There has been a lot of brouhaha over businesses who provide services actually refusing to provide those services when it comes to gay marriages. Like, a LOT of brouhaha. Gay couples are being turned away, businesses are being sued into oblivion, and both sides are firmly entrenched in crying discrimination.
Discrimination is an interesting term, but it has no bearing on what I want to talk about today, because I know that if I get into that argument, many of you will not listen to my actual point. So instead of arguing about who is being discrimated against, I want to talk only to my Christian sisters and brothers, and I want to talk about this: Walking the Second Mile…
I should start by saying that I genuinely love Rachel’s blog. I don’t meet many Christians who think like I do (since moving to Vegas, oddly), so sometimes reading her thoughts is validating and satisfying for me. I loved this post, too, but then I wanted to take it a step further. She says that loving our neighbor may mean sacrifice, even walking the second mile, which is in reference to an oppressive Roman law that required Jews to carry the heavy packs of the soldiers for one mile. But walking the second mile was not about neighbors, it was about enemies and those who persecute us.
Jesus said to do that, and so much more, in Matthew 5. His words are powerful, radical, and culturally against the norm of that time (and now):
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (emphasis mine)
We are to love even our enemies, no matter what, in all conditions and at all levels of persecution.
But here is the real kicker: gay people are not our enemies and they are not persecuting us. Asking a bakery to provide a cake for an event is not persecution. Asking a photographer for wedding photos, or a florist for flower arrangements, is not slapping us on the cheek and it’s not asking us to walk a mile. It’s asking us to be a neighbor, to be in community.
We are to love our enemies to an extraordinary level, per the words of our Savior, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. AS OURSELVES. Huh. This isn’t a novel idea, friends, it has been written down for 2,000 years.
People of faith are the ones drawing the hard line when it comes to this issue and then wondering why people can’t respect our beliefs. Maybe because we are not living them. We are busy throwing stones, yet we act amazed when someone lobs one back our way. Some of these businesses have been sued, and there is outrage over that. I have to ask why? Were those other words (the emphasized ones above) not clear? If you are sued, give your coat, too. Our instructions are perfectly clear and there is no way to argue those words from Christ. We may not like them, they may not feel just, but they are the words we agreed to live by when we accepted Christ.
I am dismayed that we have made homosexuality the hard line, because we are so ready to sweep the line away for other things. Divorce among Christians being the biggest log in the eye to any arguments about the sanctity of marriage. Why is the sin of homosexuality the one we have decided we must take a stand against, at all costs, at the cost of the losing our neighbors and making them enemies?
I prayerfully ask you to consider the way you treat your enemies, but even more so, how you treat your neighbors, especially those with which you have little or nothing in common…neighbors that you may really dislike. Jesus had strong words about that, too, in a little story we like to call “The Good Samaritan.” Jesus told us to do these things because he knew that his brand of radical love was what it would take to save the world. Apparently, we are not interested in his mission these days.