Thursday, April 26, 2012


I've had an epiphany. A moment of understanding.

I shared a joke & someone didn't get it, and as a result, I got something. Something else, actually, though something kind of related.

This letter on the left was on Facebook; Clare Hayns posted it there & I was amused by it. It is funny. The preamble to the letter tells us it's "hilarious", which for me is rather overstating the case, but it did make me smile.

It's funny because it takes a line used by good people who use and love the Scriptures but don't always think about what the consequences of their words might be. It then plays on that idea, and shows that if you make a complex issue too simple, you end up with chaos. Or Canadian slaves. President Jed Bartlet once did something similar, I recall, though it turns out it may have the same root.  

However - somebody commented to me in a very serious way about this. They just didn't get that it is intended to be funny. They didn't get that there was humour here, despite the way I'd tweeted it ("Humorous take...") and despite that word "hilarious" in the preamble. The subject matter, and the fact that someone was (for them) mishandling the Scripture overrode all of that.

Or they just didn't get it.

Now - don't any of you dare judge this person. Their reaction is crucial for all of us.

In the debate on Scripture & sexuality, all of us see things in certain ways which are blindingly obvious to us, and we are amazed that other people just don't get it. The key is - everyone in this whole mess is genuine, honest, and human. Lots of us are hurt in different ways. Many of us have much riding on the outcome of these debates - from the right to be counted as equal human beings to the question of which voice is more important in the Church - Bible or Society? As these debates play out not just within our walls but without as well, the ways those rights get called can seem to be somewhat fluid, and different sectors of the church feel they matter in different ways at different times.

What I am saying is - when we speak, when we debate, when we put forward things that seem blatantly true and Scriptural and godly, it may be that others reject what we say not because they are being awkward, spiteful, unBiblical and ungodly: they may just not get it. Even though we have labelled something "humorous" and used the word "hilarious", our brothers and sisters in faith simply didn't see the joke.

That's how people are, and if we can't exercise grace, if we can't love, if all we can do is pity the poor person, judge the poor person, feel pleased with ourselves & with gentle pride know ourselves better - then God help us, because we are lost. Lost. To go back to what I said in my last post - it's one of the things I love about the Holiness tradition I find in a place like Asbury at its best: there is no holiness without grace, without generosity and kindness and humanity and love.

Love your neighbour, says Jesus. He and she may not be a monster after all. For if we are to move forwards, at some point we are going to have to behave like Christians, however much we still disagree.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Sometimes the storms to forgiveness can be overwhelming, angst over how to forgive, can i forgive, especially when the wound is too deep. I thank God that he can show grace to us in his forgiveness that we may show grace to others. I thank God that his love is there. Life is full of doubts of forgiveness and thank you for sharing your experience. Forgiveness is so hard where relationships are concerned for example, domestic abuse its not just hitting, mental abuse can be worse how to forgive someone who is verbally nasty to you yet says "i love you", it can also make you really brave and the bigger person. Sharon Morris