Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Vice & Virtue of "Being Salt"

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. 
(Col. 4:6)

I find it hard to concentrate today except on the angry retorts flying carelessly and blatantly around on cyber and social mediums. You see, I am from North Carolina. If you read that but don't have a clue why that is proportional right now - consider yourself the blessed one.

Yesterday, about 37% of registered voters in North Carolina participated in our 2012 primary election. At the top of the pile was a controversial Amendment concerning constitutionally banning of same-sex marriage within the state. Approved by a rather wide margin, the Amendment is now to be inserted into the NC constitution. After reading and listening and trying to comprehend the protest of some of those on the "Against the Amendment" side, I felt somewhat compromised. 

I am a Christian, one who has chosen to accept Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for all my sins, for I believe the Bible when it says that He is truly the only way to God the Father: the Way, the Truth, the Life (Jn 14:6). I choose to follow God's Word because I trust Him, He is worthy of my praise, and He is the Creator of all things. He designed mankind, the world, and the amazing intricacies of nature. 

He is a proactive God and cares deeply for His creation - whether or not we choose to live in His way. He loves us. He hates violence and abuse and little children are precious to Him. This is where those who do not truly comprehend the sovereignty and great love of God will accuse Him of allowing bad things to happen. But that very mindset, free thinking, which helped you to think that God is at fault for the mess this world is in is actually a gift from the God you accuse. He designed you with a nature to think and to make your choices. We have the opportunity to choose His Word, the Bible, as a compass of His own perfectly designed map for our lives. But mankind has chosen since the beginning of time to stray away from God's way, and so it is our own choices that has put our world in disarray. 

Let me be clear. Though I do not believe that same-sex unions are acceptable to God, I was not happy with Amendment One in its simplistic form. I have read the language and the original intent of the Amendment. In such a transient society and because there are a handful of states that allow same-sex marriages, it's just a matter of time before a "married" same-sex couple from somewhere like NY would move to NC and ask to be treated as married with all the rights and privileges. I see the issue here. HOWEVER, in my opinion, the Amendment is too silent on cases of abuse and the protection of children from same-sex and other unrecognized unions. Protestors of the Amendment are angry, in part, because it seems - by the overwhelming 61% vote FOR the amendment - that NC is a cold, heartless state that does not care about the rights of others. I do not believe that the majority of those 61% voted even with the knowledge that protective rights may be compromised by the passing of the Amendment. (Though I have been informed that many lawyers & politicians vouch that this will not be the case in NC.) Many of the ones that voted FOR the amendment do not agree with abuse and violence in any form - and would never want to know that there were children in our state with no protection. I don't believe that for a second. But, the ones that voted against the amendment are extremely concerned about rights being taken away. It's difficult to think that we'll ever walk on the same path again with such diverse and polarized opinions.

I can't answer for everyone, but I can answer for myself. As a campus minister for almost ten years, I have seen almost everything under the sun. I have heard all kinds of arguments. I have ministered to students with extreme and alternative lifestyles. Every one of them soundly loved by the omnipotent God who created them, and because of that, I choose to love them, too. Though I may not agree with choices made by those around me, my heart goes out to any that would be harmed - regardless. Violence is never okay. Child abuse or neglect is never okay. Just because I do not believe certain unions are right does not make me a hatemonger though. So tired of being called that by angry "friends" and acquaintances who disagree with the Amendment. It is just unfortunate that the Amendment forced us to, inadvertently, vote against the protection of some of our citizens - no matter their lifestyle.  And I am hoping that the fine state of NC will take the higher road in the days ahead on that issue.

Let me close with this. I was brought to tears today by the resounding fact that many Christians have jumped on the bandwagon of this Amendment without an inkling of what the other side is concerned about. The profanity, the hateful remarks, and careless attitudes of some Christians toward those that may be against the Amendment surely must grieve the heart of God. I am sickened by the militant and angry attitudes on both sides. The Bible tells us that we (Christians) will be reviled, persecuted, mocked. Why are you surprised at that? But we certainly are not told by God to give back what we get. Stand on what you believe, speak of your convictions, but be gracious about it. Period.

Today I was talking to a barista at a local Starbucks that I frequent. He was struggling with the outcome and it was obvious that he did not agree. He asked my opinion, so I felt this was my opportunity to tell him that I was a Christian. Using graciousness in my explanation, I told him what I personally believed, but also merited my own concerns about the possible para-issues of the Amendment. In a quick prayer, I asked God to help me place a little salt on this guy's tongue. Not into his eyes and wound him. Just a little on his tongue.

Jesus said that we are the SALT OF THE EARTH. Sadly, all I have seen some Christians do lately is sling their salt into the eyes and wounds of those who oppose them. That is not what Jesus meant. We are to let those around us taste the savor of Jesus through our gracious speech. The verse says ALWAYS be gracious, no exception. Even in a voting year.

If you are a Christian, has your salt lost its saltiness?