Monday, 2 October 2017

feeling sad, sick, and unable to keep silent

I'm quite sad this morning.

The call for a change to the marriage laws in Australia is stirring up some fear in many, and I struggle to understand what it is people are afraid of.

This fear is evoking harmful behaviour, vitriolic language, and blatant lies.

As it stands, the dominant view of marriage excludes many from the choice to have their life-long partnerships recognised by the laws of our land. That directly and negatively affects those people and their families.

A change to the law will open the definition, and directly and positively affect some of our fellow Australians.

It will not change the understanding of marriage for those who want to view it differently: your views are yours and can be what they are.

It will not stop men and women from marrying each other.

It will not change the way religious communities conduct their business – religious celebrants are and will still be free to determine at whose unions they preside. Some religious communities may change their definitions of marriage to broaden the choice of unions at which ministers and priests may preside. Take it up with your own tradition. Not the law. The law applies to more than just the Christians.

Fear is clouding perspective.

To affirm the dignity and worth of others does not limit the dignity and worth of yourself.

Denying the dignity and worth of others DOES diminish your own dignity and humanity.

Unacknowledged emotion is clouding logic.

God doesn't ordain marriage anywhere in the Bible. The Bible reflects the customs and understanding of the humans who wrote the stories of their encounters with God and the world. The customs and understanding of marriage change throughout the biblical narrative. Jesus may indeed have ascribed to the Jewish norms of heterosexual marriage. Paul saw no problem with slavery. Humanity continues to grow and change since those men walked the earth two thousand years ago.

Cementing the Bible in printed books has limited our ability to engage with its content as living, vital, stories to guide our dynamic living in each new time and place. It's made us fearful of changing interpretations and applications, so that we think these new interpretations are 'wrong'. What would be wrong would be to apply the understanding of a previous age to a new age: it's inappropriate, out of time, and causes harm.

What remains true is the spirit of the law: love and honour for all that lives.

Insisting our version of 'right' is the only version does not honour anyone, least of all a God who is bigger than our human understandings of what is 'right'.

Insisting our version of 'right' is the only version is leading people to contradict other teachings they say they hold to. Lying is not encouraged in the Bible. Speaking harshly with condemnation for another is not encouraged in the Bible. Arrogance, a lack of mercy, kindness, generosity: all not encouraged in the Bible.

By all means, differ in your opinions. Please, let us take care how we are doing that.

I don't feel sad, actually. I feel ill at the foul language used by a stranger in response to my expression of my opinion, my interpretation of the Bible.

There is room for difference: THAT is celebrated and affirmed throughout the Bible, not least, for Christians, in the broadening of the invitation into God's realm (aka kingdom) of ALL.



2 comments:

Heather said...

Thank you for your thoughts, Sarah. Thanks for reminding us of the dominant narrative of loving kindness in the Christian tradition, through all the changes in our understanding of what is "right", and through all our wresting with interpretation.
Your words help others. Even those who would hurl insults cannot escape the reminder that we seek to build on a foundation of love.

Glenys said...

YES, YES and indeed YES.