There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For we are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:38)
In this election year, we have constantly heard mean, nasty, degrading speeches as part of the Republican debates and primary election ads. We have heard:
- women reduced to human incubators by removing their ability to make decisions about their own bodies,
candidates accused of infanticide because they believe a woman should be able to make their own decisions,
the poor defined as insignificant while bragging about driving two Cadillacs,
personal religious beliefs slandered,
a whole segment of society is prevented from having recognized loving relationships,
and code words used in place of the ‘N’ word to denigrate and demean anyone who is not like them.
In my sixty-some years, I have never heard such language and disrespect for other people. For a country that professes to be a ‘Christian’ nation, what I see is about as far away from acting in the way Jesus taught as you could possibly get. It makes me ashamed – and appalled that those who truly follow Jesus’ teachings are so silent.
Aren’t we sending a message to those non-religious or unchurched a message that we ‘Christians’ are hypocrites at the highest level!
And in my humble opinion, at the root of all this . . . what is really the unspoken issue . . . what no one wants to say
- Is RACISM!
Those people who are fundamentally opposed to an African-American president are using code words like ‘Food Stamp President’ to display their own hidden prejudice and bigotry.
But as we heard in the Scripture reading, Jesus taught that no one is better than another. This was very revolutionary at the time, because society was based on the ‘haves and have-nots’. There were distinct class differences: the upper class did not associate with the poor, servants were not recognized by their masters, people with illness or disabilities were abandoned on the streets.
Jesus’ proclamation that we are all equal in the eyes of God upset all the cultural boundaries of the day. . . and still does today.
But he said again and again, that we are all one in Jesus – equal in the eyes of God. That means that each one of us, no matter whether
- Upper class, middle class or poor
Homeless or housed
Healthy or disabled
Educated or illiterate
Black or white
Straight or gay
Are equal in the eyes of God. . . are to be loved and respected as each of our brothers and sisters.
Did everyone forget the Golden Rule:
do unto others as you would have them do unto you? (Matthew 7:12)
And I have to say, that as much as we see all this in the public arena, I have also seen it in our own community. Lately, there has been an undercurrent which disturbs me – people are taking snipes at each other and making racial and sexual slurs.
I will tell you that is NOT the place for that. This is a house of God – where everyone is equal. We, as a community, should not and will not allow it to continue!
We all have our good points and the not-so-good sides of our personalities. At any time, we may be having a bad day, but that is NOT an excuse for treating our fellow brothers and sisters with disrespect. There is no place for any ‘–ism’ (racism, sexism, classism . . .) in this place. . . or in God’s kingdom!
When we are hurt, we want to hurt back, but often the one who hurts us is too powerful, so a safe substitute is found. We find someone that we tell ourselves is lesser than us and blame everything on them. So many riots and wars have been fueled by this anger and bigotry. In the period of a depressed economy, more and more people are jockeying for a position in society. . . which, if not recognized and controlled, can cause one group of people to purposely denigrate and defile another. It may be subtle, using code words so only those who feel that same way understand the ‘–ism’. Or it may be very obvious and blatant.
But this lack of love for our brothers and sisters is a SIN!
We are all equal in the eyes of God.
We have the responsibility to expose these hidden ‘–isms’ so that we can all walk together. . . any race, any creed, any background, any gender, any culture, any socio-economic level.
We need to:
- Acknowledge our own negative thoughts, feelings and attitudes of fear, anxiety, anger, guilt
Acknowledge our thoughts, feeling and attitudes toward those who are different
Acknowledge that we are all children of the same Creator
Acknowledge that hate, bigotry and –isms prevent us from living into the fullness of a life in Christ
And then we need to cleanse our hearts and minds of those things that feed the hatred and bigotry.
Let us pray:
Dear God, help us to remember that when we see with bigoted hearts, who not only do we reject you but also close ourselves off from experiencing all of your children. Help us to overcome these negative feelings and embrace all wonders of the world you have created.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church, Columbus, OH 26 February 2012