Which side are you on?

A week ago today I was enjoying some rest and relaxation with the family at the beach. There are vacations where the mind continues to race even while you are away. Fortunately, this was a vacation where I even found my mind at rest. I really was able to disconnect, even if it was for only a couple of days.

With that said, I feel as though I am making up for it now. My head started spinning Friday with the Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex marriage but also (well, mostly) with people’s responses. This is equally true for responses on either side of the decision. My head was spinning too when I learned that a pastor I have appreciated through the years, Tullian Tchividjian, had to step down because a choice he made disqualified him from pastoral ministry.

So my head has been spinning, and truthfully, my heart has been saddened as well.

If you want to try and make a connection between these two events, feel free to do so; you probably can. I only mention them both to describe my state of mind. I only mention them to acknowledge that this world is not an easy world to live in.

If I told you two people were killed for their religious beliefs, where would you guess this took place? You would likely guess somewhere in the Middle East and not here on our own soil.

Do you know what happened on October 27, 1659?

William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, two Quakers who came from England in 1656 to escape religious persecution, are executed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony for their religious beliefs. The two had violated a law passed by the Massachusetts General Court the year before, banning Quakers from the colony under penalty of death. (From www.history.com)

Do you know the Quakers?

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, began at the tail end of Europe’s Protestant Reformation in the 17th century. The missionary efforts of the earliest Friends took them to North America, where they became heavily involved in Pennsylvania politics before reversing their views on government participation in the mid-1750s. The Society became the first organization in history to ban slaveholding, and in the 1800s Quakers populated the abolitionist movement in numbers far exceeding their proportion of all Americans. (From www.history.com)

Remember what I said about my state of mind over the last day or two, and know that I acknowledge that comparing these recent events to Quaker history might be taking all of this too far. No one is talking about killing anyone. To which, some of you reading this may say, “at least not yet.” Seriously, some people will think this is where it is going. Of course, others will say they already feel like they are being killed.

We are unable to live out our beliefs and are even being denied our rights. Which side says these things? Both.

Here is where I think this post gets tricky – or at least I hope that is the case. Go back and reread what happened to the two Quakers. This time picture yourself on the other side. Go ahead. Try it.

Did anyone really take the position first where you saw yourself as the persecutor? No. I did not think so. If you feel as though you have been persecuted, try asking yourself in what ways you have been the one persecuting.

We are living in a time where there seems to “always” be two sides – only two. When one side does not agree with our view, we on the “other side” do not like them. They quickly become the group against us. Well, let us remind ourselves, we quickly also become the group against them.

I hope and pray we do not see anything like the persecution experienced in this country long ago. A part of me says we are not anywhere close to that, while another part of me says it is not as big of a step as we think.

Blessings,

Pastor Matt

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