Beneath this contorted, soundbite driven, raging debate is, in my view, the real question: When does a fertilized egg in its development acquire, in the view of the state, the status of a full human being deserving constitutional rights and protections, like any other person?
Exactly what is the harm being done to anyone’s neighbor by the relationship of an LGBTQ couple? On the contrary, the harm we do to these brothers and sisters when we ostracize and condemn them is obvious. The HSR advises that the church declare that these brothers and sisters have no place in the church or the Kingdom of heaven. Shame on us if we make such a proclamation.
My work with RCA Disability Concerns has forced me to wrestle in deeper ways with ableism—the subtle, pervasive bias evident in attitudes, actions, or systems that consider a person with a disability as defective, broken, and “less than.” When I was hired in 2009 to launch this new RCA ministry, I resisted emphasizing the church’s many ableist practices because it seemed too difficult to start there. But as I’ve observed and repeatedly experienced ableist practices and systems over more than a decade, I’ve been convicted to name and challenge them.
Watching and listening to Eitan Haber, I felt the past and the present collapsing into each other. We were reliving the drama of Cain and Abel. Yigal Amir had murdered Yitshak Rabin, his brother in the faith, and Rabin’s blood was crying out to us from the text of Shir L’Shalom. One drama was interpreting the other. Rabin’s blood was crying out for peace and reconciliation, and I began wondering what the blood of Abel might have been crying. What did the blood of Abel want? What was it calling on the Lord to do?
The theme I should have preached is that hardly anyone gets it right away. Like the disciples, most of us are a little slow. I was definitely on the slower side. Faith takes a while, sometimes a very long time, which doesn’t make for a rousing Easter sermon, the kind I thought I was expected to preach. It wasn’t until the sun was high overhead that a few of the earliest disciples began to catch on, and even then there were many more who doubted.
We do have a gun violence problem in this country. In my view, both action and prayer can be appropriate ways to respond. But prayer alone, without active response has literally never worked to bring healing and wholeness to systemic issues in the United States. Ever.
There are difficult days ahead for Ukrainians, and the West must not back off from full support of their struggle against the Russians. As Pete Wehner has noted, in this terrible human drama, we are witnessing “ordinary people – including the young and the elderly – acting in extraordinary ways to defend the country they love, against overwhelming odds.” There are lessons here for us.
It has been my lot to chair the judicial business committees of three different classes and now this regional synod. Why should I do this, when I might better spend my time on Christ-and-Culture or spiritual iconography in the films of Tarkovsky? Or how to convert my front lawn into a haven for native pollinators? Why do I end up having to act like a canon lawyer when I want to live like Wendell Berry?
If our goal is not to punch our ticket to heaven and escape this world, but to live into the reality of the new creation, the role of Christian mission needs to be more than just teaching people to say a prayer or understand a truth. The goal is to have people see new creation in us, through us, and around us.