Friday, June 5, 2009

The Silence of Our Friends

As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

Some of those in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would cry out.”

Luke 19:37-40

NEWSWEEK has an article on “The American Future,” by historian and social critic Simon Schama. They summarize what they call “the four best bits” from the book. This is number four:

“For many European secularists, American religiosity can seem either dangerous or deluded. But some of the nation’s greatest social movements (anti-slavery, civil rights) would likely not have succeeded without the help, and moral fervor, of religious organizations.”

I would have added the Social Gospel impact on labor laws and social welfare (the American interest in sociology was not academic, it was fueled by the Social Gospel determination to learn how best to help those in poverty). And let’s not forget that Walter Rauschenbusch, one of the great Social Gospel pioneers, drafted the first Social Security plan as part of the Republican Party platform in 1904.

The Social Gospel movement was good for the country, but it was also good for the church. The church is at its most faithful best when it is pressing forward, ahead of the curve, and beyond its own comfort zone on social issues. Our vision of the Kingdom of God, at the center of Jesus’ preaching, calls us to create a more just society.

Karen Izzo, an advocate for Gay Marriage and other issues of concern to the Gay and Lesbian community (you can read her blog at, has a quotation at the bottom of her emails:
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sadly, on the issue of Civil Rights for our Gay and Lesbian sisters and brothers, the church has been silent. We have not been faithful. Neither the church nor the nation has been well served by our silence.

As Jesus said when he led his disciples into Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday, declaring the Kingdom of God in radical opposition to the violence and injustice of the empire, "Even the stones would cry out".

1 comment:

  1. Again your comments are so provocative I must respond! The acceptance of gays as equals may be a lithmus for societal love for fellow man. As a loved child of god, the homosexual is no less valued than the holiest of men. If the gay community is crusified on the basis of their sexual identity, we may be shielding ourselves from a messenger of God. As everyone may have 15 minutes of fame, perhaps we each have an individual gift from God-a piece of life's puzzle. Bear in mind that all pieces are created equal. If global conflicts and issues are indicative of man's progress on the puzzle, the same section remains unfinished. The hidden treasure is the same as before sufferage, slavery, and fear of fire-yet mankind feels evolved. There may be a character flaw in man's nature that prevents us from overcoming fear of the unique. Is this the piece of the puzzle that's under the rug? The piece that shows how to change the harmonics of the world from hate, aggression, and fear to love, support and understanding?