Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Baptismal Covenant, or Why being a liberal goes with being a Christian for me

I got to thinking this morning about what it was like for me when I first became a believer during church.  Part of it was the sermon, the other part involved questions a friend of mine had about my religion.

Do they say offensive things about glbt people or women's rights?

It made me remember the first chip in my armor as a teenager.  One of the things about growing up un-churched is that even f you land in a place where they practice infant baptism, which I did, you get to remember your baptism.  You're not 2 months old when it happens.  Not that there's anything wrong with being two months old when it happens.  Some of the most religious/sanctified/Holy Spirit oozing people I know were baptised as children.

The Episcopal Church doesn't just try and drown you in front of a bunch of people for a baptism.  No, instead we ask hard questions and ask people to make hard promises.  It's those promises that come back to me every time I'm tempted to dismiss another human being as worthless or less than.

 Celebrant     Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
People          I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant      Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?             
 People          I will, with God’s help
.Celebrant      Will you strive for justice and peace among all
                 people, and respect the dignity of every human
People          I will, with God’s help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons?   There's no wiggle room there.   There's no "but not the gays" clause, or "not the women" or "not the poors",  or "not the Republicans" in there.  It's ALL persons.  All of them.  In case you don't get it, they add a clincher:   Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?  

For me, that's pretty clear.  Crystal.   Just in case I don't get it reading the gospels or having them read to me every week, it's right there in the promises I made to God when I formally joined his family.  It's why I wholly reject the words of people who parade around, purporting to speak in the name of God, and compare homosexuals to people who screw ducks or abuse children.  This isn't respecting their dignity, it's a blatant attempt to stip them of it.  That isn't my Jesus.  I don't like this guy they keep talking about.  Yes, Christ wasn't afraid to call out sins, as they like to say, but it was never sexual sins he was calling it.  It was hypocrisy, keeping people away from God by declaring them outlaws, and condemning others when they themselves were mired in dirt up to their necks.  Somehow I think we need to stop straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

I am, for the record, ridiculously happy that I learned how to love God where I did.  Ecstatic even.  The other deal breaker for my friend?  Evolution.   Yes, we get to believe in dinosaurs.


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