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Mar212012

Bending toward justice

What’s the expiration date of hate? The shelf life of discrimination? The half life of exclusion? 

There is one, you know. Today’s institutional, systemic discrimination is tomorrow’s acceptance. 

You can bemoan that fact as a symptom of moral relativism or the liberalization of society or you can champion that fact as symptom of right winning out over wrong, but it doesn’t matter. 

Maurice Maeterlinck wrote, “At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past.”

Whether you’re a stumbling block or conduit, discrimination does have a shelf life.
 
Case in point: if you told me when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s that the presidential election of 2012 would have an incumbent African-American president, a Democrat, sparring with three possible Republican nominees—one a Mormon, one a Catholic, and the other a Lutheran turned Baptist turned Catholic who has chosen wives as many times as he’s chosen denominations—I would’ve laughed at your ridiculous ideas. 

Just in my 30 years of life, I’ve heard people argue that a person’s race, a person’s religion (denomination!), or a person’s marital history not only precludes them from being a good leader, but also precludes him or her from being a whole person. The societal qualifications for complete personhood change.  Opinions change.  Things change.
 
Things progress. You can call yourself whatever you wish—moderate, liberal, conservative, etc.—and by all means follow and vote your convictions—but the world is progressing. And there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that people can do to stop it. 

Slow it down, sure. But you can’t stop it. The Arab Spring has sprung. Interracial couples marry and are more accepted. Women are ordained to serve as deacons, as ministers, as pastors in Baptist?—yes, Baptist—churches. People with disabilities are finding more societal support and understanding and less discrimination.
 
You can argue notable exceptions to this white man’s thoughts about discrimination. You’d have a fair point.  You can argue that people who peddle discrimination will always have a good living. You’re right. You can argue that, even in this election, people suggest that it’s more tolerable to be Catholic than Mormon (though they don’t care for either one), that it’s more acceptable to be black than to be married three times (though they don’t care for either one), more acceptable to be conservative than liberal, more acceptable to be moderately wealthy than to be ridiculously wealthy (though they don’t care for either one). 

Discrimination hasn’t changed, you might argue, but the list of things we’ll tolerate has. Perhaps you’re right.
 
My point is this: if there’s safety in numbers, opinions that elevate one group of people and subjugate another will only be culturally safe for a certain amount of time. Discrimination is a gamble. History suggests it’s a losing gamble.

Know when to walk away from your hate. Know when to run. Progressing takes blood, sweat, and tears. Not progressing is more difficult and, ultimately, less successful.
 
What if your principles guide your acceptance or lack of acceptance? What if you’re not concerned about societal whims, just about the difference between right and wrong? If you’re a Christian, this is both your principle statement and your principal statement: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Let the dissection of the words love and neighbor continue just as they have for millennia; the progress of the world will continue even with the etymological dissection.
 
“The arc of the moral universe is long,” Martin Luther King said, “but it bends toward justice.”
 
Let the bending continue.

-Josh Hunt is pastor of Ross Grove Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C.

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Reader Comments (7)

yes. yes and heck yes.

I enjoyed reading this.
Well said.

Mar 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJImmy Spencer Jr

"What’s the expiration date of hate? The shelf life of discrimination? The half life of exclusion? "

I can partially answer that. There are two types of Discrimination, the first is when your own Government Discriminates against you. The second is Private Discrimination, when people feel no shame in saying, "I can tell by looking at you, you are a dyke, sorry we don't hire Dykes here"

Private Discrimination only starts to reduce once Government sponsored Discrimination ends.
You can estimate the expiration date of Hate commencing on the date that the Government stops discriminating.

The 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia ended all restrictions on interracial marriage in the United States. But a Gallup poll a year later in 1968 showed that only 20 percent of Americans supported marriage between whites and black; 73 percent opposed:
While many suggest that marriage equality for same-sex couples is inevitable, public polling suggests that compared to the most similar issue, interracial marriage, the law is far behind public opinion.

The 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia ended all restrictions on interracial marriage in the United States. But a Gallup poll a year later in 1968 showed that only 20 percent of Americans supported marriage between whites and black; 73 percent opposed:

Note that a plurality did not support interracial marriage until 1991, almost 25 years after Loving v. Virginia was decided, and it was another six years until there was an actual majority! (In Mississippi just one month ago, 46 percent of Republicans still oppose interracial marriage.)
http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/05/20/177434/same-sex-interracial-marriage/?mobile=nc

“The arc of the moral universe is long,” Martin Luther King said, “but it bends toward justice.”

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStraightGrandmother

It might bend a little quicker if more Pastors reached up and helped pull it towards justice, like you are. Many thanks.

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStraightGrandmother

Look, when exactly IS IT, that you put your Faith in Action???

WCNC spoke to a few members of Pastor Charles Worley's Providence Road Baptist Church, asking them if they backed Worley's sermon advocating the imprisonment and killing of gays and lesbians within an electricified fence.

