3.7.13

Boy Scouts, Gay Pride, and the Very Best Fourth of July Parade Ever

Tomorrow morning I will get up early and march with my youngest son in our local 4th of July Parade. It's  smallish local parade. No giant Underdog or Bullwinkle balloon will be spotted. Just miles of Shriners wearing Fez, high school marching bands, clowns, mimes, scouts, and, yes, a smattering of transvestites.

I can verify the presence of  the transvestites because a handful of years ago in the parade I marched for two miles behind a six-foot-something trannie in fabulous heels and sheer purple dress that revealed the shadows of a black thong.

That's two miles of scouts asking "Why are they dressed like that? Why are they doing that?"

A few gratuitous, "Dude looks like a lay-dee"'s were tossed in as well.

That's two miles of one particularly oafish scout dad whispering ugly slurs into my ear and complaining about the parade organizers' decision.

That's two miles of me noticing members of my congregation trying to make sense of one of their pastors leading young boys on a walk behind the gay pride group. 

Jerk Dad blamed the parade organizers not paying more attention to the order of the groups in the parade.Looking back, I choose to point the finger at God. He has a long M.O. of using juxtaposition to make a point. There are several points in the Bible where chronological order of a narrative is sacrificed to make a theological point. In Exodus, the instructions about the building of the tabernacle are juxtapositioned next to the account of the golden calf to say something about the true and corrupt worship of God. In the Gospels, the faith of someone in the Sinner Class is butted up against the cold legalism of the religionists to make a point about the spirituality God respects. So maybe it's not a reach to think God placed the scouts behind the gay pride group, and me behind the behind of the tall transvestite, to make a point to someone.

And maybe the only someone God was speaking to was me.  

I remember realizing my biggest obligation in the moment was to be an example to the boys that meant showing them what it looked like to love their neighbor without looking for the non-existent escape clause. So I answered their "why are they doing that?"'s with "I don't know, but we aren't going to giggle or name call. Period." During a parade rest I went to the group shook a few hands, smiled, and introduced myself. Nothing heroic, but showing the boys what I expected from them. I wasn't aware of Boy Scout's policies toward homosexuals at the time. In retrospect, they were remarkably friendly back, considering they were shaking hands with a pastor attached to volunteer organization that famously excluded their ilk. 

Somewhere along the line, Jerk Dad found another ear to whisper into.We all got through the parade with the candy tossed and mild sun burns, whether we wore heels or Keds, and went home to grill rib-eyes and brats, and take in  fireworks, over the bay or on PBS. No harm was done other than I can never un-see that boxy ass in the two sizes too small dress. 

And that juxtaposition. I left reminded that no one gets to choose their neighbor and that our world seems to be shrinking, and our conflicting ethics, moralities, and theologies are going to keep brushing up against each other, and that conflict along the way will be inevitable. Jesus knew all this, of course, but refused to allow for an escape clause in the Second Commandment.And we all, regardless of our unique perspectives and convictions, are obligated to solve that riddle together.


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In the interest of clarity: I did not offer any positions on the morality of homosexuality in this post and don't intend to in the comments. I can't think of many things more insensitive and more prone to fruitless debate than that. This is a post about the second commandment, nothing more, nothing less. We can, all get behind Jesus on the Second Commandment, I think. 


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