Confession of a Christian in the United States

Flickr photo: smokingloon

Originally posted on 01.24.13 on reyes-chow.com.

As I scanned my newsfeed this morning, I had another one of those, “No duh, Bruce.” moments.

Yes, I am a Christian.

Yes, I am a citizen of the United States of America.

As a Christian – I believe that we must love and serve one another: the stranger, the enemy, the prisoner, the poor, the outcast, the hungry and the oppressed. And while often falling short, I strive to live this daily – even to the detriment of my own wealth, comfort and station.

As a US Citizen – I believe that each of us has been “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” – even if this belief gives people the right to make choices that are not always in their best interest.

Add this one in the “easy to say, hard to do” file.

Reading story after opinion after post, each tackling important questions around mental health, war, immigration, gun control, abortion, marriage equality or healthcare, I was again reminded that I must hold in tension the commitment to live my Christian faith with the responsibility of being a citizen of the United States of America.

Like I said, “No duh, Bruce.”

This is not a comfortable or simple tension to hold and it would be much much much easier to compartmentalize my world pretending as if the two are always in state of blissful alignment and never in direct conflict. But with our country’s ideologically discourse seemingly at a constant boil, as we debate such complex and passionate issues, it is never a bad idea to remind myself – Bruce, you are first a citizen of the Body of Christ and then a citizen of the United States of America.

When such difficult questions before us as a country, I must constantly commit to being a Christian who happens to be an American and not the other way around. For if I confuse the two, my independent American sensibilities and the pursuit of my own individual rights will too often result in just the opposite being inflicted up those whom my Christian faith calls me to love and serve. If my citizenship trumps my faith, the pursuit of my own life, liberty and happiness will lead directly and indirectly to the death, oppression and despair for the stranger, the enemy, the prisoner, the poor, the outcast, the hungry and the oppressed.

Does this mean that I want the United States to become a theocracy governed by a less than unanimous understanding of the Christian faith, of course not. And are there times when my faith and citizenship align, sure.  The big takeaway for this Christian, who cherishes the opportunities to dialogue about the politics and policies of our country, is that I must be open to solutions to complex issues that might indeed infringe upon my own independence and personal gain so others may thrive. For in the end, our life does not belong to the United States of America, in life and in death, we belong to God.

Woe to me if I confuse the two.

“The State of Our Unions” Conference Call Invitation

As some of you know, for the past few years I have been on the Board of Directors of California Faith for Equality. While never as active as I would like to be, I am excited about our recent direction setting including the hiring of a new executive director, Eleanor Steinman. After just a few phone calls and in-person interactions, I firmly believe that our faith-based work to bring about marriage equality in CA is headed in a positive direction.

After the recent elections and as we await the Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8, there are undoubtedly many questions that folks have about the state of marriage equality today. Well wonder no more because California Faith for Equality invites clergy and faith leaders to join in on an informational call THIS Friday, November 16th.

“THE STATE OF OUR UNIONS” 

With Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Faith Work Director and Institute for Welcoming Resources of The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 

  • What worked in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington?
  • What is next on the horizon for the freedom to marry in other states?
  • What can we expect in California?
DETAILS
  • DATE:  Friday, November 16th
  • TIME:  10:00 am PST
  • CALL-IN NUMBER: (605) 475-4000
  • ACCESS CODE: 919428#

Send your questions in advance and during the call to Rabbi Eleanor Steinman via steinmanatcafaithforequalitydotorg OR tweet them to @faith4equalitywith the hashtags #cf4e and #marriageequality and feel free to RSVP or invite folks via the Facebook Event Page.

And if you want to keep up today join the CF4E Facebook Group and follow @faith4equality on Twitter or @cf4e on Instagram.

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