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May 2018 Tidings

posted May 29, 2018, 1:22 PM by Kate Fields
Beloved Underwood,

    A few weeks ago, an ordinance came before the Milwaukee Common Council. The ordinance was a controversial one that many of the aldermen and alderwomen received a great deal of feedback on from their constituents. Multitudes of folks who supported it and opposed it showed up at Milwaukee City Hall to express their views. The ordinance in question proposed a ban on reparative/ conversion therapy practiced by therapists within the city of Milwaukee.

    Conversion therapy is practiced with the intention of changing an individual’s sexual orientation from gay, bisexual, lesbian, or queer to straight or one’s gender identity from transgender to cis-gender by using psychological, spiritual, or physical manipulation. It has been proven ineffective and so harmful, and has been denounced by every major medical and psychological association in the United States. The ban only applied to children ages 18 and under who could receive this type of therapy within the city limits; it did nothing to limit the power of clergy members who wished to perform reparative therapy within their faith communities, and yet it was the faith communities and people of faith who showed up with the loudest voices.

    One side of city hall was filled with folks who opposed the ban and held between them banners opposing on religious grounds. The opposite side of the room had a smaller crowd of folks with rainbow flags and signs supporting the ban. As the ordinance came to the floor, various aldermen and alderwomen spoke for it or against it. One alderwoman started her comments noting that she is a minister and is a strong believer in God and the power of the church to make its own decisions about faith. In not so many words, she alluded to her beliefs about sexuality tended to fall on the more theologically conservative camp. However, she could not in good conscience abide reparative therapy, given the statistics of how much harm it causes to LGBTQI teens — both significantly increasing the likelihood of addiction to illicit substances and the likelihood of depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, and suicidality. As she explained her position, opposing crowd-members began to shout “wolf, wolf, wolf in sheep’s clothing” at her. The Chairman of the Council had to call order to the hall to allow her to continue and finish her statement of support of the ban. Several things ran through my head during that moment - first, I thought of the dehumanization that this elected official and minister was undergoing by being called a wolf. Then secondly, I thought of Jesus’ words as recorded in this Johannine passage:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

If there is not love, there is not life, and the life Jesus lived is in vain.

Pastor Kate