Why Rainbowing the Presby Seal Works for Me
Anytime Facebook gets momentum on profile pictures being changed for advocacy reasons it creates tension. Last time I experienced this with the red equal signs for marriage equality and I, after a FB exchange, blogged about why I did it, here.
Yesterday, again with marriage equality, the denomination in which I serve – The Presbyterian Church (USA) – made way for marriage equality through two efforts: one immediately allowing pastors to use discretion and perform same-gender marriages, and the other a constitutional change to the definition of marriage affirming its traditional understanding as between a man and woman but also changing to two persons to recognize a larger understanding of marital covenants. Then a lot of Presbys took FB profile pics by storm changing our seal to some version of rainbow.
(Image compliments of Adam Walker Cleaveland here)
Today I heard (indirectly, but I heed her voice) from another person who didn’t appreciate the “rainbowing” of the PC(USA) seal which she felt sent signals we weren’t meant to send. I respect her views, she is one of the most passionate disciples I’ve ever met and I really wish I could move her to my current church because I miss her presence and her wrestling with God’s word. And her views are shared by many. She spoke respectfully and gave voice to frustration – thank you for that. I should be held accountable, its why I do church – affirmation and accountability. So I am grateful for the opportunity to again be reflective about my choices. Everyone recognizes that not all of us celebrated this change. Is it crass to celebrate when that causes further pain? What about those who have been oppressed and chased from the church by our silence or outright denial of their committed relationships, can we not be happy for them, with them? How can we give voice to pain, celebrate joy, and still struggle to live together with common cause in Christ?
It isn’t easy. We are still figuring that out. But because I think I should have to stand up for why I choose to be “seen” in support of marriage equality and not just do “picture advocacy” here is my response about why I rainbow sealed:
I appreciate your thoughtful reflection. I think your reflection speaks for a lot of people, and it needs to be said. I do not wish to debate the right and wrongness of it – God knows how often I’ve been wrong. But I do wish to speak for myself of why I have a rainbow seal
I see the rainbow seal as appropriate precisely because I am pro gay. Because called to love my neighbor, the stranger, the alien, and the outcast, I am pro humanity. I am pro people who have been denied love and care, particularly by the church. I’m pro being in a church that is trying to cease to be an oppressive force which it has been (and always will be because we see through a glass dimly). I am pro people in their diverse particularity. If you cannot be pro black, pro woman, or pro gay. I do not think you can say you are pro human. Being pro human without supporting people in their particularness is generic and – I’d say – meaningless.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” God loves people in their particularity, this is incarnational theology, and I endeavor to do the same, something at which I do fail, but today I celebrate with a strong sense that the church in which I serve has opened its arms a little wider and loves a little deeper. And when I walk in the Boise Pride parade tomorrow I will do so proud of our church for its stance.
So yes, for today and tomorrow my seal will be rainbow. It could be, and should be all colors and no color and whatever it takes to remind us that God is God of all people, of many covenants, of steadfast love and faithfulness who tends to hang out with the people forced to the margins by the dominant narratives of our corporate life but endeavors to gather us all in celebrating our uniqueness while creating a wholeness and unity in an Acts 2 kind of outpouring of the Spirit. Today’s rainbow may feel like the scandal of particularity (ala Israel itself) to you, and that should be – because that is the way of our God who lifts up those who need lifting, and at one time or another that is all of us.
In the deep and wise words of Bob the Tomato, “Remember kids, God made you special and God loves you very much.”
——UPDATE, only one hour later 🙂
I didn’t get this in oiginally and wanted to do so but I’m not a really a disciplined and polished writer, I’m just jotting down my thoughts and reactions so let me get this in now. On the question of the rainbow. I never knew the genesis of the rainbow in support of LGBTQ neighbors until today (or I don’t recall knowing this) when I read this article from Slate. However, I have always thought of the rainbow in terms of the rainbow covenant which is God’s reminder to God’s self not to destroy again. It is a deeply theological affirmation of all life, and of love for God’s creation. Under the rainbow we are reminded that God holds life sacred – our lives, all lives. I think that works for me too.