but outside the room there is a tiger.
In here we may be running in circles around sex... we are re-translating the Heidelberg Catechism and receiving Peace, Unity, and Purity reports, skirting carefully around the issue of homosexuality, using polite euphemisms, reviewing ordination standards, defining marriage, and closing loopholes... but outside you may run into a group of non-presbyterians who are telling us all that we are ALL going to hell, and we'll roast there. frizzle. fry.
The protesters hold signs saying "jesus saves us from hell," "warning! perverts, repent!" and "homo sex destroys national security" among others (i kid you not) and although I was not present for these remarks, one was reported to be singing "jesus hates you, this I know." Someone tried to engage me in conversation with the line "it's not LOVE to tell your homosexual brothers and sisters that everything is all right! it's not LOVE to just send them off to hell! All you presbyterians are going to be held accountable for them!" and I didn't bite the bullet.... when another tried the words "homosexual marriage is the reason that California is on fire right now" I couldn't leave that unanswered, and entered a ten-minute exercise in futility, trying to inquire if there were any OTHER sins that could be implicated. Entering the plenary hall, I heard the stated clerk formally request that we not engage in argument with the protesters, or allow the hostilities to escalate, and I was humbled by the realization that I had succumbed to that temptation -- and that my efforts had been useless.
Sex might be a big, scary elephant, but the room isn't that big, and we're all in it together. In fact, I think it'd be hard for the elephant to kick anyone, as we're crowding and constricting it from every side. Outside, on the plaza, there are no walls, and no limit, and no rules unless the police are standing by. The tiger is free to sink his teeth in with "do you pray like that when you have your gay sex? God doesn't listen to your prayers!" and to slash out at every rainbow-scarved target that walks by.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to be in plenary hall with you, and let's appreciate our elephant.