Some Late Thoughts on Amendment One
WWJD? I never thought I'd find myself asking that bumper-sticker question - you know, "What would Jesus do?" - in a newspaper column.
But it's a question that religious proponents of the anti-gay-marriage Amendment One should perhaps have asked themselves more often during the ugly North Carolina primary election campaign that just ended.
Instead, they often tended to fall back on the usually less forgiving Old Testament. That's what the local mother accused of stealing campaign signs did in her recently published letter when she compared herself to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego or Daniel in the lion's den.
Now, I'm no Bible scholar - though I did love the three elective biblical courses I took back in college, which turned me on to the subject for life. Can't believe I once read the whole thing in a year. And I am possibly the only guy in Moore County who keeps a bilingual Russian-English Bible beside his bed for occasional reference.
I acquired that volume back in the early 1990s, by the way, from an overly enthusiastic young American evangelist whom I encountered as he was cornering annoyed passers-by and attempting to preach the Gospel to them - in very bad Russian - in the Novy Arbat area of Moscow.
But I digress. The topic is supposed to be what Jesus would have done or thought about Amendment One. And that's not necessarily the same thing as what he might have thought in his heart of hearts about gay marriage, assuming there were any such things to think about in his day.
To be honest, I'm still not sure exactly what I think in my own heart of hearts about gay marriage. Perhaps I, like President Obama, am "still evolving." A same-sex wedding recently took place in another state among our circle of acquaintances, and some of us are still trying to come to terms with that.
But the discussion should not be about anyone's private thoughts on this subject. It should be whether we should assert the right to impose our religious attitudes publicly on everyone else through the force of civil law. And call me presumptuous, but I can't help thinking I have a pretty good idea how Jesus would have come down on that.
It's a stretch, I know. But suppose the marriage feast at Cana, as described in the Second Chapter of John, had been between two friends of Christ's who happened to be of the same gender. Would he have turned his back on their invitation, ordering his disciples to do the same? Would he have walked away in disgust and refused to turn the water into wine, thus postponing his first miracle until another day?
I have trouble picturing that. After all, wasn't his message always one of love and acceptance? Doesn't he say in Matthew that the first and greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself - even if the message is often to love the sinner but not the sin?
In the Beatitudes found in Luke (somewhat different from the ones in Matthew), does he glorify judgmentalism and rejection? Or does he say to his disciples, "Blessed are you when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil"?
Last, I also can't help thinking of Paul, who spend the first part of his life mercilessly persecuting those who thought and acted differently (Christians), but ended up writing possibly the most moving verse in the Bible, which ends: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (Or "charity," depending on the translation.)
Maybe I myself, ironically, am being too judgmental here. We all have our own truths to seek, our own demons to battle. Some people can accept change more readily than others. I have some issues of my own in that regard. I'm also aware that people can find (and have found) justification for just about any view somewhere in the Scriptures.
Here's all I ask: Look at all the countless messages for and against Amendment One that have appeared in The Pilot or elsewhere over the past few months. Which ones seemed to flow from an attitude of love, charity and acceptance? And which more often bespoke hatred, narrowness and intolerance?
In short, which ones sound more in keeping with the spirit found in the New Testament?
I'm just sayin'.
Steve Bouser is opinion editor of The Pilot. Contact him at (910) 693-2470 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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