Peace & sanctity
As a Christian, I reflect and pray often on peace and how to achieve it inwardly and outwardly. I confess that both are a struggle for me, and on my best days any success of either is halfbaked.
Peace is not just the absence of war; it is also the absence of violence. A large part of peace is also the presence of justice.
A country or government may not be engaged in a war, but it can still have enough violence to overflow its borders. Domestic violence, rape, abortion, violent crimes that include racism, sexism, ageism, unfortunately the list goes on and on and on.
Anything that violates the sanctity of life or “personhood” can be classified as violence, or in Christian terms classified as the Antichrist or as “anti Christ”.
Besides this being the “season of peace”, the convergence of two recent events got me thinking about this issue – the defeat of the gay marriage proposal and the anti-Mormon ads that ensued, and the recent conviction of O.J. Simpson for armed robbery and kidnapping.
I wondered where all the Christians - who were so concerned about the sanctity of marriage being devalued by two same-sex people making a commitment to each other - were when it was discovered that O.J. was beating the living daylights out of his wife and finally killed her?
Why was there no organized outcry about the sanctity of marriage from these professed Christians then? If I were someone outside of the American culture, it would appear to me that it is perfectly Christian to beat your spouse – especially if that spouse is the female half of that “one man, one woman” equation.
Where were these Christians a few years ago, when Brittany Spears had her 55-hour marriage? You remember that one – she was married one day then had the marriage annulled 2 1/2 days later? It was all a lark to her and the media – and apparently to those Christians who voted down the gay marriage amendments because there was no organized outcry then.
Or how about when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were making a mockery of the sanctity of marriage vows by cavorting around the planet to the delight of the media - and everyone else, it seemed. Why was there no organized outcry from these Christians about the sanctity of marriage then?
I saw not one TV commercial, brochure or door-to-door campaign addressing the above from these folks. Not one.
And then these same Christians wonder why they are mocked. Try a little consistency, for Christ's sake if not for your own.
At a weekly Saturday peace vigil this past spring, a born again Christian noticed my sign (“War is not Christ's Way) and struck up a conversation with me that had the slight flavor of not really approving of my presence at such a gathering. What she talked about was gays and the sanctity of marriage, specifically that allowing gay marriage would impinge on the sanctity of her marriage. My response to her was that she should treat her marriage as if it were something sacred.
If we as Christians (or, more accurately, just some Christians) are going to define marriage simply as a covenant between a man and a woman, we are selling the whole sacrament short. How about including respect, honor and compassion, just to name a few values that ought to be included?
As a social worker, I have not done much work with domestic violence programs, but I know this much: the vast majority of the Christians who were out stumping against the gay marriage amendment are not breaking down the doors of the shelters, asking how they can help.
Our “one man, one woman” marriages are disintegrating at an alarming rate - I think the stats are that 50 percent end in divorce after three years, and the ensuing years do not provide much of a yield, either. We need to take the log out of own eyes before we go trying to remove the splinter from our brothers' and sisters' eyes.
If the gay and lesbian community wants to partake of the marriage partnership (which I support, by the way), then bashing a group that is against you is not the way to go. The gay and lesbian community ran a commercial where two Mormons knock on a door and tell the people inside, “We're the Mormon Church and we're here to take away your rights.” (As for the Mormons, let's be honest here; they originally defined marriage as being between one man and more than one woman. The church changed its policy so Utah could become a state and not because of some divine revelation. This is not meant as a slight – it's just fact.)
Can you image the outcry from the gay and lesbian community if a group ran a commercial with a gay couple knocking on their neighbor's door and saying, “We're a gay couple and we're here to force our lifestyle on you”? They'd be livid - and rightfully so.
Neither attitude does much to foster peace. It looks to me like we've got a lot of work to do on all sides.