A few years back I was asked by a thoughtful young woman why I never use a pronoun for god. My answer was – and is, because I try to speak about god the way god speaks to us – that god is not a static being, but rather a dynamic, restless force in our world. I try my best to use words that reflect the word of god to us, words that inspire and empower us to speak about god first and foremost by acting in ways that are worthy.
I was reminded of this conversation recently when I learned that the Biden administration recently reversed a Trump era rule that allowed taxpayer-funded foster care providers to turn away would-be foster parents because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. What could be less worthy? When so many children need loving homes (a situation that has only been heightened since the start of the pandemic), federal and state policies should encourage placing children with safe and caring families, and religious leaders should prompt them to do so.
Being worthy starts with recognizing that each and every one of us is a child of god. For regardless of whatever or whoever else may claim us, we are claimed first by god – and that fact alone is enough to makes us worthy. So we should all act as the worthy people we are. Fundamental to doing so is recognizing the sacred worth of all others. Put simply, we should be able to expect from others what we expect for ourselves – to be treated as though we are worthy.
When we live as if every one of us is worthy, no matter who they are, no matter whom they love, worthiness becomes the watchword of our humanity.
The reversal of an unfair, unloving, and un-god-like policy is a reason to be hopeful during this most hopeful of seasons. And a reason to celebrate being worthy in the name of god.
Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas is Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and a member of the Interfaith Coalition for Children’s Rights.