We Hold Some Truths to be Self-Evident…

I went to bed angry, and woke up with a deep and painful sigh of the soul. Every other blogger in the progressive and free-thinking world is writing and ranting about North Carolina today. But really, what can you say?

What can you say when a country that is based on freedom, passes a law that suppresses the very right to be one’s self?

What can you say when people who claim faith in a loving, merciful God, pass a law out of hate and spite, that serves no purpose but to label, ostracize and degrade the ‘other’?

What can you say, when free people can pass a law based on imaginary, moral high ground; even if, ultimately, the law comes at the expense of families, the economy, religious freedom, free speech, and basically the country’s street cred with the rest of the free world?

What can you say when children in our country have to go to school today and hear that their family isn’t really a family; that they no longer have health insurance; and that, if something happens to one of their parents, the state will probably get custody of them instead of their other parent. (OK, probably nobody is telling the kids about that last part. Because nobody thought that far ahead when they passed this heinous law).

What can you say when privilege of normalcy can wreak such havoc on the lives of innocent people?

I am a Christian minister, and i am pretty intentional about not saying things that polarize across party lines. But this is not a party issue. I know plenty of Republicans who think this whole conversation is bananas, and are pretty angry that their party is wasting precious time and resources on passing–let’s call it what it is–a hate law. I also know some (but not many) gay republicans. So, this is not a party thing. This is a human thing, a faith thing, a justice thing. And for those of us who spend our lives trying to save the church from itself, it is also a pretty significant PR problem.

What can i say? Only that, if we are handing out amendments all over today, I would like to say that:

1: Crazy people don’t get guns or access to social media. Say what you will about the right to free speech and arms, but I think we are learning quickly around here that freedom has its limits.

2: You can no longer do something spiteful in the name of Jesus and call it Church, and hide behind freedom of religion. If I am amending things, I say that you don’t get to claim my Jesus in your hate speech.

3: You are not allowed to vote with hate in your heart; you are not allowed to vote if you have never read a newspaper, met a gay person (or a person of color, or a poor person, or a non-Christian) in real life.

What else can you say, when the foundations of liberty can shift with a nation’s bad mood? What else can you say, but:

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed– That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter and abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

“Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes” Really, some truths are self-evident. What more can we say? Except, Thomas Jefferson forgive us; Tim Gunn, Elton John and Ellen Degeneres, please forgive us; and may God have mercy on our free, empowered, privileged souls when want to keep freedom for the select and privileged majority. A threat to liberty anywhere is a threat…well, you know. I can’t add much to that.

 

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://ytechguy.wordpress.com jgawne55

    What else can you say? Nothing. A majority of the people of North Carolina that voted approved this measure. Early indicators yesterday predicted that only 1/3 of the voters would turnout for this issue. Reports say that 61.2% of those that voted — not quite 2/3 — voted in favor of this amendment. So, what does this say? 1/6 (about 17%) of the voters in North Carolina approved an amendment to their State Constitution. 1/12 (about 8%) voted against the amendment. 2/3, or 67%, didn’t care about the issue enough to vote.

    What needs to change here is that people across this country need to stop letting small percentages of the population speak for all of the population. If this amendment is so hateful and heinous, where were the rest of the people????

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      agreed, jim. ‘where were you’ is going to be the question our kids and grandkids ask us in a few years. i think many people didn’t realize what the fall-out of this would be, and just stayed home. that’s a big part of what needs to change, and why churches need to start speaking out for inclusion.

  • Lounell Chenevert

    Erin – You make me proud and very happy to be able to say you are “my” pastor. Being brave enough to speak (or in this case, write, the truth is a trait all pastors should have. Lounell

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      thanks, lounell. proud to be your pastor, too…

  • Stanley

    Yes, the majority is always the best way to make decisions. It certainly worked out well for the institution of slavery for, say, 400 years or so. And it was splendid in keeping women out of the voting booth until 1920. People of color may be too established in society for any significant reversals purveyed by the majority, but women are still a good target. If, through a simple majority, we can overturn or at least reduce the Violence Against Women Act, we have a great chance of sending women back into the kitchen. Shoot, we shouldn’t have much trouble at all keeping gay persons in “the closet” for a long time to come.

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      thanks for the insight, stanley. i don’t really know you, but i assume you’re being ironic ;)

  • Judy MacKeigan

    Good points, Stanley. A majority of people do not justice make. Thanks for speaking out Erin. I wish more ministers would do the same and help show the world not all Christians are self-righteous, hate filled bigots.

