I was born on the wrong side of the walls of Jericho.
I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve built my house here, made a life here. My friends and neighbours are here. My people. My home.
We are a massive population, although sometimes compared to what’s outside we seem quite small. Atheists and agnostics, apostates and in-betweens. There are gays and lesbians, queer, bisexual, transgendered. Single mothers, Romani travellers, the poor, the dispossessed, the immigrants, the disenfranchised, the women, the children. A multitude every color and creed and race and orientation have built a city together. They live and love together. Their children play together.
I was born inside the walls of Jericho. And I’ve lived here all my life. And I would never leave, not for anything and anyone.
We have come here for different reasons. Some of us were born here, others came of their own accord. Some were thrown in here. Tossed over the walls like so much rubbish. Not all of them land safely. We catch as many as we can, but there are some injuries that can never be healed. We tend to those as best we know how.
I am living inside the walls of Jericho. And outside, I can hear the trumpets playing.
The army camped outside our walls flies many banners and goes by many names. Catholics, Evangelicals, Sunnis, Orthodox, Shi’ites, and more. They are marching around our walls. They are blowing trumpets. They are shouting war cries.
They will not stop until the walls fall down and they rush to put an end to us.
They are not content in that we live behind these walls. They are not content because we live.
We are still cleaning the wreckage from the most recent battle. Last week, World Vision announced that they would allow people who are both LGBT and married to work in their company. The trumpets from the Evangelical encampment sounded, and 2,000 children were left without the funding they depended on. The citizens of Jericho brought in as many as we could. And then, almost in the space of a heartbeat, World Vision reversed course and flew the Evangelical banner high, joining step with their generals around the city that was now feeding the children the Evangelical army abandoned.
And then, curiously there was an immigration into Jericho. An immigration of Christians, people who where horrified and appalled at the monstrosity of their comrades. People who realised that to remove food from a starving child’s mouth in order to kick down the people stuck in Jericho was evil. Was wrong. Was indefensible.
They came to us, talking about setting tables up in the wilderness, eating together with us. They told tales of throwing off the Evangelical banner, of leaving the army and the war behind. They asked to set up a banquet with us. To eat among us. Among the LGBT and the poor and the immigrant. Among our people.
Are they welcome here? Yes.
Do I believe they will stay?
Because in every city of Jericho, there’s always a Rahab.
Rahab, looking out to the Evangelical banners. Rahab, longing for them to come in. Rahab, harbouring the spies and lowering the scarlet cord.
I read an article from Jen Hatmaker today. She preached a message of love towards her LGBT neighbours. She encouraged others to treat them with respect and honour as Jesus would have. But with the caveat, always with the reminder, that their loves and lives and marriages aren’t right. Aren’t good. Aren’t what her deity wants or desires. And she is assured that breaking these people down again, invalidating their very lives, is alright. Because she is doing it in love.
And I literally screamed in rage. And others screamed with me. NO NO NO. You don’t get to do this. You cannot tell these people that their marriages are worth less than yours. They are in Jericho now. They are my people. You have walked into this city still blowing the trumpet you brought in from the siege.
So either cut your scarlet cord, or leave this city. Jericho is not a place where people’s lives and marriages are up for your debate.
The Christians who joined us in the city now want to fling open the gates and let the army march in. They want the walls to fall. They want the walls of Jericho to come tumbling down because they believe that we can all live together in peace. That we can disagree on issues but camp together as neighbours and friends.
But oh, Christians, when will you learn? Haven’t 2,000 years of Church history taught you the lesson?
Those of you saying you want to be here and remain Evangelical, keep a camp in the army outside, not cut your ties with your comrades in Christ, you are lowering a tapestry of scarlet threads down the walls of the city. It’s the people you are eating at the table with who are going to pay the price.
What Evangelicals did in regards to World Vision was evil. When you throw children off for the sake of your bigotry, that is the face of evil.
You cannot align yourself with evil and live in Jericho. We all have flaws here. We all hurt people. But our neighbours come first. Religious banners, if flown, have no authourity here.
Welcome to the wrong side of the walls of Jericho. You are welcome here. You ARE welcome here.
But scarlet cords are not.