Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jasper Goldberg: "We Must Make Our Stand"

A reader pointed me to an excellent essay that appeared last month on the blog of Bishop Marc Andrus of California. It was written by Jasper Goldberg, a high school student who is a member of the Church of Our Savior, Mill Valley, California, where Richard currently serves as Rector.

A tip of the stetson to Aileen for pointing me to this amazing piece of writing from one of our young adults.

I am reprinting Jasper's essay here, with his permission:

Every year at advent we hear the story of John the Baptist, crying out in the wilderness that something great is coming. We hear also of how crazy he was, how so few people listened, but we know now that he was right. Something wonderful was indeed coming. That something was a someone, Jesus of Nazareth, who would go on to preach a message of love and equality, echoing John’s call to lower every mountain and fill in every valley. We call ourselves Christians because we dedicate ourselves to loving and serving all that God has blessed.

Today, we are that voice in the wilderness, crying out for the earth to be made flat so that every human being may walk on equal ground. We are shunned by “mainstream” Anglicans, cast out by the community that was supposed to be our home. We are told that the split is our doing, that we are to blame for this schism. And in fact, we are. It was our decision to consecrate a gay bishop, to elect a female presiding bishop, and to insist that it is our right to do these things. But let’s be proud of that. Any communion that would not allow us to recognize the equality of God’s children is not a communion we should be a part of.

We see in the stories of Jesus’ ministries to the prisoners, the lepers and the outcasts of society in his day a message that no one is below the love of God. We are all God’s children, and we know that what we do unto the least of the people of God, we do unto God. Every time that we allow an injustice to be perpetrated against a gay man or a lesbian woman, the marginalized of today’s world, we allow the attacker to harm our beloved God, and in our negligence we are guilty. It is not enough to stand on the sidelines, and hope that someday things will be better. We must make our stand for those that society considers “outcasts” if we are to be worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is not easy to take a stand on so divisive an issue. In our fractured world, I would much rather advocate unity and reconciliation. Only one glance at the newspapers is enough to remind me that this world is defined by East vs. West, Shia vs. Sunni, red vs. blue. I do not want to support splitting the world yet another way. But this is not a division on ethnic, religious or political differences. This is liberty vs. inequality. This is right vs. wrong, and there can be no reconciliation with wrong.

This is not just a struggle for members of the gay and lesbian community. I am not gay, but I owe it to my family members and friends who are gays and lesbians to take a stand. I owe it to the individuals who fought and sacrificed for the Goldberg family during the dark years of Nazism. I owe it to all who have taken stands in the past. I owe it to Jesus himself, who gave everything for each and every one of us.

The wilderness is never an easy place to be, but let us not despair as the Anglican Communion leaves us. Someday, those who understand the absolute equality of human life will be more numerous than the stars. In the meantime, it is up to us to proclaim the bold message of Jesus, Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Harvey Milk, even if it seems that no one is listening. The Anglican Communion divided will not stand, but the “fierce urgency of now” demands us to stand up. We cannot compromise with what we know is wrong. Forget your fears, disregard the prevailing opinions, remember Christ and join us on the journey to the Mountaintop.

Jasper Goldberg


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