10 April 2013

My Unequivocal Yes

Have you seen this?

I'd never heard this song until about 10 minutes ago.

Music is so powerful.  It touches us in ways that make us say, "Yeah ... that's what I've been feeling!!"  And this is exactly one of those times.

I've never made it a secret that I support "gay rights."  I use the phrase in quotations because the reality is, I support rights for everyone.  Gay, white, Protestant, Muslim, Immigrant, felon, citizen, child ...."  I don't understand why we as a nation get so scared of allowing other people to have the rights that we have and that our founders gave us in print - "all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Why are we so scared to honor that?
Why do we feel like allowing people to have rights threatens ours?
Why do we wrestle with the humanness of others?

I'm not talking about morality.  It's fine with me if your church or denomination or institution or pastor or Imam or holy writing calls you to a standard that mine does not.

But why does that get mixed in with our politics?

We cry and scream for separation of church and state when we don't want the government to tell our religious institutions what medications our insurance has to cover, but we want our government to turn our religious beliefs around a particular moral standard into law.  I simply don't understand.  Do we want separation of church and state or do we not?

Do we want religious freedom?
Or do we want the government legislating our faith?

Because we can't pick and choose.

It's not fair to ask the government to impose our understanding of morality on one issue but to look the other way and allow us to do what we want on another issue.

And moreso, the white American Protestant church is not persecuted by the government.  If your definition of persecution is paying a tax that allows someone else to live a healthier life, you need to do some research on the persecution happening to the church in other parts of the world.

The song says this:

When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned

I hear quite often, "I don't hate 'them' (them being whoever is the focus of this particular argument): I love them.  But I hate their sin."  Let me ask you this: how would you feel if you heard in church, "I don't hate parents.  I hate the fact that they chose to procreate.  They should have adopted kids.  It's morally wrong to give birth in a world that desperately needs parents to care for the orphans.  Until they choose to give up their biological kids and start adopting, I can't welcome them.  They don't follow God's clear Biblical teaching."

Or what if the topic was gossip?
Or overeating?
Or our unwillingness to share with prisoners and strangers?

Hate is hate.
Whether it's masked in love of the person or not.

If the church (mine included) is soaking in our own tub of holy water, we've completely missed it.

Jesus didn't get killed for being too holy.
Jesus got killed because he constantly pushed back - not against the government - against the church!
Yep.  Think about it.
Jesus challenged the church to accept more people.
To open worship to women and sinners and tax collectors and half-breeds.
To love those who had never been allowed in.
To make space at the table for those who made you ceremonially unclean.

That's what got Jesus killed.

He refused to soak in the poisoned water of the church.

No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it's all the same love

No matter where you stand on a particular law, it won't change your life if you don't let it.  If gay marriage is legalized, you'll still be free to despise it.  You'll still be free to refuse to marry a homosexual couple in your church.  You'll still be free not to associate with same-sex couples.  Giving rights to another does not take away your rights.

No law can change you.  Only you can change you.  (And - I would argue - the Spirit at work if you're willing to allow it!)  So why all the fuss?  If you don't want to change your beliefs, don't.

What changing the law DOES, though, is to change the nation's statement.  Rather than saying, "All are equal except ....," we live into who we were founded to be: a nation intent on keeping one church (the Church of England) from telling everyone how they had to worship and live.

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind

Do we love people enough to be kind?  Do we love those of another faith enough to make space for them in our nation?  Do we have the patience and kindness that keeps us from feeling threatened because someone else has the same things we have?

I love the Church.
I always have.

And I will continue to love the church.
Despite her flaws.
I will continue to push back against the structures of this country's political and religious institutions, though.  I will continue to ask the hard questions.

In some places that will get me in trouble.  It will cost me things.

But it will not cost me my life.
It will not cost me my faith system.
It will not cost me the relationships of those I hold most dear.

It will cost me some other things - things that I hold less valuable than being faithful to what I believe God has called me to do.

I'm willing to sacrifice those things if need be.
I'm willing to err on the side of love.
The side of kindness and patience.

If I stand before God in judgment and find out that same sex marriage really was despised by God, my answer will be, "I tried.  I tried to act in love and grace and kindness.  Maybe I got it wrong on the detail, but I loved the heck out of them!"

I believe that's what God wants more than anything.

I don't believe God is going to ask me to articulate parts of my theology:
how long did Creation take?
was Jesus literally raised from the dead?
did the American church do enough politically?

I believe if I'm asked anything it will be, "Did you love them?"

And I want to be able to say unequivocally yes.

So I will always err on the side of love and grace and acceptance.

My hope and prayer for the American church is that we'll learn to love first and ask questions of theology last.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful, Erin! I first heard the song when I bought the CD. I remember thinking, "Wow! That's really bold." Then, about a month later, I heard the song on the radio and said, "Swan in a ditch! Now that's a statement right there." Sign of the end of the world or of God's kingdom? That's the choice we have, and too many churches are choosing what I believe is the wrong path. Thanks for sharing your heart so wonderfully.