For the past week or more — these wonderful pullout candles last forever — I’ve been reading Psalm 17 as I lit this candle each night.
I’ve been reading that Psalm as the words of God’s
children people who are being oppressed, marginalized, and even hounded to death simply because they are gay — as God made them.
I must admit, though, I don’t quite read it word for word:
Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
From thee let my vindication come! Let thy eyes see the right!
If thou triest my heart, if thou visitest me by night, if thou testest me, thou wilt find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.
With regard to the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to thy paths, my feet have not slipped.
I call upon thee, for thou wilt answer me, O God; incline thy ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show thy steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at thy right hand.
Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of thy wings,
from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me.
They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They track me down; now they surround me; they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.
They are like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.
Arise, O LORD! confront them, overthrow them! Deliver my life from the wicked by thy sword,
from men by thy hand, O LORD, from men whose portion in life is of the world, though they say it is from you.
May their belly be filled with what thou hast stored up for them; may
their children the second generation have more than enough; may they leave something over to their babes the third generation.
As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with beholding thy form.
So over the past few days, I’ve been noticing the curl of wax that you see at the top of the candle, toward the left …
Toward Dr. Hernandez’s picture.
Now, Don José Gregorio Hernandez was a devout Catholic, celibate all his life, and wanted to be a priest. He died in the early 1920’s, in Venezuela, a generation before “gay rights” was even a phrase.
So why? Why were the spiritual forces around this candle reaching out to this old-fashioned, probably conservative, Christian?
So I turned the candle toward a more appropriate ally, Bayard Rustin, who was himself a gay Christian. Then I looked at Don José again.
He was not happy.
I wondered why he was so involved in healing the folks I was praying for — and healing them from what? I’m not having any of that fake “reparative therapy” in my house, no sir!
I didn’t understand it at all, until I considered what I’d been reading on the internets all day long: articles like these:
- I preached against homosexuality, and I was wrong
- Evangelical shift on gays: Why ‘clobber scriptures’ are losing ground
- I would err on the side of love
Was he looking over my shoulder, perhaps?