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      keep up the pr work in ohio, judy!

  • http://alientochamber.org Dorothy

    All who agree, we need to make sure we get out there and make a difference not only for ourselves, and our children, but the children to come. It’s gotten so strange that you just want to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t living in a nightmare.

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      dorothy, you are right. the people who show up, make the decisions.

  • sara

    Beautiful. I could not have said it better myself. Brava.

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      thanks for joining the discussion, sara.

  • Paul

    Why is it that you, a “Christian Minister” label those who disagree with you, “Hateful”?

    Wow. While condemning those who “Judge” by expressing their beliefs in the voting booth, you Judge me as “Hateful” because I disagree with you.

    I don’t see the Conservative Christian Community labeling the GLBT community as “Hateful” because they disagree.

    Hate is a POWERFUL word, I would expect a minister to use it a little more judiciously.

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      Paul, I don’t think all who disagree with me are hateful. You are within your rights to think homosexuality is a sin, or to be uncomfortable with it. But it IS hateful to need a law that makes those relationships illegal. It just really is. There are things that we just should not be able to vote on.

    • Kelly

      Paul, Thank you for a reply that called out the Straw Man set up by this rant that paints anyone who disagrees as hateful, illiterate, sheltered and bigoted! I AM a Christian Pastor and totally disagree with labeling marriage as anything but being between 1 man and 1 woman! I read many things in addition to newspapers and have many gay friends. Including a gay friend who I roomed with for a year.

      It is not because I am homophobic, hate-fulled or narrow-minded that I disagree. It is simply because I accept the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, Word of God and don’t believe we should call “normal” what God calls a “sin.” I have a much more difficult time trying to “tell the children” that God’s Word is to be socially-normed rather than norming the world. This means that we warn those who are erring, for fear for their eternal salvation! If that makes me a hater, then I guess I have the wrong understanding of the word. Because my heart aches for all those who live in opposition to God’s Word and for those who fail to properly instruct them in what it does say (meaning Pastors).

      • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

        again, let me say…i am not calling hateful all who ‘disagree.’ it is needing one’s opinion written into law that starts to smack of hatred. same-sex marriage is already illegal in most places. going so far as to amend the constitution in the interest of a religious/moral belief is extreme and dangerous. i think if we all focus on jesus’ command to love our neighbors, and quit being so hung up on what people do in their bedrooms, we’d be healthier, happier bunch of people.

      • http://jdajr.wordpress.com jdajr

        Kelly, thank you for your clear, honest, statement that supports those of us who believe in the authority of Scripture. It has nothing to do with hate.

        • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

          folks, again…there are differing views of scripture–where it came from, how to read it, etc–at play here. and let’s acknowledge that NObody takes all of scripture literally. i can get into that in another post. but just because you believe something, based upon your faith, to be wrong or sinful, doesn’t mean you have to have a law supporting it, and controlling/repressing other people’s lives. that is the hateful part. no matter your feelings on homosexuality, you (collective ‘you,’ not you specifically) should not get that much say in other people’s relationships, healthcare, custody, and lives.

          • http://jdajr.wordpress.com jdajr

            Erin, please note that in my reply to Kelly I said “for those of us who believe in the authority of Scripture” I am well aware that there are many that seem to use some of scripture but not all. There are also those who believe that there is nothing that we can learn from the OT, and there are those who believe that we should not preach from the gospels…there are even those who believe that only what Paul wrote should be believed. It is true that most of us do not take all of scripture literally, however, some of us take the lessons that scripture teaches us literally. Yes we are aware that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly truth…but not all of us throw out other parts of scripture because they do not support our lifestyle or hopes and dreams. There are some who want to denigrate those passages that aren’t repeated over and over again since they are not mentioned often…I remember my father used to say to me…”Don’t make me have to tell you that again.” I think God can be like that at times.

          • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

            thanks for the clarity. in fact, i think there is a great deal of meaning still held in the first testament. interpretating is not about finding that which we ‘like’ or agree with; but that which is timeless and relevant, regardless of the time and place for which it was written. there is a great deal of ot law–and even nt stuff–that not even so-called literalists take literally. like laws about pork and shellfish, what we wear, how we wear our hair, how we treat our slaves… these things just don’t apply to the world as we know it. for many of us, laws against homosexuality fall into that same category.

