Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Making Martyrs

Making Martyrs (the Rev. Thomas Woodward)

Recognizing that Christ's sacrifice on the Cross was "once for all," it is still true that that sacrifice is reenacted and represented through additional innocent victims, sacrificed by those who cannot abide their presence or what they represent.

Many of us have recognized and been deeply affected by the saving grace of the martyrs of Sharpeville and of Birmingham and Selma. Nearly every posting on the HoBD this list-serve and the progressive blogs points to the impending sacrifice of gay and lesbian Christians within the church and countless throngs outside the church, hoping for some word of affirmation from God. "Sacrifice" may seem too strong a word for a moratorium, except that the message of a moratorium in this case carries the strong message that there are those who can be sacrificed for a greater good -- even by those who represent Jesus. That is an ancient message and, unfortunately, there are plenty who are eager to hear it … and to act on it.

Martyrs, as we all must know, do not always shed blood. Some shed tears, some shed their emotional and spiritual lives if the betrayal or hurt is deep enough. And there is worse.

If, as it appears to many, that we choose Martyn Minns over Matthew Shepherd even for a while, we will create martyrs. It will be the church creating martyrs. And those martyrs will, in time, be saving martyrs, sharing not by choice but by destiny in the saving work of Jesus on the Cross in their humiliation.

It may be for some that the death of Jesus on the Cross, which was accomplished to hold the faith, hold the Empire together, was not enough, not sufficient. Just as for me and for so many others of us in this and every other church, it took the martyrs of Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery for us to begin to understand the humanity of the victims, so it will take more Matthew Shepherds (some Black, some Brown, some Asian) for those who stand against the Episcopal Chruch. How odd that it will be a brother or sister of Matthew who will be the agent of salvation for Peter Akinola and his brothers and sisters in faith, enabling them to see the full humanity and holiness of those they once saw only as sin or threat.

I hesitate in posting this, because I know I can't speak for the experience of others. I can only assume that I am not overstating their case.


Blogger Share Cropper said...

Crucifixion (sacrifice) happens to most GLBT people every day - in the world about us if not in our own churches. I would like to think that all the martyrs who have gone before are enough and that someone will say, "Close the arena", "Send the bulldozers to Golgotha." It is time to end the sacrifices and await the resurrection and salvation.

2/23/2007 7:07 PM  

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