Thursday, October 23, 2008

How sure can you be?

Paragraph breaks added for ease of reading:

"All too often I have sat in a church and heard a pastor use gay bashing as a cheap parlor trick -- 'It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!' he will shout, usually when the sermon is not going so well.

I believe that American society can choose to carve out a special place for the union of a man and a woman as the unit of child rearing most common to every culture. I am not willing to have the state deny Americans a civil union that confers equivalent rights on such basic matters as hospital visitation or health insurance coverage simply because the people they love are of the same sex -- nor am I willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.

Perhaps I am sensitive on this issue because I have seen the pain my own carelessness has caused. Before my election, in the middle of debates with Mr. Keyes, I received a phone message from one of my strongest supporters. She was a small-business owner, a mother, and a thoughtful, generous person. She was also a lesbian who had lived in a monogamous relationship with her partner for the last decade. She knew when she decided to support me that I was opposed to same-sex marriage, and she had heard me argue that, in the absence of any meaningful consensus, the heightened focus on marriage was a distraction from other, attainable measures to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Her phone message in this instance had been prompted by a radio interview she had heard in which I had referenced my religious traditions in explaining my position on the issue. She told me that she had been hurt by my remarks; she felt that by bringing religion into the equation, I was suggesting that she, and others like her, were somehow bad people. I felt bad, and told her so in a return phone call. As I spoke to her I was reminded that no matter how much Christians who oppose homosexuality may claim that that they hate the sin but love the sinner, such a judgment inflicts pain on good people -- people who are made in the image of God, and who are often truer to Christ's message than those who condemn them. And I was reminded that it is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided, just as I cannot claim infallibility in my support of abortion rights.

I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God; that Jesus' call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history. I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian. I believe they make me human, limited in my understanding of God's purpose and therefore prone to sin. When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations -- whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion. That is not to say that I'm unanchored in my faith. There are some things that I'm absolutely sure about -- the Golden Rule, the need to battle cruelty in all its forms, the value of love and charity, humility and grace."

-Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope

You know, I seem to think I need to remain firm in my decisions once made. One of my major downfalls is that I often make decisions, proclaim them, and then later come across something that brings me to consider changing my mind. I hate it when I commit myself too early, because I make myself feel too much obligation to not change my mind. We should always be willing to change our minds.

The moment we proclaim our steadfastness is the moment we tempt ourselves to fail.

We need to take care to not dig our feet in too deep as, I'm finding, there is always something out there that may "prick" our hearts. Let's remain open to those things. Let's always allow for that.

We need first and foremost to understand that we're all people and we're all entitled, per the Declaration of Independence, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Per the Golden Rule, we are to treat others the way we would like to be treated, love our neighbor as ourselves.

Let's stop generalizing, pointing fingers, and get off our religious or non-religious soapboxes for a moment and start putting on some different shoes for a spell. Let's get back to the basics. We've complicated things entirely too much. Let's breathe a little slower and be less apt to fear and allow ourselves to consider the more encompassing things in life. I think sometimes we dig so deep to find reason and right that we find it difficult to get back out of the hole.

The world is not black and white, but many shades of absolutely amazing colors.


Lisa said...

Thanks to The Faithful Dissident for the Barack Obama quote


Noe said...

Reading that, and not knowing who was saying it, was something I found beneficial. I liked what I read, the logic behind it was astounding and the fact that someone so steadfast in their faith sees the Bible the way so many churches tell you to see it, but often don't see it themselves is a comfort.

Yeah, I was gonna vote for him anyway.

Changing your mind is a good thing. Saying, I thought that way but now that I have more facts my opinion is changing... this is normal, this is human, and anyone who chastises you for changing your mind once you've received more information on something is a fool, a hypocrite, and not worth the air they breath. BTW-those people are not allowed to change their minds-ever-because they won't allow it in other people. So there! I can be petty and childish too!!! lol