Thursday, July 25, 2013

Here's Your Verse!

Ephesians 5:22 (NASB95) — 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:25 (NASB95) — 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 
John 13:34 (NASB95) —34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Maybe it’s the heat of summer. I know that several years ago, summer heat was seemingly blamed for a lot of heated protests. Maybe that’s what’s happening today. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m hearing lots of protest. Not that some of it isn’t legitimate and deserved, mind you. Who in their right mind wants to pretend that there aren’t some real problems that should be addressed? And for those real, legitimate protests, I say go right ahead.

But a lot of the hot air expelled lately is just that. It’s hot air. Real facts are ignored and emotions run high. That’s a recipe for trouble any day. Years ago somebody told me that if you want to guarantee that you’ll get run over, just stand in the middle of the road on any hotly debated topic. And that’s exactly what’s happened to me. Why? Because my personal opinion is that George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin are the wrong guys to use as a basis for a racism debate. There are just too many conflicting facts.

If you favor Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is a cold-blooded murderer. Never mind that he was acquitted by a jury of his peers. Never mind that the people involved in the trial said it wasn’t about race. Never mind that George Zimmerman isn’t white. At most he’s Hispanic, and I’ve read that his ancestry includes a black great-grandfather. And you have to discount a physical altercation that likely was precipitated by Trayvon Martin.

If you favor George Zimmerman, you must ignore the fact that he exceeded the responsibilities of a neighborhood watch captain. You have to ignore the fact that he spent way too much time following Martin, and ignored the 911 operator who told him they didn’t need him to follow Martin.

Here’s another truth. Either of them could have simply left the scene and avoided an altercation. That’s a fact. Either of them. I think what you really have is a terrible tragedy, but it’s not the basis for a racism discussion. But this may be exactly why it’s being used this way. There’s just enough confusion, just enough argument for each side, just enough so that manipulated by people with an agenda on either side of the divide, they can make a case. That feeds dissention, and that feeds all the rhetoric, and that feeds hatred, animosity and hostility.

What real truth does all the rhetoric ignore? It ignores the truth about violence in the U.S. You can go look this up. The United States government actually keeps statistics on these kinds of things. By far violent deaths against blacks is caused by other blacks. Just about the same statistical fact is true for whites. The vast majority is caused by other whites. The inconvenient truth for those who want to stoke the race fires is that a young black man in the United States today is in far greater danger from others of his own race, and the same is true for young white men. Want to address the real problem faced by our young people. Start here.

Now I’ve seen signs with references to Bible passages. “Love your neighbor,” was one. OK. I agree. We should love our neighbor. But let me suggest, it’s the wrong person, using the passage in the wrong way. Let me explain.

Years ago, I ran a counseling center. We provided Christian counseling to the southern part of metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. We did a lot of marriage counseling, and a lot of those we counseled were Christians. Here is an amazing thing, witnessed over and over, when Christian couples came for counseling. The husband would come in and say, “You know, if you could just help my wife be submissive, like the Bible teaches, we wouldn’t have any problems.” And the wife would say, “You know, if you would help my husband love me like the Bible teaches, we wouldn’t have any problems.” Now there is a lot of truth in both statements. I have no doubt but that husbands needed to love their wives and that wives needed to submit to their husbands. We would get around to addressing those issues in counseling. So where’s the problem?

The problem is that people were using the wrong passage. You want to know which verse was written to husbands? It was Ephesians 5:25. Husband, love your wife. Until a husband refocused on the passage that was his, his marriage seldom improved. Want to know which verse was written to wives? It was Ephesians 5:22. Wives, be subject to your own husbands. Until a wife refocused on the passage that was hers, her marriage seldom improved.

That brings me to the broader point I’m writing about. “Love one another.” And that is reflected in a variety of ways. “Love your neighbor.” “Love your enemies.” But it does little good to write those slogans on signs and wave them around demanding that some other, nameless person should get it together and start doing what the Bible teaches. I doubt anybody has ever seen such a sign and experienced a sudden epiphany. “Oh! I didn’t know that. Why, I must start that right this moment.” No. That’s not how it happens.

Instead, it’s people willing to do the hard work and make the personal application. “Love your neighbor.” Yep. That’s what the Bible says, I believe the Bible is God’s word, I’m trying to learn and become what God wants, so this is something I need to do.”

We need less sign waving and more people who will simply go out and love their neighbors. “Yes, but they need to go first!” Really? Exactly where in your Bible does it tell you that you don’t have to implement God’s teachings until the other guy goes first? That’s playground talk. It’s immature kid-stuff. None of us should wait for the other guy. Just start.

I think that people can actually have serious and different opinions about a lot of things, including George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. But you don’t get to then make false accusations about people with a different view. You don’t get to feed your suspicions of people, and decide what’s in their heart. Isn’t that exactly the kind of problems that produced the Zimmerman/Martin case to begin with? If you don’t like the way it went down, repeating the same stereotyped thinking will neither undo it, nor prevent from happening again. And folks on both sides are claiming they don’t want it to happen again. Really? Exactly how does feeding animosity, hatred and prejudice produce something different than what animosity, hatred and prejudice has always produced?

So, if you want to hold up a protest sign that reads, "Love your neighbor," I'm all for you. I just hope you're proclaiming your love for your neighbor, not demanding something that you're not willing to do.