But what if we altered our perception so that the threat of them now was instead included as part of our us-ness? Then the conflict wouldn't be us-versus-them, it would become an internal matter, it may no longer be categorized as a conflict at all.
Christ redefines the us-ness-es. But it is not easy to reorient our own ways of dividing up classes along the new lines of his Kingdom.
Last summer ('13) we were in St. Louis for my nephew's baptism. The pastor at Grace and Peace is Kurt Lutjens. At the beginning of the service Pastor Lutjens made some interesting comments about the recent Supreme Court decision about marriage. He lamented the way marriage policy was going, particularly in reference to homosexual marriage. But the way he expressed himself on the subject is what caught my attention. His remarks were not made out of us vs. them fear, but out of love.
He talked about how these decisions and the way in which we, as a culture, talk and act about marriage and sexuality create an ever increasing burden for our brothers and sisters who struggle with same sex attraction. The world's message that all sex is okay, that it is our right, and that resistance and intolerance is morally wrong only increases the temptations of our struggling brothers and sisters and reduces the volume of the scant fews voices of encouragement these fellow Christians have in their lives. He was speaking with our struggling brothers and sisters as belonging to his us-ness.
I was impressed with the genuine and natural way in which Pastor Lutjens spoke about the difficulties of our hurting brothers and sisters. I could only conclude that the reason love flowed so naturally from this man was that he must know and love people who struggle with this temptation. When all we know of those who struggle with same sex attraction are the extremes of culture and politics then it sort of makes sense that we'd respond out of fear. It is easy for a middle class heterosexual Christian to see and respond to these kinds of things with fear. We take a stand against these things because we see it affecting our future, how it impedes on the structures we built up to keep our lives safe and manageable, how it tips the political balances against the side we fight on. We see public and political rulings as hurting us, but we don't know who us is. But when we get to know the struggles of even just one of the thousands of fellow Christians struggling against same sex attraction then we see the conflict in a new light. A fuller light. It is a conflict presently more tragic because it is now part of our us-ness. It is not safe. But because of Love, it is also more hopeful than any political victory.
"There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment. Wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of almighty God. Not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer