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Closeting vital conversations, plaiting new whips, and not walking away.

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

My discernment and self-restraint muscles are fatigued this week. So, I've prayed for calm in my troubled soul and my anxious, gentle warrior heart.

For some, choosing to enter into dialogue and listen to alternative viewpoints around LGBTIQA+ people of faith might be triggering and uncomfortable – particularly if it feels unfaithful as we have taught it should. Indeed, opening ourselves to such vital conversations can induce a fear of backlash – and, for some, this is the reality. I get it; really, I do. But please don't take my empathy as a pass for anyone to opt out – certainly not without pushback.

Table flipping and whip making

The image of Jesus flipping tables has sat just east of my prayer – a sense of Jesus saying, "here, flip it like this", just in the peripheral edge of temptation. And so too has the act of Jesus first walking away to plait a whip.

Did Jesus, too, need to calm his anxious, gentle warrior heart?

Was his head, heart, soul, and body troubled, trembling in frustration and anger?

Did God need to breathe deeply before taking any action?

Did he push his heels and toes in the dirt to gain a sense of grounding?

Was Jesus first exercising his self-restraint and discernment muscles, taking the time to find the materials required? Sitting cross-legged, plaiting a whip, did God mumble Hebrew profanities under his hot breath back to himself?

Did God's heart pound and break against his chest?

Did God's body pulse as blood and adrenalin fought through veins and sinew in this seemingly unholy holy moment?

Was Jesus taking time to check himself – that the anger and sense of injustice shaking his body was justified – was right - was it just?

Back into the closet for another day

Shelving vital conversations because we are not quite ready is problematic on too many fronts. For the church – Oh Lord, your church. For people who need to come out because life, and yes, faith, depends on it. Families, perhaps fearful of the 'choice' placed upon them. For church leaders who long and groan to move forward. How many relationships will be damaged because more time is required? How much time is enough – is too much? How much will self-harm, shame, anxiety, and suicide occur in this timeframe? Will it be someone you know? Does that even matter? How many will shake their heads, dismayed that the church is dragging its heels again? And, what of people's relationship with the church - and God - often suffering irreparable damage? How many more will vote with their feet?

And to be blunt, if you haven’t used the time you’ve already had (because there’s been plenty) – well, that indicates a lack of time management; time has already run out. The act of gatekeeping access to vital and challenging conversations bewilders me - not as an injustice towards me (though I, too, am the church) - it is an injustice towards all people of faith. And especially LGBTIQA+ people of faith, families, lived realities, wholistic and holy wellbeing, personal safety, life, and death situations – all at the expense of 'timing' or discomfort. In this timeframe, how many will be affected? One more, is one too many.

Lament and hope

This shape of injustice breaks me.

My body folds inward with grief.

My soul vibrates from my solar plexus.

My fists beat against my chest, and I wail.

How long, oh Lord?

Knowing there is another way – a life-giving way for all.

How long?

Trust us

Can we trust people to discern, listening for holy invitations, praying their way through this conversation? That, yes, the discomfort will be present – because it is holy and necessary? Can we trust that God is already in the places and people we need to move towards in acts of justice? Can we move ourselves towards the other knowing, no trusting God is present? Can we trust that the Spirit moves strikingly in the margins - and in our own unlearning and discomfort? Can we trust transformation in ourselves? Can you trust us? Can I trust you? I trust God.

No table has been upturned today, and though a whip has been plaited through my fingers – I won’t raise it. However, the challenge will not be pushed back into the closet – and I'm not walking away silent.

Click the link below to listen to the conversation

Thank you to the fabulous Steven Goulstone and Cathy Marston who willingly interviewed me and for your ongoing support and grace…

- Amanda Pilbrow @AlreadyEnough

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