Goodness, I have a lot of work to do. I haven't seen the top of my desk in days. But I'm really distracted by Facebook today. So many of my Facebook friends are expressing some mix of rage-sadness-support-disappointment-frustration about the passing of North Carolina's Amendment 1 . I have also noticed the absence of some voices that I miss.
It is no secret that, while I try to stay fairly apolitical when it comes to publicly supporting a particular party, there are issues about which I see no gray area. This is one of them. I see marriage equality as a simple matter of human rights. I was raised in a home and in a church community to respect the rights of all people. I don't always do it perfectly, but I do work at it. Hard. Every day. As a matter of personal, familial, religious and political belief, I work at it.
Recently, though, what has irked me so much about the "debates" (can we even call them that?) over marriage equality is that they seem to be divided along religious lines. The main reason that Amendment 1 has been so sad for me is that it is a step backward for people that I love who want/need/deserve equal rights under the law of the land. The secondary-- and perhaps more directly personal to me-- reason that this has been tough today is that it has stirred back up the hatred and vitriol that otherwise good people spew about "Christians".
I am 100%, through-and-through, without exception and proudly, Christian. I'm an Episcopal priest, after all. I have moments of doubt and faith crises from time to time. I get irritated at the Bible when I don't understand it. I get made at my fellow human beings and make bad choices in my interactions with them. Yes. But none of these things negate my status as beloved, believing child of God and follower of Jesus Christ.
I also believe strongly, as I mentioned, in human rights. I believe that all people should have the freedom to choose their spouses. I believe people should live free of fear, fear of their government, of their neighbors, of their family members. (I wish we could all live free of the judgement of others but as we're only human, I'll be happy if we could all judge a little less or maybe just keep judgements to ourselves.) We all deserve conditions that allow us to thrive. And it is my understanding that God believes all of these things, too. And, of course, believed them first.
But somewhere along the line, "Christian" got all wrapped up and synonymous with "hateful" "spiteful" "ignorant" "close-minded" and "self-righteous". How did this happen? Where can we place the blame for this hijacking of the Christian "brand"? Or perhaps more importantly, how can we reclaim it?
I've always been a big fan of the St. Francis method: "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words." That is: Live it, doofus. Walk the talk.
But I'm wondering if just walking the talk is enough anymore. "Mainline Protestants Love Radically" doesn't seem to be making headlines. "Christians Blow Up Abortion Clinic" does. I am not, of course, suggesting we blow anything up. But I'm genuinely concerned about how to make this happen.
I get tired, frustrated and sad when this thing, this Christian-Jesus-love your neighbor thing, that is so close to my heart and so self-defining for me gets lumped in with something so dramatically other, that Other Thing that stands for the opposite of what I do and believe in.
The Amendment 1 debacle is not about me and my own need to rescue Christianity from the clutches of those who want to destroy it with hate. I know that. It is about denying people what they need to thrive. It is anti-Gospel. But I'm having a hard time concentrating on what matters while dodging the flying excrement.