With the historic ruling this week by our Supreme Court on same-sex marriage we have been inundated with media coverage of responses from both sides of the issue. I understand that emotions run high on issues like this one, but I also know we still need to speak and react in responsible ways, especially if we step out to offer what we suppose would be God’s commentary on events, or more specifically, commentary from Jesus.
I was honestly, totally, down-right majorly peaved off when I saw this Tweet start making some headlines, from Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee), My thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: “Jesus wept.” He also Tweeted this gem, 5 people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of CA and Congress combined. And bigger than God. May He forgive us all.
Now, first I want to give the one nod to the Gov. that he’ll get from me, the fact that he began the “Jesus wept” Tweet with the words “My thoughts on…” But that’s all the praise he’ll get from this Pastor after moving on to a complete misuse of the tears of Jesus to essentially make Jesus appear as the enemy of our gay neighbors. Wrong, sir. For the love of all that is Holy, stop it! Here’s a bit of the text the Gov. quotes from, John 11:32-37:
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34“Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Let’s just break a few things down, shall we? Why did Jesus weep in that famously short verse the Gov. quoted? He wept over the death of a good friend whom he loved. He wept with hurting people, hurting friends. The weeping of Jesus is not a rejection of anyone, but a connection to all hurting people. Jesus wept in love, sorrow, loss and the experience of both his own pain and empathetically the pain of those around him.
To take the empathetic, beautiful weeping of our Lord and turn it into a hateful rejection of our neighbors’ search for civil justice is despicable and unGodly in the extreme. As a Pastor, I renounce this distortion of my Lord, I renounce the Gov.’s words and intentions. The Gov. rightly speaks for himself, himself alone. If he cannot do better textual work than that, he needs to shut his mouth and spend some more time in study and prayer.
Why take the time to blog on this? Because every voice that counters that kind of textual abuse is needed. Our gay neighbors who have so long been civilly disenfranchised from basic spousal rights and privileges have a lot of reason to celebrate this week. And to posit the idea that Jesus would weep at their joy, weep at their liberty, weep at this corrected injustice, is horribly wrong. In fact, I find it counter to the Jesus who wept at that scene in John 11. I find it counter to the Jesus who wept in love, not in rejection of people’s joy and liberty.
I respect the Gov.’s right to speak his own mind, hold his own opinions, and even maintain his own beliefs of what his faith may or may not say about same-sex marriage and attractions. To deny the Gov. his liberty would only lessen the hard won liberty bestowed on his gay neighbors this week by the Supreme Court. But I will not respect, condone or be silent at the abusive misuse of Jesus for the Gov.’s political, social or ratings gain.
Just as a reminder, back when so many children were viciously gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary, when it would have been SO INCREDIBLY CORRECT to say that “Jesus wept,” the Gov. chose instead to rail on his political stump against gun control. He says something about slipping over to the “pastor side” and then speaking in blame about a mythical removal of God from schools. Why not let Jesus weep then with those hurting people? Why not let God be seen in the amazing person of Jesus, present with us and hurting with us and ready to make any journey with us, on good days and horribly bad days? Because the Gov. did not ever slip to the “pastor side” of things, but instead remained intrenched in his political/social agenda.
There is a lot more injustice to be righted in our country. There are still many disenfranchised neighbors waiting for us to move in their favor and right the wrongs that have often shaped their lives to their loss. God is not ignorant of their tears, even if pastors sometimes are. Jesus weeps with them, never against them, regardless of any pastor’s personal agenda.
Welcome news was seen today that the idea of having a Congress that does the work of the people is not a completely lost or antiquated idea. A high profile loss for the NRA should encourage all of us who believe that the Senate should be swayed by the will of the people, not the will of special interest lobbyist groups such as the NRA.
What really threatens our Liberty?
