I read an article from the New York Times, seemingly from a religious conservative, this past week.  And the tone was along the lines that if we could just stop fixating on sexuality, maybe conservatives and liberals in the church (in the broadest sense) could focus on real Christian ministry.  Jeremiah talked about the real sin of Sodom being their unwillingness to share what they had with those in need.  And conservatives have begun to focus, perhaps, less on their personal faith, and more on living up to the gospel.  They have been challenged from within to start doing a better job of responding to the desperate needs of the world around them in God’s name.

And I actually wrote a comment on the author’s blog.  I noted that it was wonderful when religious liberals and religious conservatives could find common ground in mission — even when there were important areas where they still disagreed.  And I thought to myself that this is what my own bishop is trying to do in our diocese:  to stay together and focus on the mission and keep on moving forward in the name of Christ.  I think I’m paraphrasing this fairly accurately.  And I think it’s an honest and fair way to work together, even when we have significant areas of disagreement.  And I think it’s something we no longer do well in this country.  We polarize and divide, rather than find ways to unite and work together.  And we do this to our loss.

But I also found myself thinking that, of course, this whole blow up about homosexuality, that we have at least in the Episcopal Church, really isn’t about sex at all.  At least, it’s not in my mind.  It’s about treating God’s children with basic human dignity.  It’s about stopping discrimination and marginalization that make it ok to mistreat and abuse and attack and kill people.  And to do it under the cover of religion.  Which for me is not a side issue at all.  It’s at the heart of the gospel.

And that was brought home for me, again, earlier this evening, when I read that the anti gay law in Uganda looks likely to move forward, still.  This is a law that I don’t think could even be contemplated in our own country.  The last I heard, anyway, it would be a crime, punishable by at least 2 years in prison, not to report someone you suspected of being either gay or sympathetic to gays.  It would be a worse crime to be gay.  And if you touched someone with “homosexual” intent, you could receive the death penalty.  I make the assumption that conservatives and liberals from religious and secular backgrounds are all more or less equally appalled by the possibility of such a law.

There is a petition going around in opposition to this proposed law.  And I put a link to this on my face book page.  But I didn’t actually sign the petition.  And here’s my thinking.  If the reaction to the American Episcopal Church’s reaching out to our GLTBI brothers and sisters by fellow Anglicans in Uganda is any indication, my suspicion is that anything I might have to say on the subject is likely to be of more harm than help.  Which is an appalling thing to say.  But I fear it’s true.  Though maybe it doesn’t mean that I don’t say it anyway and at least take a shot.

I was appalled to hear that the Anglican Church in Uganda initially supported this law.  And it’s a step forward, in my mind, that they are now officially neutral on this law.  Though I am still appalled that they are not on record strongly against it.  I’d like to think that feedback from our own church and from around the Anglican Communion had something to do with moderating their position.  And I fear that our feedback could be the reason they haven’t come out against these proposed laws.

That’s the kind of polarization we’re all living with these days.  In our own United States and around the world, this kind of polarization has been effective in mobilizing our troops of whatever political or religious stripes.  It has driven us to the point where there is very little trust on any side, and where pretty much everyone seems to have been put in a position where they have been forced to choose a side.  And I think it is hurting us.  I think it is hurting our church.  I think it is hurting our country.  I think it is hurting the world we live in.

And I’d really like to see it stop.  Even as I recognize that I can and sometimes do get caught up in this myself.

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