Friday, June 26, 2015

Love, don't hate

"With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng."
(Psalm 109:30)

Everyone is talking about it today.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that all people are free to marry whomever they love, regardless of the gender.  The debate about same sex marriage has been raging for a long, long time.  But now, at least in the eyes of the US courts system, the issue is settled.  Of course, people are still free to believe whatever they want about same sex marriage & homosexuality.  That's part of what makes our country great (free speech & freedom of religion).  No one is being forced to believe or adopt anything that goes contrary to their own beliefs.  But the ruling today is a legal mandate.

In my devotions this morning, I read Psalm 109.  The subtitle is "A Psalm for Vindication & Vengeance" (terrible title, if you ask me).  I have to admit it, I read it in a whole new light today.  Not just in response to the Supreme Court's ruling, but also in response to the tragic shooting last week in South Carolina at an AME church bible study, by an angry young white man.  Psalm 109 is full of hate language.  At first glance, it looks like the author is voicing his contempt.  But when I reread it, I got a different impression...

The psalmist speaks about those who have attacked him & been his enemies: "They beset me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.  In return for my love they accuse me even while I make prayer for them" (v.3-4).  Then verses 6-19 recount all of the hate speech & oppression the psalmist has had to face.  Wow.  I almost couldn't read it.  Terrible things.

It seems that the Christian Church has become quite splintered.  Maybe we always have been and I'm just seeing it more prominently now because of the LBGT debates in our society.  But when we, as followers of Jesus, stoop to spewing hate, condemnation, and graceless judgment in our speech, we dishonor God.  We don't all have to agree on every issue theologically or politically, of course.  But please people, let's be civil and loving in our words & deeds (and relationships)!

I think it's telling that years before Jesus walked this earth, the pslamist was doing what Jesus would call people to do - love their enemies & pray for those who persecute them.  At the end of Psalm 109, the author looks to God alone for strength & support.  God has a history of siding with the downtrodden, the abused, and the oppressed.  Our response throughout all that befalls us in life should be praise & thanksgiving to God (no matter what's happening), not ugliness, hatred & words of vengeance. 

And on a historic day like today, that call rings loud & clear.  At least to me.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I agree with you Pastor Jim on our need to be like Christ and love all our fellow man--including loving gay people. I also agree that our country needed to legalize gay marriage because this makes people happy and I love gay people. I'm just not sure if the SCOUTS was the right venue. The SCOUTS should be interpreting law according to the Constitution, not creating law on its own.

The part I disagree with your blog is how it will affect my freedom of religion. As you say "That's part of what makes our country great (free speech & freedom of religion). No one is being forced to believe or adopt anything that goes contrary to their own beliefs."

According to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." but I believe marriage was ordained by God to be between one man and one woman. Therefore, it is my religious belief and should be my right to refuse to participate in gay marriage ceremonies.

However, as a Christian (or even a Muslim) photographer, I am now forced by the government to participate in gay weddings under fear of being sued and put out of business for my religious beliefs. Nevermind that I am a supporter of gay couples and would gladly offer my photographic services to gay couples on any other occasion, I just don't think I should participate in their wedding ceremony which I believe is fine under America's secular laws, but against God's Law.

I supported gay marriage for everyone to be happy, but now I am being forced to believe and adopt secular laws that go against my own beliefs which makes me unable to pursue happiness through my expression of my religious beliefs. I should not have to choose to follow
God's Law over American law--God ordained marriage many millennia before America was even a country. I will continue to follow God's Law over man's law and no SCOUTS ruling will ever have power over God's Law.

Bottom line: Your pursuit of happiness should not prevent my pursuit of happiness when all people are created equal in the eyes of God.