I hope there continues to be a growing realization about today’s NRA. When they position themselves as a bullying lobbyist group that opposes such needed and wanted bipartisan legislation, crafted by the moderates of both parties, they do two things: 1) they move themselves into the disconnectedness and irrelevancy of all extremism, and 2) in my humble opinion come dangerously close to subverting our liberty as American citizens by leveraging fear and money to sway our legislature away from what is blatantly an overwhelming desire of the American people. This is where I fear our liberty is at stake… not in having to pass a background check to buy a gun, but in our ability to elect people to a Congress that will reflect the will of the American people.
As for me, I will continue to stand with Gabrielle Giffords and all who believe in a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” not perishing from the earth, even in the face of powerful lobbying like the NRA and the weapons industry. The following quote just doesn’t get old….
“Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.”
~ Gabrielle Giffords
There is a comment thread in my first post on same-sex marriage that I will respond to here in this post. I’d like to make a couple of points that might get lost in just replying in that thread…
A reader named Deanna asked me to go look at a blog which leveled the charge of “idolatry” at people of faith who do not condemn their gay neighbors and same-sex marriage. My friend Greg went and read it and responded, and I checked out as well. Here are a couple of points I’d make…
First Point: Name calling is just too easy and evasive.
There are so many arenas on the web to talk about and debate what the scriptures actually say about same-sex attractions or practices, and I really encourage people to dig in and try to answer some of the tough questions surrounding the issue of same-sex activities recorded in the scriptures and how we interpret them, if living by the scriptures is one of your personal drives. I will say that I agree with Greg on his take on the referred article… too simplistic and unfair. It’s far too easy to simply accuse people you don’t agree with as idolaters. When you can’t hold a substantive argument, the recourse should be doing more scholarly homework, not resorting to name calling.
Maybe, one day soon I’ll unpack my reading of scripture and same-sex attractions and relationships here, at least as I have come to believe and read the scriptures. I am someone who holds scriptures at the core of my life and thought, dependent on and grateful for them.
However, in my previous blog post, though I did mention own belief that a same-sex orientation is not antithetical to my faith, all the ideas I expressed were about removing inequalities in our civil laws about marriages and it’s benefits. The article to which I was referred at least began at the marriage question, but only as a spring-board to move to other things, like name-calling in disagreement. Why change the subject? Scallia’s exchange was interesting, but hardly definitive.
The bottom line is that I am happy to respect anyone’s right to hold a view on same-sex marriage and to have their own thoughts on same-sex orientation, but I am not happy to have anyone’s views unnecessarily held above their neighbor’s views to their neighbor’s detriment. That is not “neighborly,” nor kind nor civil.
Second Point: Has no one ever taught us to disagree?
I’m afraid that people of faith who do believe that same-sex attractions and relationships are antithetical to their faith are missing a great opportunity to grow in their own beliefs and at the same time make a fair, just statement to their neighbors who believe differently. I wonder why we so often think that someone’s differing opinion undermines our own? Universal agreement is certainly not the best test for one’s own convictions.
Suppose that more traditional thinking people of faith who opposed same-sex mariage would say something liek this:
“Well, it is a ‘free country’ and you are responsible for your own life. So I will not try to get in your way on such a personal issue that involves consenting adults living their lives. By the way, if you ever want to consider my views on the issue, I’d be glad to buy you a cup of coffee and chat.”
Such an offer may not get many takers, but it’d be respected far more than shrill name calling and denial of people’s civil rights.
People of faith have been disagreeing poorly for a long time, so I don’t blame our current generations for the problem. I do however think we could make some real strides forward on disagreeing better. We can be part of the solution!
This is especially needed when we are thrown in the public spotlight. I grew up in churches that happily argued and condemned each other all the time, relishing the delight of publishing scathing articles about another congregation, a college or some preacher who disagreed with their view. The worst days were when one congregation would take out a full-page ad in the local paper to condemn another. What a horrible witness to the reconciling power of Christ.
People of faith who want to point to the faith of the writers of our national documents like the Declaration of Independence and Constitution should be humbled that faith had such a grand part of crafting these documents of freedom and liberty, not restriction and denial. Faith helped create the guarantees of freedom that we now debate in our national conversation and in the highest court of the land. In such a national arena we need to recognize that our views and opinions are best shared with respect, dignity and a large dose of humility.