Photo by European Parliament
My joy at hearing on Tuesday that same-sex marriage legislation had passed the Illinois house (61-54) was cut short by good-old balanced media reports.
To be clear, I am well aware that there are always vocal, extreme opponents to controversial measures like these. I’m also well aware that even my liberal public radio station has a responsibility to report those opposing views. So I’m not surprised when people disagree nor upset when the media reports opposing views.
What really gets to me, though, are statements that disregard logic.
The first time I heard this quote on the radio Tuesday afternoon, my brain hurt in a general, throbbing way, as if it was spinning its wheels in an effort to find some traction on solid ground.
The Illinois Family Institute’s David Smith said the vote by the Illinois House to legalize same-sex marriage in the state marks a “sad day for religious liberty.”
“Illinois just took a terrible step to remove religious liberties for people of faith, and to punish people for their religious convictions,” Smith said.
I tried—I really did—to understand how anyone’s religious liberties could possibly be at stake here. I could imagine many people feeling sad, scared, and angry by the legislation, but to interpret the legislation as a punishment for their beliefs? That I couldn’t get.
The second time I heard the quote, I keyed in on the irony of Smith’s use of the word “liberty.” I stomped around as I cooked dinner, muttering about how inconsistent it is to be a champion of liberty while picking and choosing who gets liberty, and in what areas of life. You’re not going to hear me reciting it regularly, but I do know my Pledge of Allegiance: “…with liberty and justice for ALL.” (Yes, emphasis mine.)
By the third and fourth times I heard Smith quoted (this was big news around here, so the story got a lot of play), my brain had completely closed itself off to Smith’s logic-void, inconsistent jumble of words, and I just felt like punching something. I felt an urge to find someone who saw things the way Smith sees things so I could take them to task—I was ready to have it out with every Christian who doesn’t see things the way I do. I felt the way I tend to feel when things happen that don’t make sense, and therefore fail to inspire responses that make sense: I felt desperate. Lost. Wild.
In other words, I had become illogical. And inconsistent. And not very Christian.
Which is why I’m back to this annoying and familiar place, where I wrestle with my extremely mixed feelings about other Christians and start questioning the”Christians Against Christians” blog series concept I developed a few years ago. Here’s how I described this inner struggle in this post (a reflection on the type of unity Paul writes about in Ephesians 4):
I want to believe that approach—my own humility about my stance, and being more patient with other Christians—can change things more than my outspoken frustration and anger. But sometimes it’s really hard to imagine.
And at the same time, I feel called to speak out—not to condemn Christians who anger me as much as to open the minds of those who don’t believe. But maybe my Christians Against Christians approach isn’t quite the right way. Maybe there’s an approach that blends the speaking out with the humility and patience. In fact, it seems to me that’s what Jesus modeled.
It appears the time has come, once again, for me—and any of you who would like to join me—to grapple with what speaking out with humility and patience looks like in our lives and world today. Who’s in? And who has an idea or a story—a place where we can meet and begin?