Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Let's be clear. That preacher is NOT a follower of Jesus.

As we approach May 8, the public discourse around Amendment One has gotten ugly. Last Sunday was the day the pastors who favor the Amendment chose to preach about it. You may have heard about one sermon in Fayetteville in which the pastor not only voiced his support of Amendment One, but he also encouraged his listeners to physically abuse their children if they ever display any behavior that they think might be typical gay behavior -- a boy with effeminate mannerisms, a girl who is a little too butch. He said, “Dads, the second you see your son dropping a limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok?”

That is so wrong on so many levels, not the least of which is that it is someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus who said it. So let’s be clear. This preacher is NOT a follower of Jesus.

There is a recent study that suggests there actually may be a correlation between being “highly religious” and a lack of empathy. Here’s what one of the co-authors of the study says: “Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not. The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.”

In other words, the more religious you are, the less likely it may be that you can really love other people. Ironic, isn’t it? Isn’t loving one another the big thing Jesus asks us to do? And yet, are good religious people just doing it because it’s what they’re supposed to do? When they hear the words, “we love because God first loved us”, is it just a quid pro quo arrangement? God did this for me, so now I have to do this for God? It may seem to them that what they're doing is loving. But that’s not how it works.

In next Sunday’s gospel lesson we will read that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. When we abide in our vine Jesus, we bear fruit. The fruit is love. We don't have to make it so, it just is. Because that's how Jesus is. How can it be anything else? That’s how it works.

What does that love look like? Is it just doing loving stuff for other people? Is it basically something that’s done for show, because we’re supposed to do it? Or does it come from a place within us? Is it because we’re abiding in Jesus and that’s what happens when people abide in Jesus?

Yesterday, my friend Michelle shared the pain she experiences every time she sees a Vote for Marriage sign in someone’s yard. I think many of us feel the same way. But what was noteworthy was the reason these signs hurt her so much. She’s a straight person, so it wasn’t personal. And it also was more than just the fact that she opposes Amendment One. She said that every time she saw one of those signs she wanted to cover it because she thought, “someone who is gay saw that sign today, and it did something to them inside.” That’s empathy, folks. It’s a place of love, and it’s where abiding in Jesus takes you. If you’re not there, you’re not abiding in Jesus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I am also deeply disappointed by the turn of the "discussion" on The Stupid Amendment and I appreciate your thoughts. I also appreciate the thoughts of your friend, Michelle.

As a straight person, I also feel terrible about the impact of all the venom on good people (as well as the deleterious effect on civil discourse, the waste of time and money on all this, and the effect it's having on supporters - hardening their hearts toward their fellow man).

But I wouldn't be honest if I didn't fear the Amendment's direct impact on me. I have never married and have a college-age daughter. This Amendment could effect *MY* life and none of those effects will be good.

I'm trying to be empathetic and "big" here, but I have to admit to some selfishness as I work to have the Amendment defeated.

Mr. Bear