The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.


So I'm debating whether or not to even post this.  Part of me thinks that I need to be polite, and respectful, and to let this pass without public comment.

Then another part of me says that I need to stand up publicly for what I believe.  So I'm composing it without a decision, as yet, as to whether or not I will publish it.

Sunday I walked out of church for the first time in my life.  And I have sat through some painful, horrible services.  But this week, I had the rug pulled out from under me - an emotional sucker-punch, as I put it in my facebook status.

Most of you probably know how I feel about the issue of gay rights, in particular the right to same-sex marriage.  On Sunday, our visiting preacher told us that only in a godless society could we think it's okay to vote in favor of gay marriage, abortion, or condom distribution.

So since I guess I'm godless, I got up and left.

Fortunately, there were a handful of other dissidents who had done the same, and we finished service in the parking lot, encouraging each other and commiserating.

I had a friend ask me tonight how I rationalize being a Christian with supporting gay marriage and adoption.  (This in response to a facebook status lamenting the absolute trampling of those rights that happened in the polls today.)  Here is what I told him: 

No, I understand. I believe, from what I read of Jesus' life, that he calls his followers to an absolute high standard of morality. Believers are called to hold each other accountable.

However, beyond our walls, he tells us to feed the poor, care for the sick, visit prisoners, etc. In other words, in my understanding, to make sure that everyone has the same quality of life that I do. Not to spend our time telling people how to live their lives. That's what he condemned the Pharisees for.

The legal right to marriage is very different from the sacrament. What the legal right entails are things like the right to decide medical care when your spouse is incapacitated, the right to have a shared health insurance, the right to inheritance, etc. Marriage is one of the most basic civil rights in America. People can marry who cannot legally enter a contract or stand trial. If two men or women want to make a legal commitment to one another, I feel like they should have the right to do so.

If we're worried about the "state of marriage" in America, we need to spend some time and energy dealing with the rampant divorce, adultery, abuse, neglect, etc., going on in hetero marriages in the church. Classic speck in your own eye, if you ask me.

In the meantime, the best way to show God's love is to give this community the same rights we would want and expect once they've decided to build a life together. A decision that we can't control one way or another, in the end.

I know not everyone agrees with me, and why, and I respect it. In contrast to those who would claim that true Christians must all be led to the same conclusions by the Spirit and march in lockstep, I've come to believe that the Spirit leads us to different convictions and conclusions so that many more things can be accomplished in the name of the Lord. After all, if we were all focused on the problem of abortion, then poverty or disease might not get any attention. If we all spend our energy building a children's ministry, and ignore the seniors at a church, the kingdom suffers. We need people willing to be passionate and committed and work in all areas. I think this is just part of that.

Anyway, this is a short summary, but I hope it helps. Regardless of the outcome we've seen tonight, I feel more optimistic about our ability, as a nation, to put differences aside and come together to confront the problems we're wading through now.

And so I'm watching to see what the fallout will be at our congregation.  I hope that this is a fluke - an example of a guest speaker not knowing his audience.  I'm not offended that his politics are different than mine, but that he chose to express his opinion in a way that denigrated and condemned my own, and in the process alienated a good number of people who were on the bubble, at Otter Creek to see what this Jesus character is all about.  Now they see that Jesus' followers are as hateful and judgmental as they'd heard.  They won't be back, I guarantee it.  This man has successfully driven them away from God, probably not what he thought he was doing with his lesson.

It hurt, on a personal level, because my beliefs have been informed by my faith and study in Christ, and not in the least by influence from any "godless" source, whatever that is.

In the end, I think that human dignity is one of God's primary concerns - at least as far as we are called and expected to act.  Telling someone that they don't have the right to take care of their loved ones in the same way that heterosexuals do is denying the homosexual community a recognition of their dignity and worth as creations beloved of my God.

If anything, though, I've seen tonight that America is capable of change, of broadening our horizons and becoming a better society.  We saw tonight the results of previous generations challenging perceptions and beliefs.  I'll be able to tell my kids that I voted for the nation's first African American president.  A hundred years ago, that was as feared and hated as gay marriage is now, and so I'm hopeful that change can and will come, and hopefully much more quickly.

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