Yesterday I wrote the first episode of what I hope will be a trilogy of thoughts about the topic of advocating for justice. Thanks for your comments yesterday; I hope today’s thoughts will generate some more. Here is my reflection question of the day:
Do I need a reason to speak out other than justice in the generic sense?
On the one hand: Why do I want to advocate for marriage and ordination for all people regardless of sexual orientation? Because I believe sexuality is a gift from God, and God’s justice (as articulated in the scriptures and revealed over time to generations upon generations of witnesses) seems to me to demand that all persons be valued as individuals with integrity and sacred worth.
On the other hand: Why does my conversation partner down the street want to advocate for a position contrary to mine? Because he believes same-sex practices are sinful, and God’s justice (as articulated in the scriptures and revealed over time to generations upon generations of witnesses) seems to him to demand that sinners repent of their sin in order to receive forgiveness and live in wholeness as the body of Christ.
I’m not trying to get hung up on homosexuality as an issue, but simply to use it as a case study. I am not gay, yet feel called by God to speak out for justice for those who are. I have no stake in the discussion personally, other than to affirm and advocate for justice. But my conversation partner is not anti-justice, for goodness’ sake! In fact, justice is a big part of his faith. So if justice is all I have, it just comes down to my version of justice versus his, and the conversation goes nowhere. Both of our opinions are informed and reasonable. But nothing gets changed, and we are stuck with the status quo.
But if I had a personal stake in the issue (i.e. if I were gay), things would be different. The justice would be more than just “as articulated in the scriptures and revealed over time to generations upon generations of witnesses,” it would be justice as it impacts my life directly. I know that injustice in one part of the body is injustice for all, but I am talking about a tangible, concrete manifestation of the injustice. (Likewise if I were poor or homeless or physically challenged etc.) My voice would carry more credibility, more authority, maybe more legitimacy.
Use my privilege to advance the cause of justice, you say. Use my unearned and undeserved power, granted to me simply because of the circumstances of my birth, to fight for justice and peace throughout the land, you say. (I have a friend who calls me “Action Figure Andy” in reference to my justice-fighting tendencies.) Yes, I hear all of that, and rest assured that I will continue to do so. That is a choice I am making in response to who God is calling me to become. I am definitely not trying to avoid the obligations of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, namely fighting for God’s justice on earth as it is in heaven. I’m just trying to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling!
Here’s an analogy that may be helpful, may be not. My hero is Luke Skywalker, the reluctant Jedi. Remember him? He becomes a Jedi knight, fighting for the cause of peace and justice throughout the galaxy, only after his own family is killed by the empire. And he is most impassioned about the quest when Han, Leia, and Chewie are in danger. There is energy in Luke’s fight because he has a personal stake in its outcome; his friends, his family, and even his own personal identity are on the line.
All my life, I have been lucky enough to experience injustice only through the lives of others. I’m not proud of that; I’m not “blessed” by that; it just is. But the Galactic Empire never burned down my uncle’s farm on Tatooine. My personal identity is not at stake in this fight. Yet I fight. I fight.
Tomorrow I am planning to write a “Part 3” to this reflection. After two rather deconstructionist posts, hopefully I’ll have some things tomorrow that9 will be more constructive. In the meantime, thank you for the fantastic comments on yesterday’s post, and I hope to see some more on this one.
May The Force Be With You,