2012-09-25

Radical Inclusivity

"Just love." Don’t you love that double meaning? In one sense, "just love" is love that is fair and just. That's important because sometimes sexual expression can be unjust. In another sense, "just love" is what we get when we pare away the projections, unrealistic expectations, and disappointments, and get down to nothin' but the love.

"The journey of love is a very long journey," as Mohammed Iqbal said. "But sometimes with a sigh you can cross that vast desert."

At the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, we’re kicking off our social justice year this week. Our social justice council has selected a theme for the year: “Beyond the Welcoming Congregation: Becoming Radically Inclusive.”

Officially, “Welcoming Congregation” is a designation meaning that this congregation has gone through training and awareness about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender issues. We’ve done some work to be welcoming to the LGBT community. Back in 1994, we had a series of workshops and discussions, and we earned our denomination’s accreditation as a “Welcoming Congregation” – the first congregation in Florida to earn that distinction. Today, 30 Unitarian Universalist congregations in Florida have that distinction, and about 3/4ths of our congregations nationwide. A lot has changed since 1994, and in 2007 we had a follow-up Adult Religious Education to learn more and maybe reach some of the members who weren’t members back in 1994.

Our ongoing efforts to bring ever-greater understanding and support to the LGBT community continue every month when our Interweave group meets, every second Sunday evening of the month, right here, at 6:30. It’s potluck, so bring a dish, and your appetite.

Every Order of Service at UUFG says it right there on the front cover:
"We are a Welcoming Congregation. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville seeks to foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. If you are lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, or if you think you might be, we welcome you to join with us – to participate fully and openly in our congregational life.”
That’s being a Welcoming Congregation. We say it, and we aren’t always perfect at it, but we do say it and we do try to live by it.

Our social justice council is calling on us to go beyond the welcoming congregation – to become radically inclusive. What does that mean, radically inclusive?

Whatever you might opine about the divinity or nondivinity of one Jesus of Nazareth, he had, or had attributed to him, some wise words on the subject of radical inclusivity. (He may also have had, we found out this week, a wife – which may have had some effect on his views of radical inclusivity, I don’t know.) Within the conventional canon, Matthew 5: 43-48, we read that Jesus says:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect [i.e. whole, complete, mature], therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Loving even your enemies would be a key part of radical inclusivity. So who are your enemies? And what does loving them mean? Good questions!

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This is part 1 of 5 of "Just Love: Sexual Ethics Today"
Next: Part 2: "The Package Deal"