embody this safety to those who are not in a similar place of safety. There is no loss in this; there is only loss when we fail to extend this grace and this comfort to our brothers and sisters. In his book “Velvet Elvis”, Rob Bell reminds us that love, true love, has no hidden agenda. If it did, it wouldn’t really be true love after all. The idea that we offer encouragement or love with strings attached is unconscionable, from my perspective. Mostly because Jesus only gave love because he actually loved people. He was love. We should be compelled to do the same.
When we speak truth to power, as many philosophers, activists, and troublemakers have reminded us, we certainly assume a certain amount of risk, but simultaneously allow ourselves to be freed from convention, from a lack of critique, from mindless obedience. We pull ourselves out of the pit of mass acceptance, and begin to see with fresh eyes. This is a lesson I’ve learned extremely well over the past few months in regards to the issue of providing fully equality and essential human rights to members of the LGBTQ community. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the Church (certain denominations, that is) have drawn a line in the metaphorical sand over the issue. “You’re either for us, or against us”. You can be a Christian, or you can love gay and lesbian individuals. Apparently, there is no acceptable middle ground, no room for people who feel that it is in fact very Christlike indeed to extend basic acceptance and equality to a marginalized, oppressed minority. In part because that’s exactly what Christ himself modeled for his during his time on earth.
As a church body, we often fall into the trap of presenting a single, semi-unified position as the ultimate standard of expression, particularly when it comes to human sexuality. The status quo remains dominant as we hear from the pulpits week after week, month after month, year after year that there is only one way to go about loving one another in a committed, monogamous relationship. This single story narrative might perhaps work for some individuals, maybe even most, but if this narrative forces many of our brothers and sisters in Christ to the margins of our communities; it creates a severe sense of exclusion, and that is a genuine miscarriage of justice, I feel. Recently, I’ve had several believers make their case to me: “We all must die to the flesh”; “We’re all sinners, of course”; “Everyone needs grace”; “God’s standards are just really high!”. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these statements. They’re not explicitly violent, nor are they particularly hateful. But when we use these statement to create a sense of exclusion between us and those who may be different, we are once again missing the very crux of the Gospel. Above all else, we must embody love.
One of my friends recently summed up the issue rather eloquently, and their words capture the essence of this disagreement. They noted that when a straight individual disagrees with a gay individual on this issue, their words are inescapably hurtful since the gay individual simply wishes to be in possession of the exact same rights, privileges, and protection as any other citizen. This issue can no longer be a matter theological wrangling. This is an issue of justice, pure and simple. As a church, its high time that we come to see it as such, and begin working to create a more just, inclusive, and above all, loving society.