Almost a year ago, before General Assembly in June of 2010, I wrote about the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns placing their recommendations on all overtures that would have opened the Book of Order to include same gender marriage. They wrote:
The practice of excluding people who are gay and lesbian from marriage has its roots in the persistence of patriarchal standards for the lives of women and men. The notion that men and maleness is superior dictates that men and women behave in particular ways that abide by the rules their sex dictates. For this reason, same-gender loving women and men are perceived as a direct threat to the norms that patriarchy lays out, as they, in their loving, challenge the models of prescribed masculinity and femininity that patriarchy determines. Gay men are a threat as they are perceived as “too feminine,” and lesbian women are perceived as “too masculine.I thought of how dead some words become when they are anchored in cultural and sociological narcissism. How empty of life words become when they come with the name Christian but do not lift up Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Words that defy the light of Scripture become idols and much like stone or wooden idols they have no wisdom or meaning. They are just lies and lies that sound and look like other lies- they are all boring, unimaginative and yes, even deadly.
When I first began writing of Thorson-Smith’s thoughts about patriarchy and LGBT ordination I kept turning to a small book of poetry that I love. I know why now. I was searching past the boring words of radical feminism.
The writer, Irina Ratushinskaya, who at one time was an activist in Russia, an Orthodox Christian and also a poet, spent seven years in prison for her poetry. Her words are beautiful; they do not ring with idol words but with reality. The book of poetry I am reading says of Ratushinskaya and her prison poems, “She copied her poems in a tiny hand onto strips of paper which were hidden and then smuggled out of the camp.”
‘We have learned’
We have learned, indeed, to throw time into tins
And have stirred in the condensed night at all times.
This century grows ever darker, and the next will not come soon,
To wipe clean the names off yesterday’s prison wall.
We loaded it with the voices of departing friends,
With the names of unborn children-for a new wall.
We equipped it so lovingly, but we ourselves
Do not row in it, we are not even allowed on board.
But covering the measured-out load with coarse matting
We still manage to broadcast the seed.
Our hands are torn but we still pluck out the dragon’s
Teeth from the crops, which are fated to stand after us.
These are words that are full of meaning, suffering and speak of preservation as well as despair. The unborn children, whose names the women prisoners write on the wall, will never come because the author and the other women after suffering extreme cold will not be able to conceive children. Hopefully, we who love Jesus and are moved by the Holy Spirit would not write ‘patriarchy’ on any wall or paper but instead passionate beautiful words that flow from faithfulness. Words that sing because the heart, the mind, the hand know Christ.