Amazing Grace is currently one of my favorite movies. I sometimes wonder where I would have stood on the issues during that restless period. I mean, it seems so obvious now, but there were a lot of people who were involved in shipping and support industries, and many pulpits taught that slavery was right based on many different perceptions of Biblical teaching, not the least of which was that there was absolutely no condemnation of the practice to be found in the Bible. Besides, cheap sugar is a really desirable thing, isn't it? I like to think that i would have been one of the people who supported the long long drive to outlaw the slave trade in spite of the fact that it would do real financial hardship to me.
Or I fantasize that I was a slave holding Quaker at the beginning of Woolman's long ministry when the movement of the spirit to convince Friends that slavery is wrong was just starting to reach its "stride." Would I consider that treating my slaves with compassion as urged by Paul was the only requirement of my Christian duty? Or would I recognize that the very concept of owning another person was impossible in the light of equality in God's sight? I like to think that I would have seen that and had the courage of my convictions to face my neighbors' anger and outright persecution both for the way I had treated my slaves and for the decision to set them free as so many were forced to give up home and a whole lifestyle and move from the South just to ensure that their freed slaves were allowed to keep their freedom.
And I dream that there is a similar movement of the Spirit going on today to help us realize that people should not be marginalized and persecuted for sexual needs and perceptions which are simply within the range of human diversity and no threat or harm to the great majority who happen to be closer to the center of that range. I like to think that I would be able to see that and to try to find ways to communicate that perception in love in the face of scorn and prejudice and even Biblical perceptions that inform so many of those churches which seem to be more concerned with law and letter than with spirit. I have to wonder what it would look like for even those groups to really apply the message of God's unconditional love and Jesus' urging that we be like God in that even though they may have reservations about conduct they don't understand and think is wrong.
Fantasies........ I wonder.*
*I just signed on to Hystery's post on the same subject entered about 10 hours before mine: http://hystery.blogspot.com/2009/07/john-woolman-gay-rights-and-quakers.html
Great minds think alike? I wish I could claim that, but the timing is interesting.