It’s been an interesting week news-wise in regards to torture. Earlier in the week President Obama stated in a press conference that “waterboarding” is indeed torture, and that some of the Bush-era practices do not fit in with the ideals and values we have as a nation. Therefore, he put an end to the practice a short while ago. He still has work to do on this issue, but he has made the strongest stand ever on torture.
This week CNN reports that, “The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists…” In an piece entitled, Survey: Support for terror suspect torture differs among the faithful, CNN reports on a Pew Study survey among US church-goers,
More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.
I attend Quakers Meetings where there has been a strong movement against torture for some time, long before I heard a lot about it in the press. (And at the same time I have heard some pretty violent talk from peace-loving Quakers against Conservatives, talk that goes beyond critique of ideas to personal attacks and slander.)
Last night at the Courage meeting one of the women present mentioned how she attends a church cell-group (and here I was told that Al Qaeda were the only ones that had cell groups) and that a discussion of gay marriage came up. As part of an argument to oppose gay marriage one of the members of the group referred to the Sodom story in Genesis as evidence that God opposes gay unions.
If you have not done so yet, I suggest you read the Genesis 19 account to see what it does not say about two women or two men in a loving committed relationship that includes romance, intimacy, companionship and yes sex too. I do not believe anyone should get their ideas about family values and sex education from this story. This story has NOTHING to do with what happens in the happy homes of lesbian and gay couples and far more to do with what happened in the US-run Abu Ghraib prison with all the humiliating torture and prisoner abuse that American forces inflicted there.
Christianity can be a faith about love, forgiveness, understanding, charity, mercy and grace, and it can be taught in violent warlike manner that justifies all manner of violence in Jesus’ name.
Last night I led a Bibliodrama on Luke 7:36-50 in which Jesus gets invited to the home of the big-wig Simon, a rich religious man. At one point a prostitute comes in and weeps and weeps as she washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and then massages his feet with expensive perfume. Very intimate and highly inappropriate for the setting and the circumstance. Yet Jesus doesn’t flinch.
Acting out the scene with the stuffy and judgmental teachers of the Law on one side and Jesus’ loving and graceful acknowledgment of the person at his feet (while his befuddled disciples watched on) brought us to a place of humility.
I think of the rude and judgmental ways that I see some non-trans gays and lesbians react towards transgender people in our own communities, ways that I had felt and acted towards trans people before I actually knew any. We have acted terribly towards transgender people even after years of suffering the same sort of treatment by straight people towards us for being gay and lesbian.
I have witnessed a reaction, a revulsion, by some religious straight folks who think they are loving the homosexual sinner and hating the “sin of Sodom” when in reality they are pushing a non-Biblical aversion and condemnation of their gay and lesbian and bisexual neighbors–going so far as to fight to remove rights and privileges given to same-gender couples.
I understand why some people I meet in the LGBT community wonder how on earth I can still call myself a Christian. After all of the violent, godless and outright ugly things that Christians have done, and still do, why would I be a follower of Jesus?
It is a good question. The reality is there are different types of Christians. We each think we have the right way, but even back as early as the First Century there were varying views of Jesus, his life, his teaching and what it all means.
In Luke 7 it states that the one who has been forgiven much loves much. What a challenge to live out of a heart of the forgiven–not an easy task. To treat others as I would have them treat me, like Jesus taught. To love my neighbor as I would love myself. To actually get to know my neighbor, get beyond my assumptions, my discomfort, to the actual person. To hear Jesus speaking to me–Do you see this woman? Do you see this man? Do you see this fellow human? Not an issue, but do you see this person? This takes hard work on all sides–essential work.