To recall: On June 17th, a young white male walked into an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina during a bible study. After sitting with the group for a while, he began shooting—killing nine black people (including the pastor). The alleged gunman was later caught and told authorities that race—particularly his wanting to start a race war—was the motive behind the massacre. (To the dismay of many in this church body, the gunman was identified as a member of an ELCA church, and two of his victims had attended an ELCA seminary.) This soon erupted into a discussion surrounding the Confederate flag that still flies in many public areas (and sometimes over governmental buildings) in a number of southern states, including where this horrible atrocity took place. For many, this symbol represents racism and needs to be taken down, whereas for others, the historicity of the flag is at risk of being removed. Nine days later, on June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States voted 4-3 to legalize same sex marriage in all 50 states. For various different reasons, the news was received by most all with tears, shock, and awe. Before one situation could be laid to rest, the country was aflame with a new debate. Just as there was two sides to the previous discussion on the Confederate flag and racism, now, suddenly there was two sides—each eager to voice their take—on the topic of opening the right (rite) of marriage to those in same sex relationships. Before we could begin to wrap our minds around what all was happening in such a short time, every newscast was streaming with their blatant opinions, individuals posting on their blogs each minute what they consider to be right and wrong, and social media was colored with stars and bars or rainbows. As people competed to yell their beliefs over above their neighbor, it was nearly impossible to think, much less listen to one another. Two situations that many viewed as strengthening communities, many others saw as divisive. Far from being over, hoping that things have slowly began to calm down, I would like to shed some light on what you may have missed while you were sucked into all the heated debates and nasty polemics of the last few weeks.
1. While you were coloring your profile pictures and filling people’s newsfeeds with meme after meme to show support/disapproval one way or the other, keep in mind that for some who are still in deep pain there are no forms of earthly justice or human laws that can take away their hurt.
2. While you were making claims on what is legal and not, biblical and heresy, right and wrong, keep in mind that one day each of us will have to answer for his/her own actions before God.
3. While you were drawing a line between you and anyone who thinks or believes differently, keep in mind that that person on the other side is a work of God’s hands too—one for whom Christ died and was raised to new life.
4. While you were wondering if it is, indeed, the end of the world, keep in mind that the Spirit works in and through us—even when we cannot see or feel it—and until Christ returns, today is one more day to keep doing the best we can at sharing God’s love.
All of this is simply to say be mindful of others around you. The debate is not for my lowly blog, but for CNN, FOX NEWS, and MSNBC. Hold to your beliefs (whatever they may be), share your opinions (where asked); be kind to others—no matter where they stand—for Jesus’ sake. Don’t draw a line that can’t be erased. Don’t push someone away who may never come back. Don’t speak on others’ behalf—including God. While you were reading this, keep in mind that there is forgiveness, love, and grace. Let Christ, who died for all people and was raised so that we may each share together in his new life—living in love for our neighbor—be the bound that binds us in spite of our differences.