Marriage, Money, and a Christian Culture Turned Toxic

angrywomanAt this very moment, fists are flying in an ongoing battle between marriage advocates and opponents. In my home state of Washington, marriage equality will appear on the ballot in November by referendum, with constituencies nationwide funneling money into both sides of the matter. Last month, the clash erupted yet again over statements made by a popular fried chicken restaurant and the anti-gay organizations they give money to.

That politically, we are energized enough to boycott or malign a company for its donations (read: philanthropy; read: charity—a virtue, mind you) for or against the cause, might be a better barometer for our moral code as a society than, say, if I wanted to marry my boyfriend eventually. That instinctive, reactionary kneejerk that sounds the boxing ring bell and gives us cause to spring upon one another. That we love money so damn much that we are appalled by the organizations others will give their finances to. These astounding facts cause me to stop. And rethink.  Especially now in this political season.

Don’t get me wrong, I pray for and politically oppose the many oranizations that perpetuate toxic falsehoods about me and have co-opted my belief system for their political rhetoric. But I can also say that when Amazon donated $2.5 million to marriage equality in Washington, the fact that money speaks so loudly in what we would all hope is a civilized society gave me pause in the debate, and brings me to my knees this election year.

I also pause over a Christian culture that does not recognize its own slander and hypocrisy against its brothers and sisters. One that discounts the faith of more “liberal” or “progressive” or “insert snide label” denominations. One that points to the Bible and says, “I’m not telling you you’re going to hell; God is,” or proclaim unfounded and ominous “prophecies” about the future of a nation that allows same-sex couples the same dues afforded opposite-sex couples, as though Christianity Today or Fox & Friends or The 700 Club were divinely appointed as the mouthpiece of God.

I pause over the haughty chuckles and hollow confidence in “history being on one’s side” from the other side—my side—of the aisle. For how we makes prophets of politicians. For making houses of prayer into dens of militiamen. Only when God’s intangibility, invisibility, and interminability lends himself to our profound uncertainty do we wholly and necessarily rely on him. Thus, certainty from any direction strikes me as anathema to a life of faith.

My point is this: Compassion, people!  One does not maintain any moral high ground in public discourse when history—and the Bible—proves that the sickle swings both ways.

I’ve read that same Book. Cover to cover, cover to cover. Enough to know that I’ve never found solid, clear, or concise instruction in its pages. Anywhere. At least not the type that’s cut-and-dried enough for laws written outside of a theocracy. From where I sit, what I’ve found are a bunch of sad-sack muthafukkas who continuously sought to craft a god in their own image only to discover One who obliterated their notions of righteousness. And grace. Time and time again.

And you know what? I like it that way. Because I’m a sad-sack muthafukka who secretly hopes God hates all the same people I do and will underwrite all the causes I wish to succeed.  Instead, I’m profoundly amazed (often on a daily basis) by the grace God extends to me, my family, my friends, often in spite of my expectations. I’m amazed by his love. I’m dumbstruck by the compassion Jesus showed Samaritans, lepers, and other outcasts who never asked or did a thing wrong except be born of the wrong heritage, on the wrong side of the tracks, with the wrong skin, and directly into inequality and indignity. And that is enough to give me an inkling—an inkling that God is bigger than even this squabble, a squabble I am deeply, deeply invested in.

An inkling that suggests that when all is said and done, when history comes to pass, and eternity is upon us, we may all stand surprised by how little God conforms to any of our expectations.

This is where I find hope, where I find faith, and where I find love. And are these not the greatest?

Photo credit : Matt P., cc

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]DAVID K. WHEELER is the author of Contingency Plans: Poems, a finalist for the Melville House 2011 Booksellers Choice Awards. He has written for The Morning News, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Burnside Writers Collective, and has poems forthcoming in Emerge Literary Journal and The Citron Review. Follow him on Twitter @daviewheeler.[/author_info] [/author]