mjkimpan  —  March 26, 2013 — 3 Comments

this morning and afternoon my twitter feed is filled with comments and speculations on the SCOTUS hearing this morning in which the justices held a Q & A with the representatives of the prop 8 case.

of particular interest was justice kennedy’s comment that it may be too early to vote on same-sex marriage as the conversation is taking the court into ‘uncharted waters.’

there was a great deal of speculation on the supreme court’s pending decision in june, and the blogosphere is almost assuredly to be inundated tomorrow and in the days to come with even more speculation than today, from both conservatives and activists for equality in marriage.

yet, as a ny times op-ed piece recently pointed out,

But while they’re watching this moment raptly and hopefully, it’s not with a sense that the fate of the cause hangs in the balance. Quite the opposite. They’re watching it with an entirely warranted confidence, verging on certainty, that no matter what the justices say during this coming week’s hearings and no matter how they rule months from now, the final chapter of this story has in fact been written. The question isn’t whether there will be a happy ending. The question is when.

rather than engage in a discussion on a conversation i wasn’t privy to, i took it upon myself to listen to the entire audio of the hearing, and simultaneously read through the transcript of today’s arguments in the supreme court.

you can do the same by clicking here or the link below ::

tomorrow the court will hear arguments from both sides regarding DOMA (‘defense of marriage act’), with final rulings set for both cases in june.

until then, both sides are likely to speculate and gather their troops in an effort to bolster support and define cultural normalcy; regardless of the rulings, the church will be faced with some tough decisions in how best to proceed in the future.

what continues to both fascinate and puzzle me concerning these conversations is the inability of both sides of the argument to hear the other. what i suspect the continued conversations in SCOTUS will reveal is the increased cultural disconnect between these two sides – each repeating similar arguments to what has already been said, with seemingly neither side interested in engaging in conversation.

both sides desire conversion.

it seems to me that both arguments are based on a desire to convince and persuade the other that their view is culturally unacceptable (whether based on religious reasons or societal reasons, on an imposed definition of morality or justice) – and there doesn’t seem to be room for disagreement.

there’s no room for ambiguity.

our addiction to an answer culture has painted us into a corner where we are expected to choose one side or the other. we live in a culture where the imputed expectation to create sustainable, preaceful and productive dialogue dictates agreement in order for something significant to happen.

our insistence upon uniformity demands conformity of belief, not just adjustment of behavior.

even on my facebook feed, one friend responded with a false dichotomy in response to this tweet ::

one persons’ response was ::

‘I agree. Will the church bend to social pressures or let the biblical text define our beliefs.’

i’m not sure we do agree on that.

so long as the church demands to draw lines in the sand regarding the rights of people with whom they disagree – spending time, energy, money and other resources (including our cultural credibility and relevance) to fight the Other and showing an inability to welcome and love those same people, we will continue to find ourselves marginalized and deemed as intolerant.

because that false choice is intolerant.

jesus showed love to all people in the cultural context within which he lived – one specific example is his healing of the centurion’s ‘servant’ (the term is ironically slightly questionable in its context).

by offering miraculous assistance to the gentile, pagan roman officer who was in charge of oppressing the jewish people, was jesus condoning that behavior? was he betraying his jewish roots and religion? was jesus guilty of selling out?

the same could questions could be asked of his interactions with the tax collectors, his healing of the lepers, the blind and the lame; his compassion on a woman deemed ceremoniously ‘unclean’ in every way possible in mark 5; his friendship with prostitutes (or, on the other side, the pharisees whose home in which he also dined) or his intimate interactions with the samaritan woman.

even the first recorded miracle of the christ was engaging in the cultural norm of a wedding celebration where the guests had drank all the wine. so jesus made more for them to drink at the request of his mother, rather than launching into a diatribe about the dangers of alcohol or the improprieties of over-drinking.

• was it because jesus capitulated to culture?
• did jesus care too much about what others thought of him?
• was he ashamed of ‘Truth’?

no. jesus was the truth – the way, the truth and the life – and he wasn’t ashamed of it; in fact, he lived into it.

but jesus didn’t carry a picket sign. he didn’t sign petitions. he didn’t protest.

he who has ears, let him hear.

rather than digging in our heels, perhaps it would help if we would just listen.

  • Michael, your ability to think and live in the middle inspires me. Thank you for your words. An imitation of Christ, here.

    • your words are too kind. may we each learn to better imitate jesus as we stumble along the path towards him.

  • So I’m the poster being referenced. I agree that Jesus was inclusive of all people. However he didn’t condone everything that they did. He engaged the woman at the well, but told her to sin no more. According to the Epistles homosexuality is a sin. You can try to do some backwards exegesis and explain away Paul’s words, but it cannot be done with proper exegetical study. When I posted about same sex marriage I was referring to how the church should handle it not the government. I personally think the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all. I believe any two people whether they are in a sexual relationship should be able bond themselves financially, because that is all the government sees marriage as. I think it is up to churches to decide what they will teach. Will they give into social pressure like some churches and teach that homosexuality, promiscuity, and pre-marital sex are not sin(the latter two becoming very popular in inner city churches)? Or will we stand firm on the word of God? So where does that leave us. Love the sinner hate the sin? That approach has simply ended up in hate the sinner and their sin. The problem with many churches is they treat homosexuality as some great sin worse than all others. I don’t see it that way. Sin is a sin. The person that commits a homosexual act is no worse than the person who lies or has lustful thoughts. However we don’t condone the lies or the lustful thoughts. Our ministry is built on anyone can be welcome. A homosexual is welcome just like anyone else. I have had drug dealers, murders, and rapists come to our ministry. A homosexual isn’t going to get shunned if those others are not. However I will not pretend that bible condones anyone’s behavior, including my own. We all sin, but the problem is when we want to change what sin is to allow us to give into our own desires.