  • Gary

    Marriage is an institution that is historically filled with restrictions. From age, to gender, to consanguinity, and polygamy; restrictions are placed on marriage by society. So if you turn over one, that would open a door for another, right? If you vote because of your beliefs, how is that wrong? Your personal beliefs shape the culture you live in and your society. So if same genders want to marry, then it’s only fair to allow polygamy, consanguinity, and minors to marry. Freedom of choice, right? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, right? Let’s take God out of the equation since he had nothing to do with the founding of this great nation. Or are we ONE nation under God? Rational ignorance perhaps? 

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      we are talking about a constitutional amendment to ban a certain type of relationship; to refuse to recognize the rights and privileges of a whole demographic of people. in other words, same sex marriages are already illegal in most states. nc went above and beyond that to articulate judgment on a whole bunch of people. and i don’t get how folks continue to draw these parallels to marrying minors–that is a far leap from any consenting adult relationship. as for polygymy…perhaps a post for another day.

  • Rose

    I’m wonder how as a Christian minister you can disregard part of the Bible? Because you disagree with it? Well, we are all sinners yes but we are supposed to love the sinner but abhor the sin. To God all sin is the same. So now do we pass a law to make it ok to kill, rob, or have sex with children? When we say that something that God speaks against is ok, then where do we stop? Marriage was ordained by God for procreation and between man and woman. Period. This law would not take away their right to ‘be themselves’ but just not make it their right for their lifestyle to be called marriage.

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      oh my. first of all, i don’t reckon God ever told us to hate anybody. and you can’t place this in the same catgory as murder or pedophilia. that just doesn’t translate. as far as translation, i don’t ignore parts of the Bible, but i certainly think we are called to responsible interpretation that accounts for context, language, history, etc. I could get into all that, but i don’t suppose you’d like to hear it.

      • Kelly

        WOW! You REALLY want to paint everyone who disagrees with you as a hate! Rose posts a wonderful Scriptural reference reminding us to LOVE the sinner and you respond like she says “hate the sinner.”

        I recall one of my seminary prof’s telling me “Before you say, Thus says the Lord, you better check with Him first.” Your bias is showing here.

        • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

          my bad, and fair enough. i do have a bias when it comes to ‘hate the sin,’ especially in this context.

    • L. B.

      Excellent point!

  • http://ytechguy.wordpress.com jgawne55

    In reply to Rose and Gary, it is not that anything in the Bible is being ignored or overlooked or discounted. When you look at all of scripture, there is no definitive instruction to Christians today on this subject. Peter and Paul both refer to Mosaic law in their pastoral letters when speaking about sexual immorality. The Mosaic code was given by God to Moses for the people of Israel, in order that they might try to be righteous and holy until the coming of the Christ, who would be the pure and unblemished sacrifice that would provide substitionary atonement for all of our sins. When Jesus was asked “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40, NIV). Then when asked “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied with a story about a Samaritan, the most vile, loathed and hated people that a Jew could possibly have, that provided relief and succor to a hated enemy, a Jew. A Jew who had been ignored twice by his own people.

    Jesus placed these two commandments in such a context that these two commandments, while not superseding the Law and the Prophets in any way, places these as the greater consideration in any situation where there is conflict or disagreement in various points of the law, by saying that “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two.”

    I understand your point. It is very valid to anyone who is still living under the law. But for me, Jesus was the completion of the first covenant, and in His own words, He is “The New Covenant” foretold in Jeremiah.

    Each of us must come to our own understanding of these scriptures. I can no more convince you that my point of view is “right” and yours is “wrong” than I can make a leopard change its spots. What I do ask, and invoke Jesus again, is that we each choose to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. No law can require a church to perform a marriage ceremony between people of the same gender, and no law should preclude a church from performing that ceremony.

    Please be in peace, and pray for all who profess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, whether we are straight, gay, undecided or any other thing. “And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” said Paul to the church in Corinth. “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 12:31b; 13:8-13, NIV)

  • Darrell Maines

    All I can say is Amen.

  • Laurel

    I, too, am most proud to call you my pastor.

