Right now we have several people declared and several more on their way to declare their intentions to run for President of the United States of America.
I am less publicly political than I was 8 years ago. Somewhat because my positions have changed in some regards, and in someway because I am more cynical of the American political process than I was 8 years ago. After all, after Citizen’s United, among other issues, I have to wonder if candidates are not simply puppets.
During the coming months, we will hear once again that one person of this party cannot be a Christian. We will, again, see Christianity and American’ity combined so that it is suggested Jesus died for us and our voting rights. Real issues will be ignored.
Right now, the two media frontrunners are Hillary and Jeb. Unlike John Quincy Adams (and generation removed from his father), Benjamin Harrison (the grandson of a president), and Franklin Roosevelt (a cousin of a president), we have two candidates of the exact same generation as a former president – a former president still alive. This dynastic tendency worries me.
I could comment on individual candidates, but I won’t. I will simply try to remember that those Christians — and those Americans — with whom I disagree are no less Christian or American than I. And we have to stop it from seeping into our local congregations.
I do not believe in censoring and I believe differences of opinion are essential to growing as people. Yesterday, my friend and co-blogger Scott wrote a post that my other friend, Bob Chapman, took issue with. I invited Bob write a response. Below is that response.
So, how should a person of devout belief who owns a store act when a customer wishes to make a purchase for something that you feel goes against your beliefs?
My initial answer to Mr. Fritzsche on the blog post was an answer looking at the question from a legal standpoint. However, I am going to answer this time from the standpoint of faith. Let’s use the law as Paul said to use it, as our nanny preparing us for grace, and move on to looking at this from the point of view of Scripture.
So, how did Jesus teach those outside his community of faith? There are multiple examples of Jesus being engaging and welcoming of those who were outside the community.
In one case, Jesus engaged with a Samaritan woman. Which is more surprising for a Jewish male when Jesus lived: talking to a woman or talking to a Samaritan? Yet, Jesus actually identified himself as the Messiah to the Samaritan woman at the well. This was a shamed person living with a man outside of marriage. Who else did Jesus directly self-identify as the Messiah?
In another case, Jesus called a Canaanite woman a dog (or maybe a bitch who was pestering him?). Yet, Jesus granted her request by healing her daughter.
Does this sound like not engaging with someone outside your tradition because that person isn’t living the way you would like? Is that what Jesus did?
I wonder how Barronelle Stutzman would react if, for an important life event, a person of a progressive position with whom she had done business with for around a decade decide to stop doing business with her support of her support of something on an election ballot. Washington State has had a few things besides marijuana that has separated the liberals and the conservatives in the state:
Support for Clint Didier. I don’t know if Stutzman supported Didier, but he is a religious conservative living in a nearby county.
Saying that she voted against Referendum 74 (Benton County rejected gay marriage with 63% of the voters).
My guess is that Stutzman would not care to listen to anything the progressive had to say to her again. Maybe that is one of the reasons for Summary of the Law?
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
If we are to be leaven to change the world, we have to be living with people in the world. We have to be taking part in what is going on in the world. We have to treat others with the same respect with which we want to be treated. Only then will our point of view be given a hearing.
As a whole, the people of Washington State are among the least religious in the country. Can Christians, whether progressive or conservative, afford to alienate those who aren’t Christians in such a climate?
There is also another reason to treat others with the same respect with which we would want to be treated. We just might be wrong. Being wrong from a position of faith is still being wrong.
Has Stutzman considered the implications of what it might mean for “…the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18.1)?
(As some of you are having a knee-jerk reaction right now, I’ll remind you that the definition of homosexuality does not require a person to have sexual relations with another person of the same sex, only to love a person of the same sex. And David’s statement in 2 Samuel 1 about Jonathan should give you even more pause when you know the actual definition of homosexuality.)
Maybe, in the end, Stutzman needs to consider what Paul said. “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13.2).
Actually, that is good advice for all of us. It isn’t enough to be right or mean well. Do we love? My guess is that all of us come up short in that department. God isn’t finished with any of us yet, I’m afraid.
(All scripture quoted from the New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized Edition.)
Robert Chapman is an active Episcopalian living in Everett, Washington—about 30 miles north of Seattle. He has been a technical communicator for 25 years, mostly working for IT and aerospace firms during that time. When he can’t do it, he dreams about riding his Honda VTX 1800 motorcycle through the second best scenery in the United States (only second to West Virginia).
As we gaze at our TV screens these days and se the barbarities, as we face the capabilities of other humans who share and breath the same oxygen as we do, live under the same bright sky as we do, of committing atrocities against their fellow humans we find within ourselves a sense of self-righteous comfort in knowing that we would never do these things and that it would be unthinkable for us to belong to a group, a culture, a religion that would practice such atrocities. Well, think again!
We may justify certain acts committed by people whose stories we revere today stating that “it was another time, another reality” but do we really know that “our group, religion or culture” once practiced the same gory acts of vengeance, murder, ethnic cleansing and religious purging that the Islamic extremists are now practicing?
What if there were cameras?
What to say of Samuel cutting Agag as narrated in 1 Samuel 15:33? What to say of the son of a Dodo a killer of such nature that the “hand clave to his sword”, an atrophy that practically engrafted the sword to his hand (I Sam 23:9-10 don’t mind if you’re a Dodo, you may bear killers one day). What if there were cameras filming it and showing for all the world to see in the nightly news? Oh, that without speaking of David beheading Goliath; It is not a farfetched thought that if we could see it on the TV screen, David would have us up to the time that rock hit Goliath’s forehead, but, he certainly would have lost our support the minute we would see him chopping the big guy’s head!
I could go on and on with examples, but, then again, allow me: what if there were cameras when Calvin consented in Servetus execution? When the atrocities of the Crusaders were practiced? Think about it!
All these shows that we as humans are capable of doing the most heinous, the evilest of acts in the name of that which we deem sacred and unchangeable! It also enhances and gives a total new perspective and meaning to the teachings of Jesus, the Christ: “love your enemies; bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you!” – This teaching really highlights what real Christianity is! Look at Paul: “even if my body is given to be burned” (perhaps in martyrdom) if I had no love it would mean nothing; Check Peter, writing to a church under persecution he says: “Do not repay evil for evil, just be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you”. In studying early Christianity, those first brethren understood nothing of vengeance and hatred; they even took the words of Jesus literally, imagine that! They believed that “no one has greater love than this: than laying his own life down for his friends” was a call to die for their friends in the new found faith! Yes, what a concept! They took the words of Jesus literally!
Christianity, the “Judeo-Christian” thinking of today cannot and should not be so “nowistic” so as to ignore its own past of blood, heinous acts of revenge, “an eye for many eyes”, and protect your religious and cultural, and, in the case of the Church, your doctrinal purity, at all cost, including burning people at the steak, murdering, plundering, or throwing their enemies in prison with no trial, or any type of justice that we are so arrogantly proud of dispensing today.
Have that in mind: nothing today is as Christian as Christ intended. We are not better than anyone for being “judeo-christian”! If there were scenes preserved from a blood-stained past, would feel as self-righteous as we feel today as we look upon another human being burned while his executioners cheer and chant praises to their God? Remember the words of the one who said “love your enemies” or “forgive so you will be forgiven”: “…there will be a time that one who kills you will deem to be (in killing you) doing a service to God…” – Jesus knew how to predict extremist religion of any kind!