In glancing through the book of Psalms, I came across the opening verses of Psalm 96 which drew my attention immediately in light of what is going on around me here in the United States.
For one thing, we have a heated Presidential election going on between Donald Trump– a hate monger and rabble rouser in my view–with little grasp of what it takes to be a President let alone a human being with any sense of compassion, empathy, or respect for others, and Ted Cruz, who is a different sort of hate monger but of a similar vein.
On the other side we have Hillary Clinton who represents or is represented by various lobbyist groups and big business and Wall Street types– now she has always been liberal and progressive to a point, but mainly she is part and parcel a representative of an establishment where money still makes policy. She has been an okay supporter of LGBT causes but has not exactly a well-established or clear-cut history of personal integrity and her views have often changed or morphed to suit those who fund her campaign or supported her husband while he was President. Challenging Hillary Clinton is the Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who is pushing for political reform and democratic socialism. He is definitely standing on a platform that wants to see economic equality, social equality, and an end to corruption and tax evasion from the top 10% elite in this country who seem to own about 80% or more of our nation’s wealth.
I am also mindful as I read these opening lines in Psalm 96 about this recent surge in these religious-based “Religious Freedom Bills” or what really amount to as “Anti-LGBT Discrimination Bills” or “Bathroom Bills”. 20 states are considering or have passed laws that no longer protect LGBT persons from being denied services at places of business, housing, employment, public services , health care, counseling services, crisis intervention services, or access to public restrooms.
It seems to me, all this renewed hatred and vitriol targeting the LGBT community has got to have stemmed at least in part from the Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage. These laws that are trying to slip past the Constitution are what amounts to simply the backlash coming from the Religious Right and Ultra-Conservatives who don’t see the accurate picture of what it is to be LGBT and what it is the LGBT community is really seeking right now.
Fear mongering and hate mongering has dictated the conversations in politics and even in some churches. Open and affirming churches have now also become targets of hate crime for their support of the LGBT community and same-sex marriage or transgender inclusion. Their rainbow Equality Flags are being stolen and burned on their front door steps. Buildings are getting vandalized. People are being threatened and in extreme cases, assaulted and killed– especially if they are transgender.
So why does the opening few lines of Psalm 96 stick in my head in light of this?
Psalm 96:1-3 “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
It’s time for people to sing a different tune. It’s time to take a stand for social equality, economic equality, and human decency and dignity. It’s time to declare to the powers that seem to be in charge that we are fed up with having our miseries force fed to us while wool is pulled over our eyes or lies and misinformation is thrown at us constantly. It’s time we all consider answering to a much higher authority– the highest authority.
Jesus, the Son of God, never condoned oppression or discrimination. He welcomed any and all to sit at his table and break bread with him– from prostitutes to children to tax collectors, to the sick and elderly, even to those who would even deny or betray him. Jesus also criticized the legalist establishment of the ultra-Conservative Pharisees and Sadducees who were using the laws and the old Testament Scriptures as a mean of consolidating and maintaining their power and authority over customs, religion, and of course their people. He had made time to heal the sick and wounded, teach those who sought to learn, feed the hungry, and those who simply asked to be forgiven of their sins.
Perhaps people need to be reminded that the behaviors and actions of today’s so-called “Christians” who commit violent acts against the LGBT community or their allies… or commit to vandalizing open and affirming churches or pushing for discriminatory bills under the guise of “religious freedom”, are forgetting their Gospels and forgetting who Jesus was as a man as well as the Son of God.
A new song needs to come from the masses, you might say, one that calls people to take action for social justice and equality. A song that the ideals of Jesus are not so radical or so un-approachable. We can, if we all pull together, find common ground, close the divides, and get to the truth that matters.
Personally, I am sick and tired of this myth and stereotype that transgender women are all essentially men in dresses looking to prey on everyone’s wives and daughters in public restrooms. The fear that someone might slip on a dress and claim to be transgender just to slip into a woman’s bathroom to molest or rape a girl is not nearly as substantiated as are the real and actual cases of say… Catholic priests molesting altar or choir boys? Republican politicians sexually harassing, molesting, or raping female staff members or interns in bathrooms? The reality that 1 in 5 girls under the age of 18 have been raped or molested or sexually assaulted by either a family member or someone they know?
It’s time to sing out loud a new song that exposes some truths… rape culture and rape mentality… that somehow women deserve to raped or got what was coming to them because of what they wore, how they looked, how they acted on a date, how much they drank at a party, went to a party, didn’t say “No” clearly enough… etc? No woman deserves or asks to be raped! And no woman should be victim blamed or victim shamed either! The attitude of some men to say it’s okay to rape women because…. has got to die a quick death. That’s the situation we are really in and that’s more truth than this notion that there is this population of men in dresses or population of transgender women looking to prey on girls and women for sexual gratification in the bathroom.
There have been more rapes committed by hetero-normative men than any other population of people. And you can break that down into categories… politicians, bosses, teachers, priests, parents, foster parents, clinicians, strangers, neighbors… etc.
But FBI studies so far have concluded that there have been no reported acts of rape by transgender women upon hetero-normative or even lesbian or queer women. At least in the recent years when this study was undertaken. No issues of rape by transgender girls in high schools either.
Now on the flip side, the number of murders and homicides against transgender women have exceeded a record number in 2015, with 26 reported hate-based killings. In 2016, by the end of March, we already had 7 reported hate-based killings of transgender women. Most of them were women of color.
God can see the truth and sees what is in our hearts and we will have to answer for our actions and inactions. So it may be time to sing a new song and wake people up to some truth and raise some awareness to what’s really going on. It’s time Christians start acting like real Christians and its time for the LGBT community to stay on the fight for equality and social justice!