"Forty years ago [LGBT people] would've hung, bless God, from a white oak tree!"

Said church member Geneva Sims: “He had every right to say what he said about putting them in a pen and giving them food. The Bible says they are worthy of death. He is preaching God’s word.”

Another, Stacey Pritchard, agreed: “Sometimes you’ve got to be scared straight. He is trying to save those people from Hell.”

You are talking Sunday School Books while Baptists are advocating internment camps and DEATH for sexual minorities. God Forbid you would spend any political capital on forcefully speaking out, and being a leader in recruiting others to forcefully condemn this Baptist Preacher. Let's just pretend this doesn't happen, ignore it and it will go away, (except it NEVER GOES AWAY) let's talk about Sunday School books instead. How CAN you turn your heads away? How can you?

Read more: http://www.towleroad[DOT]com/2012/05/provmembers.html#ixzz1vhq8cmO6

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStraightGrandmother

http://www.wcnc[DOT]com/home/Members-stand-behind-pastor-who-gave-homophobic-sermon-152735295.html

Worley went on to say homosexuality makes him “puking sick.” According to Brent Childers of the non-profit organization Faith in America, statements like that are detrimental to young people in America.

“That is what makes young LGBTs feel there is no hope,” said Childers, who also believes religious leaders like Worley hurt the public’s perception of the Christian faith.

Newschannel 36 tried to reach Charles Worley by phone and email. Reporter Dianne Gallagher stopped by his home Tuesday to speak with him, but no one answered the door.

“He has nothing to hide,” said Pritchard. “He’s not afraid of anything he said. He’s a good man. It’s a good church and he speaks the truth. He doesn’t tiptoe around it.”

She told Newschannel 36 her pastor is being unfairly judged, in her opinion, and has even been threatened since the video went viral.

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStraightGrandmother

Below is a comment from another gay website I read
TowleRoad.
This comment was posted in response the the Hang them from the old oak tree pastor.
From one of Dan Savage's blog posts:

"I'm a 32-year-old lesbian who's been out for 10 years... raised in a very conservative Pentecostal family... haven't seen my family for 10 years. I've always held out hope that they would change their minds and realize that they do love me... I got a call from my oldest sister last month... she told me that she needed my help. Her son was gay and she needed me to come and get him. I didn't understand what she meant at first. I thought she wanted me to come and talk to him. But, no, she meant come and get him. She didn't want that "filth"—her own son—in her home. When I picked him up a large part of my family was there, and I swear to God I had never felt so much hate in my life. I don't understand it and I know I never will, but I swear it broke me..."

Can you feel the love of the Christ? 'Cause with some of His followers I sure don't.

Read more: http://www.towleroad[DOT]com/2012/05/provmembers.html...

Do you have any idea how MANY comments I have read exactly like the one above, hundreds, perhaps thousands by now, since I have been reading gay websites since January of 2010.

You simply MUST wade in and read the gay websites to understand what it is like on the other side of the fence. And if Pastor Worley had his way that would be an electrified fence.
Websites-
GoodAsYou
BoxTurtleBulletin
JoeMyGod

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStraightGrandmother

The complicity of silence
Timothy Kincaid
May 22nd, 2012

It isn’t reasonable to hold one pastor responsible for what another one preaches. There is a great deal of diversity of thought and theology within Christendom and there is no presumption that what is said from the pulpit at First Baptist Church in any way mirrors the beliefs of All Saints Episcopal Church. We don’t hold one church accountable.

Usually.
But sometimes something so outlandish is said in the name of faith that it requires a denunciation. A rejection. A refutation.

And the words of North Carolina pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church calling for placing gays and lesbians behind electric fences is beyond the pale. This is not a casual suggestion, this is not a theological position, this is not a difference of perspective, this is not an idea with which we are unfamiliar and about which reasonable people could differ. This is advocacy for evil.

So now we will see whether The Church responds.

Certainly there will be those who are asked and who will, naturally, say that they do not support such a notion. But will they be willing to call such a sermon evil or ungodly? Will they be willing to publicly refute Worley and chastise him? Are they brave enough to declare that such a proposition is anti-Christ and that it reflects a heart that is not right with God? Will whatever Baptist organization with which he is affiliated pull his license?

These are not just reasonable responses, they are required responses. When a sermon calls for an act that is of such a level of evil, godly persons cannot stand by and claim that they have no responsibility.

To say nothing is to condone Worley’s position. So be silent is to be complicit.

Church, take notice. It is your response by which today’s youth will judge you. If you say nothing, those who are unchurched will assume that Worley speaks for you.

It is a reasonable assumption.

http://www.boxturtlebulletin[DOT]com/2012/05/22/44779

Make SURE and read the readers comments.

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStraightGrandmother

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