Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Grip of Fear

I’m disappointed - forlorn is a better description - that the Marriage Amendment was added to the North Carolina constitution by a majority of voters on Tuesday. It was an unfortunate collision of religion, politics and mores - fueled by fear - fear of God, fear of gays and fear of change.

Proponents claimed they were protecting marriage, but no one offered an amendment making divorce more difficult. No one suggested criminalizing infidelity. No, the preferred solution for protecting marriage seems to be aimed at denying committed gay couples a marriage license. Obviously, this controversy is about uneasiness with or fear of homosexuality.

I know what the Bible says about the subject, but I would challenge you to read Romans 1:29-31 (where St. Paul condemns homosexuality among promiscuous Gentiles.) Insert the name of a gay person you know. Is the Apostle writing about your gay coworker, friend or family member? I don’t know any gay people that fit his description. 

And consider the meaning of Acts 10 where the Spirit of God intervenes to upend Old Testament teaching.

This is one of those hard places in the Bible where - per John Wesley - we might apply the whole of Scripture, reason, tradition and our experience of life and faith.

Admittedly, I am perplexed by this issue, but I refuse to come down on the side of fear!

Great & Merciful God,

We are forever in the grip of fear - fear over money, health, relationships.

Politicians and marketers are especially good at pushing our fear buttons. Preachers will do it, too. Fear can motivate, but it’s equally crippling.

We read this passage from 1st John last Sunday in church:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

Lord Christ, that degree of perfection seems out of reach - very much so with people of different cultures, countries, lifestyles, views and faiths.

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:20-21)

The words of St. John convict. God of love, cast out my fear(s). Amen.

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