What a week! Such a mixture of joy and sorrow.
On a national level, that is. Here we just finished harvest. The predominate emotion in my home life is relief. Everyday life goes on even in the midst of the big events on a national scale.
On a national level there are big events indeed. There is celebration and joy at the Supreme Court ruling which supports the right of same-gender couples to marry. There is sorrow as we lay to rest the victims of the shooting in Charleston and continue to wrestle with the causes and consequences of racial injustice.
I also recognize the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling brought dismay to some of my neighbors. Those for whom such a ruling seems a violation of God’s law are expressing distress. I am sorry for your hurt though not for the ruling. This is not the time to argue with those feelings. Nor will I minimize your hurts and fears.
However, I do have a request as a fellow child of God: please avoid expressing your dismay in ways which spread further hate and claim it as love. Imagine your beloved, perhaps a spouse, came to you and said, “I love you…just like I love murderers, adulterers, and thieves.” Would you feel loved? Would this not be an expression of anger and perhaps even hatred merely masquerading as love?
If you would not speak so to your beloved then do not speak so to any of our brothers and sisters. We are called to love all people. And we are in this together. When any of us is poor, or a victim of violence, or treated unjustly, we are all in danger of poverty, violence, and injustice. Words of hatred have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are lethal, as they were in Charleston most recently.
I would also ask we all refrain from expressing our discomfort at the racist reality played out in Charleston by discounting the experiences of our African American brothers and sisters. The bedrock of building a just world is listening to one another. Listening does not happen by defining other people’s experiences for them. Listening does not happen by avoiding truth.
As brothers and sisters, we rejoice together and we grieve together and so often the two are intertwined. So, let us rejoice together with those rejoicing over the affirmation of their committed loving relationships while not forgetting those for whom this transition is difficult. Let us grieve with those laying to rest loved ones in Charleston while rejoicing in the call to reformation ringing across our country calling for an end to the injustice of racism. Let us rejoice, let us grieve, let us love one another with hearts open to the experiences of others and to acknowledging our own wrongdoing. Let us move toward justice for all people.