  • Darrell

    I don’t profess to be a theologian, but I do my best every day to exude my love for Christ. I have been in a same sex monogamous relationship for almost 17 years. This is a lot longer than most of our straight friends. My partner and I have adopted a son and will be hopefully adopted a girl in the very near future. My partner and I have discussed the idea of marriage many times and don’t really feel that it is right for us. We don’t need some peice of paper to tell us what we know in our hearts. I have heard many people say that the gays don’t even want the rights of marriage, they just want the “title”. I can tell you that this is not the case for us or any of our friends. My partner and I don’t even really care about most of the “marriage package”. We just want to make sure that if something happens to either one of us, our children’s lives will continue with the other partner. That’s pretty much it. We have wonderful supportive families and we have wills, living wills, POA’s, etc. which any couple married or not should have anyway. If you ask any of our friends, they have the same idea. I think that most of gay friends are only peteitioning for Marriage Equality because of those rights. One thing I did overhear in a recent conversation was that if so many people are pushing the idea of honoring marriage in a religious, Biblical sense, why aren’t more people honoring this sanctity themselves. Cheating on spouses, divorcing, not being a virgin at the time of marriage, etc. It the heterosexuals who profess to be Christians can’t get it right, why are you so denying us the right to it?

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      thanks for sharing, darrell, and good luck on that baby girl.

  • Anne

    jgawne55, beautiful reply. thank you.

  • Kristin

    Let’s take Christian morality and God out of this equation for a moment. I am undesrtanding Rev. Erin to say that this is more of an equality issue than anything else. She is quoting the Declaration of Independence, not the Bible in this blog. And the D of I states that all men (which now, of course, includes women, blacks, etc.) are created equal. The equality should extend to all things, I believe, including marriage, regardless of your religious beliefs. It is a matter of doing the right thing legally for the masses, not personally for an individual’s soul. That is another issue.

    Now, I don’t believe pastors should be forced to perform Christian marriage services for gay couples if it is against their denominational (or personal) beliefs; gay couples should be allowed to marry in any state in civil services. It is a legal/civil issue for our country and society as a whole, who may or may not be associated with any one religion. Marriage is not solely a Christian sacrament. Atheists, agnostics, non-believers marry. Should we deny them as well? As a society we cannot raise up our Christian beliefs to abolish the human rights of others. We are denying partners and children legal benefits based on a form of religious persecution.

    Rev. Erin might see this law as a form of hate. I don’t. I see it as an issue of religious superiority, educational ignorance and societal laziness and it is unfortunate.

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      wise and well-said, krisin. thank you.

  • Mark Riffee

    Erin;
    I could not disagree with you more. Though I know by commenting I will be branded with the “hate and bigot” monikers that are so easily thrown around every time some one with liberal views does not get there way. I can not imagine in what world this has become so large an issue. As a Person of Faith that reads scripture everyday and struggles mightily to show not just faith but just faith in all that I do, I must say that I don’t give a damn who you sleep with. Is it so bad to maintain marriage for heterosexual couples and creat a nifty new name for homosexual couples? I do not have a vast plethora of gay friends but I do have family members a more than a few that are gay couples and they all think this is nonsense. In all 32 states where this has come up it has been voted down it seems to me that more than just a few people have spoken and we are after a representative republic not a democracy. I also have to take issue with the whole “street cred” thing. I couldn’t care less what Europe and the rest of the world think, apparently it’s not all bad most of the world still would like to emigrate to our great nation. The constitution and to some measure the Declaration also only seek to give all equal opportunity not equal results. As I stated before we have far greater problems in this country, not the least of which being any conservative that disagrees with a liberal gets branded bigot or accused of hate speech. I am not either I only wish for The United States to take back our spot as the shining light atop the hill for all to strive for. As a great man on e said ” Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
    May Our Lord and Redeemer continue to Bless and honor you

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      Mark, I don’t think branding it marriage is the issue–it is the rights and privileges and benefits that go with marriage that are being withheld from a large demographic of the population, whether it is hate or just misinformation that is to blame. And like it or not, we are a global society. Our credibility with the rest of the free world is a concern, for the economy, for global peace, and for the sharing of resources. I say ‘street cred’ lightly, but it is a significant bigger picture.

  • Terry T.

    Whew–I didn’t think I would ever find this spot! Wonderfully said Erin, I am going to take it for granted that you won’t care if I quote you or print this to put on all my office doors. Hoping to see you all soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kacarlton Karen Carlton

    All I can say is that I may move to Arizona just so you can be my pastor. Thank you so much! A breath of fresh air for those of us on the ground here in North Carolina. It’s been a tough week.

    • http://www.irreverin.com irreverins

      i bet, karen. thanks for reading. i’m sure you could find a church (though it might be hard) near you that is a little more open-minded on these things…but we’d love to have you in AZ!


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