Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Blessed Assurance!

three events keep swirling through my mind--first, a county clerk's refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her belief that doing so would be a denial of her christian beliefs and her subsequent jailing for contempt of court; next, the dismissal of our church secretary because of her problems relating to other members of the church staff; and, finally, walking into our local movie theater and hearing an advertisement for how to have a "lasting relationship with jesus christ" by attending a local evangelical church.  how are these events related to one another?  what does their coming to mind together mean for me?

i am suspicious of those who are confident in their own rightness and righteousness.  i am troubled by those who seem to have no doubts about their own beliefs and who can dismiss the beliefs of others with self-assurance.

i ask myself how would issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple harm kim davis, or how would her faith be harmed if she permitted her deputies to issue licenses even if her own conscience would not allow her to do so.  how can she be so certain that her "deeply held" religious beliefs are right and should therefore be forced on others?

if an employee of a church harbors resentments against other staff members, i question whether the problem is best solved by firing that employee.  would it be better to bring the staff together to air grievances and to try and come to terms with the source of those resentments, resorting to dismissal only as a last resort when all else has failed?

i wonder why movie patrons should be subjected to advertisements recruiting members for a local church after they've paid for admission to a movie theater.  should the theater chain make a profit by selling ads for the purpose of religious proselytizing?

in all of these situations, there is an underlying assumption that, since i am right, you must be wrong if you fail to adopt my belief system.  the county clerk says that her belief that same-sex marriage is a grave sin makes it her duty to prevent others from committing this sin in so far as it is possible for her; there is no questioning of the reasons a same-sex couple would wish to commit to each other in marriage.  the church elders take the side of some staff members against another staff member and say that the staff member who is having difficulties relating to some other staff members must be in error without giving her  a chance to defend her position or providing a mechanism for all of the staff to work through their differences; there is no opportunity for all of the staff to find wholeness by honest communication with one another.  the church which seeks to "save" others by paid commercials at the movie theater forces ticket holders to listen to their message, quite a different thing from the recruiting ads for local colleges and blurbs to entice attendees to buy tickets for upcoming movies; their "saving" message is reduced to just another commercial as trivial as the other commercials that play in the lobby and restrooms.

may we allow room for doubt and questioning.  may we seek healing and wholeness rather than taking the easy road of getting rid of whatever offends us.  may we not reduce the most profound questions of life to glib answers that can be found in a thirty-second blurb over a public address system.  shalom.

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