Thursday, January 13, 2011

Talk About Being Hard-Nosed

We were chatting about various issues, don't ask don't tell, the nature of relationships, and of course, politics, and how he imagined I might feel about them.

"I kind of expected, you being a man of the cloth and all, you'd think differently," he said.

"I'm sorry, but what does being a minister have to do with it?"

"Well, you know, the Bible says certain things just aren't right and I figured you being a minister, you knew the Bible better than most, and therefore you'd be pretty hard-nosed about those things."

He'd made a reasonable assumption, I just didn't happen to share it. To explain why, I told him the following story.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who had been caught, I assume by her husband, with another man. At this particular time in history, it was common practice to drag the woman out into the street, humiliate and then stone her to death. No one asked whether she had been abused or neglected and no one offered to represent her in court. As a matter of fact, there was no court except public opinion and in that one, she was guilty as charged.

Things were looking bad for the woman when Jesus happened by. The townspeople told him what was taking place and asked his opinion. He thought about it a minute or two and said, "Anybody who's never done anything they're ashamed of can throw the first stone." One by one, the people walked away. Then he said to the woman, "Looks like nobody's left to accuse you and neither do I. From now on, though, try not to get yourself into another situation like this."

"Yeah, but I'm talking about stuff that's unnatural," he said, "men and men, women and women. You got to be either for or against that."

"I don't have to be one way or the other on anything," I said, "because the One I work for wasn't. He dispensed with passing judgment except on those who thought they had a right to judge others. That didn't sit well with him. If he was here right now, you know what I think he'd tell us? Stop worrying about what other people do, whether it's right or wrong, natural or unnatural, and start being compassionate because some day you may need it as much as anyone else. And if you don't show it, you have no right to expect it."

Talk about being hard-nosed.

(Creative Commons image entitled "Hard-nosed" by Peter Giger via Flickr)

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