I just ran across this provocative (adjective chosen carefully!) piece of writing at StandFirm. Matt Kennedy has written a screed about "rainbow warriors," or people who wear any kind of rainbow insignia at communion services. Here's a sample:
Those wearing a rainbow sash or insignia publicly declare that: 1. they unrepentantly and willfully reject the clear teaching of both the Scriptures and the Church and/or 2. that they are themselves willfully and unrepentantly engaging in homosexual sex.The display represents an attempt to abuse the Lord's table for political gain and public notoriety. If permitted it will cause great injury to their own souls and to the Body of Christ. As ordained ministers of the gospel and pastors of a flock it is, in my opinion, our duty to prevent this abuse.
Ah, where to begin. First, I already took a deep breath before I began this posting. Second, said a quick prayer for a spirit of charity. Third...
It should be observed that Matt's fearless leader in global schism has already demonstrated mastery of politicizing the sacrament, and I agree completely that a celebration of Holy Communion should be just that. Would that all the priamtes, to name but one example, agreed with this sentiment.
Let us suppose, for the sake of this discussion, that I conceded the point that the Bible absolutely supports Matt's position on human sexuality. The Bible says much, much more about scandalous wealth. Should we not approach the Holy Table wearing $200 shoes or a $500 suit? That seems to be much more problematic, biblically speaking, than any infraction of sexual morality. Let us further suppose that I stipulated that those in GLBT relationships were sinners. Who better to approach the Holy Table and feast on Christ's body and blood. Is it not, after all, the call of the church to redeem sinners, not to be a community of the imagined pure? (I think a quick read of the Gospels will support my point here.)
Now, suppose I agree with Matt that rainbow flags are symbols of sin. Should we not then apply his logic to other symbols of sin? There are many advertising logos (say, Nike) which are readily equated with sweatshop labor. Shall we excommunicate those wearing Nikes? What about those bearing the symbols of empire-building, global exploitatoin, and military might? Shall we exclude those in uniform or wearing a flag pin?
Ah, ridiculous, isn't it. Matt is demonstrating, by handy counter-example, why we need to work for a church that lives out the Gospel truth. Jesus said the first commandment is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbor. He spent his time on earth showing us how to do that: always truthful, always ready to invite the outcasts to the banquet, always critical of the self-righteous religious establishment, and always reaching out his embrace to the whole world. That's our model of the church, I think.
For the record, I fully agree with Matt that the sacrament should not be time of poltical protest. I would never participate in an overt political action at a celebration of Holy Communion. It's not the place. I might carry a placard on the church porch, but not inside. I wouldn't encourage anyone to wear a rainbow sash or any other sign as a symbol of protest, but as a priest, my only words when they approached the altar rail would be "The Body of Christ."
UPDATE: See the comments for conversation with, among others, Matt Kennedy. I attempt to clarify what I've said as well. Thanks to Matt for reading this blog and taking the time to respond here. I'm in awe of his ability to produce so much content and to stay in so many conversations.