Are you here again then? But where to begin? The ACNA has published a new prayerbook. The Episcopal Church has embraced situational congregationalism. The only Episcopalian bishop with a backbone is about to be deboned for it. Archbishop Welby continues, unflinching, his stalwart stand contra standing. The phrase “human flourishing” still flourishes. A man who identifies as a woman married to a woman who identifies as a woman is really a lesbian in a same sex relationship and you had better get the pronouns right.
Perhaps we should start there with that last bit. The biggest cultural shift since Stand Firm crashed and the standing firm stopped for a season is that now, as opposed to four years ago, you get to choose your sexual identity. Four years ago, if you remember, such things could not be chosen. Your sexual proclivities were fixed by the cold, hard, iron laws of genetics. You were simply “born this way” and there was nothing you could do about it. Sure, certain benighted and bigoted organizations forced willing but self deceived gay men and women to deny their inflexibly ordained sexual destinies through “conversion therapy” but this was to de-stripe the zebra. Sexual identity was, back then, immutable.
But we should recognize when reading and considering articles and books from such periods that the authors of these ideas were products of their times. It would not be right to judge ancient peoples by the advanced standards and scientific knowledge of our own era. We must simply take the good and ignore the bad.
And yet a new day has dawned. The shackles of oppression have been broken. You are now free to be you, the true you, the real you. And the you who you are now does not determine the you who you will be tomorrow. Today you may be Michael but tomorrow you can be Michelle and then the next day you can be Cecil or Alexandra or whoever you like. He, she, xe, your pronouns are yours to choose. Neither genes nor genitalia have anything to do about it. You have no master. You are free to follow your heart. There are exceptions of course. If you are a trans woman lesbian married to a trans gay man you cannot simply decide to be a man who wants to be with a woman. Decency must be observed.
But despite the necessary moral limitations, the gospel, the good news of this age is you. To find joy and happiness and freedom, you must look within. What do you (at this point) truly desire? Who do you (right now) truly wish to be? Who do you (for the moment) wish to be with? Whatever you discern, whatever you find, whatever you feel, is good. Not just good, very good. And, to find salvation, freedom from body, genes, and the demands of the people around you, you must “do you”, “live out loud”, “believe in yourself”, and “express yourself.” Then you will be truly happy.
But into this beautiful dream, and others like it, a shrill discordant voice breaks, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
Who is this who darkens our council? What is this about denying the self? dying? losing? And how is it that by dying we might live, by losing we might gain, by forsaking ourselves we might find something for which, Someone in whom, these losses will prove to be no loss at all but rather Life itself?
Well, it seems there is still a reason for Stand Firm to stand. And so we will.