We’ve been friends for quite a few years now, and I know you have heard me rant before. This probably won’t be the last time. This time is with a fair bit of trepidation as I’m still working things out inside me and nothing is clear. It may never be clear. Thing is, I want to say something about it anyway because we are friends, and friends talk about stuff that matters.
If I tell you I’m a Christian (it’s hard to use the big C), or I’m a christian (little c is closer to the truth), that says a lot to most. It says good and bad things without me saying much at all. If you asked me what I mean by christian, I’d have a hard time because there are many things I used to say right out, black and white, that I am not comfortable with anymore. And this is not the time for doctrine or belief statements, rather the time to try to show the kind of person I am without labels. Is that possible. I don’t know.
I remember when I was a little girl. I was really mad. I wanted something really really badly, and my parents said, “NO.” In my anger and disappointment I lashed out and they sent me to my room and I ran down the hallway crying and threw myself on my bed and yelled, “I hate you. I wish you were dead.” Sound familiar at all? And there are many times in my life that I still say this inside, use slightly different words like, “you suck,” or, “you idiot,” or, “and you call yourself a human,” or “you are such an ?*&^%$##!!!” I do. Often.
And I judge. The monologue that takes place inside my head is horrific. If you could hear the voices and what they say, you might not want to be my friend anymore. I try not to. I call myself to account. I try to be the one who judges not lest I be judged… but I will be, I know that to be true. I still judge. Maybe this sounds familiar to you as well?
So, now you know two truths about me, in my attempt to show you that I am human and not professing anything other than humanity like all those who are mentioned in this post. Just in case you hear judgement or righteousness, I want you to know that is not my intent.
I want to talk about what is bugging me about the day before yesterday and yesterday and maybe open up a dialogue about it. If not, I guess I’m just talking to myself and that’s OK. It’s a topic so confusing and hot and complex that I need to get some words outside my head to try and come to a place of being OK. I’m not there yet.
Day before yesterday World Vision announced they were adopting a new hiring policy allowing same-sex married individuals to work for their NGO. I read about it on Facebook and immediately Googled to see if it was true. It was. Everyone was talking about it, writing about it. And it was both exciting and appalling, depending upon one’s perspective. Some people rejoiced. In many uniquely creative ways some other people said, “I Hate You, and I Wish You Were Dead!!!” They did. Muck was slung, scriptures were launched, people on both sides of the line (mostly within the church) defended their positions and it was really really awful. There were some well crafted blogs suggesting immediate action, either to quit WV entirely or to support through further adoptions. Seems a lot of people’s response to WV’s change was to drop child sponsorship, just to point to how strong conviction/emotions are, and how easy to lose sight of the fall out (reports say over 2000 sponsorships were pulled overnight).
Then yesterday, World Vision changed their mind. In an announcement that included asking for forgiveness, WV turned everything around and suggested they were unintentionally misled, less than scriptural, acting outside of wise counsel. And again, all hell broke loose. Again, both sides launched shit on each other. While the world watched and wondered, and all of heaven held its breath. What was gained and what was lost? We could talk a long time on such things.
I don’t know the answer, I don’t profess to be a theological scholar or a history major or an activist for any special interest group. I know it’s complicated. I know. I was born in Northern Ireland, I’m protestant, and I married a Catholic. I know a bit about church troubles. But I’m a white, heterosexual poet who is married with 3 young adult kids and a dog. I live in Canada. I am not oppressed. Still, I’m deeply concerned and disturbed by this turn of events.
Yes, I believe in standing for who you are and what you believe. There are folk all around the world who are suffering for who they are and what they believe. People are martyrs for the faith right now. People are taking their lives after being bullied for years about their sexual orientation. You tell me about suffering and I will tell you what I know. I will tell you what it was like to be excommunicated from my family church for marrying outside it. I’ve seen what happens when good intentioned animal rights folk post pictures of abused animals on Facebook. I’ve read comments that would make your blood run cold. Passion can get out of hand. Convictions can result in as much retaliatory evil as the original act. Life is full of suffering. Christian, christian, agnostic or atheist, life is hard and difficult enough to bear without all this hate. God isn’t about hate, he is about love.
So, when I see the sides drawn, and I see the shit being launched, I can’t help wonder where it’s all going to lead? We can see where it led in history, and where it leads in countries around our world. Religious persecution is no different than any prejudice based upon colour, creed, sexual orientation or gender. There are good and beautiful people inside and outside of every faith community, every church, inside and outside of every political group or NGO. Who am I to judge. WHO AM I? The world has for so long been about winning… about the right answer… about treating the one with the wrong answer as less than. About hate. Not about love.
I don’t even know what this means yet, but I do know I will not take sides and fling muck at the church or any other group of people on this issue. It’s not right. It’s not loving. When I feel that deep seated desire to judge flood me, I don’t want to go there anymore. I want to love rather than divide or conquer. And if loving means not having the right words to say, that will be me. If loving means having a hug rather than having a platform or position, I’m OK with that too.
I choose love. As ridiculously improbable as that sounds because I am fallibly human, I still choose love. And I trust I will learn how to love better as I limp along with God in the lead and eyes on Jesus. And I don’t know what it looks like. I wish I did.
What others are writing on the topic and related thoughts: