Tuesday, March 20, 2012

pondering hate

A sweet friend who I dearly love sent me a note yesterday morning, reminding me that not everyone who will vote for Amendment One will do so because of hate.  She mentioned this because in my previous post I shared words from Pastor Nancy, who used that word:  hate.

I thanked her, and promised to ponder this reminder; for the last 24 hours, I've done just that.

Some things have come to mind...

I don't like the word hate.  It's inflammatory.  It seems unnecessary.  It makes me think of the lyric from Mumford and Sons, "Darkness is a harsh word, don't you think?"

And yet... I'm not sure that's a good reason not to use it.  Maybe we need to be jarred?  Maybe the conversation should be awkward/uncomfortable?  I don't know.  Maybe.

I know many wonderful, generous, loving people who will likely vote in favor of Amendment One.  They would never bully anyone.  Yes, they believe homosexuality is a sin - but they love sinners, all sinners.  I mean this sincerely - they love.  They won't vote yes because they hate gay people.  They will vote yes because they believe it's the right thing to do. Because they believe their faith, and their convictions about the Bible, are being called to question - that they must take a stand for truth and morality, even if its unpopular.  They will vote yes, not out of hate for gay people, but out of love and allegiance for God.

However... I believe they are misled.

Because this amendment isn't about that.  The language doesn't read, "Do you believe homosexuality is a sin? Check yes or no".  If it did, that would be a very different question - a question for churches and congregations, not citizens.  To answer that question "yes" is not hateful - it's a personal conviction.  I know some of my friends "on the other side" may be the ones shuddering now, but it's not hateful to believe that.  If that were the question posed, and yes was their answer, I would disagree with anyone who attributed the word hate to that.

However ...

To take that belief, and wield it as a civil weapon against a group of people, in the form of a vague, over-reaching amendment such as this one, is - in my opinion - hateful (even if you don't intend for it to be).  And that is precisely what the NC Legislature is asking us, as citizens, to do.

A vote is a powerful thing - it is literally a tool or a weapon that each of us has at our disposal, in this society.  It can be used to serve and protect self, or to serve and protect the other.  I truly believe that the "Christian" leaders calling their followers to vote for Amendment One are challenging them to protect themselves - protect their families - protect their way of life - defend their turf.

And I ask myself - is that the Jesus way? When did He ever model that?

Which leads me to another question: where did we get the idea that the danger lies outside ourselves? As if marriages are ending at the same rate within the church as without, because of some external force of evil baring down upon us?  No. The threat doesn't lie with gay people or society or the world.  Where did Jesus teach us the danger lies?  Within us.  It is not what goes into the body that defiles it, but what comes out.  We are a threat to ourselves - principalities and powers war for our very hearts.  And to wield power over the other, sinner or not, does nothing to protect us.  Nothing.  In fact, it does the opposite - it tears us all down.

"Darkness is a harsh word, don't you think?"  Hatred, as well?  Yes, harsh indeed - but maybe with good reason...

Doesn't history tell us the story of a long line of people who wouldn't have said (at the time) that they hated anyone?  We only see the hate in hindsight.  If they were blinded by fear or a sense of protecting the status quo, who's to say we can't be, too?  We can demonize history's villains, place them in a separate category from us so that we don't have anything in common with them, but that is foolish.  We are the same:  just people, doing what seems right at the time.

I'm no psychologist or sociologist - I can't eloquently define hatred.  But, as I've pondered it the past 24 hours, I can only conclude that hatred is contrary to love.  "Love does no harm to its neighbor", scripture teaches us. Hatred does harm to its neighbor.

Hatred does harm.
Amendment One will do harm.

Because amending the constituion won't make the gay people go away.  They exist. They are here. Their families are here.  As are the thousands of heterosexual couples who currently receive benefits even though they are not married.  If this amendment passes, our state won't be rid of their "sin".  Their lives, and the lives of their children, will just be harder. 

I believe the world is ripe for kindness from Christians.  Jesus-y sacrificial kindness, mercy-rich love that is bold enough to stand before an angry crowd and dare one of them to throw a stone at the "sinner".  Go into all the world and teach them to do everything I commanded you ... that's our mission, right?  Obeying that shows allegiance to Christ.

Well, how do we do that?  What did He command?

He commanded Love.

Love does no harm to its neighbor.  
Amendment One will do harm.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.