Crazy Talk

In every election we hear all sorts of rumors and smears spread around about candidates and issues. This election cycle though I have heard some of the craziest things yet.

A family member in NY, not an Evangelical Christian at all, asked me, “Do you think that Obama is the anti-Christ?” I didn’t even know she had heard of the anti-Christ before. Then she asked, “Do you think Michelle Obama is racist?” She says this is what she has been hearing–in New York.

Yesterday a Quaker friend, a straight married man with two sons, forwarded me an e-mail he sent in response to a message forwarded to him and many others by his aunt in Texas. The message is in support Proposition 8 in California,  which attempts to overturn marriage for gay and lesbians in that state.
Here is the original message the aunt forwarded:

Hi everyone,

Please join us in a nondenominational fast on Sunday, October 12th for California Proposition 8.

Whatever your professed faith may be, your faith and fasting can bring forth the powers of heaven. Please abstain from food and drink on Sunday, October 12th and please pray for a positive outcome for California’s Proposition 8. You might also pray that hearts may be softened and that understanding and wisdom will prevail.

Please FORWARD this to those in favor of protecting and restoring traditional marriage in California. We would LOVE to have residents of other states or nations join us in our fasting and prayer!

Isaiah 58:6,8-9
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.

If passed, Proposition 8 will eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. The Family Proclamation states that “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother…” The proclamation ends with “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

While many of you may not be from California, we can all help by participating in this worldwide fast. I hope you all consider taking part in this, and inviting your friends, family, classmates, everyone you know to help out as well. There is an event on Facebook if you want to join and invite people on there.

Thank you all for your support!

Here is my friend’s response:

Dear Family and friends of family,

I hesitate to respond to this message because I do not know all of you. However, after sitting with this over the last several days, I feel compelled to clarify that this issue is not one of Christian vs. non-Christian.

Here in New England, where I live, a significant proportion of those who have fought for the rights of same-gender couples are Christians. Gay Christians and straight Christians, clergy and lay leaders, and from different denominations; and many of them have been among the most visible, outspoken and courageous leaders of the movement. I am also confident that many of those who will vote against Proposition 8 in CA are Christians. They are Christians who have a different understanding of Jesus’ message and example of love, compassion and radical inclusivity that welcomed everyone to the table — including, and it could be argued, especially those whom the devoutly religious people of his day regarded as sinners.

In reading the message below, forwarded by my Aunt, I found it odd and troubling that the passage quoted from Isaiah speaks of God rewarding and answering those who undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke. I don’t understand how this passage could be construed to support Proposition 8, when the next sentence clarifies that it will eliminate the rights of a group of people that has suffered significant oppression.

I am also puzzled by earlier messages that described the situation as frightening. What’s frightening about it? My sons have grown up with gay and lesbian friends within our family’s close circle of friendships, and they have multiple good friends who have two moms. Those friendships neither threaten nor diminish my heterosexuality nor that of my sons. Just last Friday, the Supreme Court here in Connecticut ruled that it is a violation of the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution to deny marriage rights to same-gender couples. This is not an issue I have chosen to be actively engaged with, but I support the court’s decision. That decision doesn’t threaten or in any way diminish the value, stability or sanctity of my own marriage or the marriages of my friends and neighbors. The institution of marriage faces a much greater threat from the ever-increasing divorce rate, infidelity and promiscuity among heterosexual couples.

As for the concern that the court’s action will facilitate schools’ educating children about a diversity of family relationships, I am again puzzled as to why that seems so frightening. People from cultural and religious backgrounds other than the dominant Christian tradition have always faced the challenge of an education system that either ignored or discounted their beliefs and traditions. When I was a kid, there was essentially no acknowledgment of Jewish holidays or traditions, and Islam was never even mentioned. Today, I have a very deep spiritual and moral conviction that war is wrong, that it is counter to the teachings of Jesus. But that belief is certainly not supported by any public school education in America, so I have to strive harder to teach my children the foundations of my faith. And I certainly don’t want the school system to ban books that describe military families or to remove discussions of war from the history books. As people of faith, we should welcome education systems that celebrate diversity and foster understanding, teaching children not to despise or fear those who are different from them. Such an education will prepare them for the increasing complexities of the world we live in and help to prevent violence in our schools, on college campuses, in our communities, and in our world.

May God indeed bless you & your families and all families everywhere — including those with two moms or two dads, and those with only one parent.


This post has 4 Comments

  1. Yuki Choe on October 19, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Defining what family means according to what they want, then praying to deny the very essense of family itself. *Sick*

    I am really getting very annoyed with all this. Even Christ never asks us to pray for the good of ourselves but others. And he certainly did not ask people to look at other people’s sin but their own. I wonder just how people are going to define Christians next with this kind of behaviour.

  2. jadedsapphist on October 19, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I find it a little bizarre and quite arrogant that people assume that if they pray and/or fast then God will automatically answer them the way they think he should (and by converse if they don’t, or if they don’t do a good enough job then God will remain silent and far away). I think what is really alarming is that inherent in such requests is the presumption that they KNOW that God would condemn such a law. What would be so threatening about simply acknowledging to God how they feel about the situation, but then as Jesus did request that God’s will be done – whatever that may be – even if they don’t agree or like it very much. To me that would be indicative of a much more mature faith, and a heck of a lot less arrogance.

  3. Heather Cawte on October 19, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    What a thoughtful, well-balanced reply. I hope the recipients took note!

    I am so tired of people who hate other people describing themselves as Christian 🙁

  4. Valorie Zimmerman on October 20, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Ignorance is discouraging, but that wonderful, gentle response puts the courage back. I hope that the friend (and the others who received it) will read it in the spirit of love in which it was sent.

    Thanks for sharing it, Peterson! <3