Well, I just got back from a “Truthful Tuesday Rally” at the South Carolina Statehouse. Most of it, maybe all of it was the truth. Yes, Medicaid expansion would help poor people; better healthcare would help children in poverty do better in school; and I need to vote! No problem, I agree with all of that! Just don’t tell me how to vote. I may have an opinion about which party has a better record in helping the needy, but I know, as one speaker put it, that I “shouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid” of one particular party. Better yet, I won’t drink the Kool-Aid of either because no party has the corner on the truth.
I actually had a history teacher in high school named Daniel Webster! He told a story that I have never forgotten. It was about somebody trying to explain the difference between capitalism and communism. The person explaining said, “In capitalism, man exploits man; in communism it’s the other way around.” Pardon the sexist “man” language, but you get the point. It doesn’t matter which system or which party is in charge – there’s going to be exploitation! So there you have it. I am a political independent and proud of it.
Now, I do think that it matters in terms of truth if you follow Jesus who boldly claimed to be the way, TRUTH, and the life. From there I’m delighted to be a United Methodist. I uphold our polity and means of governance. I especially like the way we conference and are connected. We don’t always agree, and lately it seems we mostly disagree. We have become as polarized as government with ins and outs, my way, your way, or the highway. I couldn’t help but think about all of that today.
Mercy, I have tried to be as orthodox a Christian as can be but some of my friends think I’m too liberal, and others think I’m too conservative. I’ve thought about self-declaring that I am a moderate evangelical liberal, liberal evangelical moderate, or a liberal moderate evangelical, but someone would say “Aha! I knew it!” How about this for Truthful Tuesday – I believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and the Apostles’ Creed as something that is literal. Call me oxymoronic but I believe in the mystery of God while at the same time think it’s appropriate to celebrate Epiphany season. God is mystery but God has revealed Godself.
Oh, and don’t wait for me to declare which way I believe on human sexuality. I will not do you that pleasure so you can label me one way or the other, but you can take this to the bank: I believe our United Methodist Book of Discipline is right on the subject; my problem is that it doesn’t openly share an opinion about all human behaviors. If we’re waiting for the culture to influence the church to change, we have already abdicated.
Don’t dare pigeon-hole anyone, because nobody ever fits everything! If we’re being truthful, we all hold diverse opinions ad infinitum, sometimes within ourselves. Sure, I have some non-negotiables like the Trinity, the inspiration of Scripture, salvation through Christ alone, but hold on: which theory of the atonement do I like best? Gosh, will it be Christus Victor (most likely), or substitutionary, ransom, legal, moral influence? Frankly, it depends on the day, sometimes the hour, but what should matter most is who I’m talking to about Jesus. Which way of talking about what Jesus can and will do in their life is most appropriate. Which do they need to hear? So, to heck with fitting a checklist of some party or side. Life is too complex for that, isn’t it? Good gracious, one speaker today pointed at Strom Thurmond’s statue on the Statehouse grounds and said some pretty bad things about him. Get this; thanks to my Daddy’s grandmother Lucinda Sharpton who was half African-American and half American Indian, I can actually say “Cousin Strom” and “Cousin Al” at the same time. Edgefield County was my DNA’s melting pot and I know some good Republicans, gay people, straights, Democrats, and some bad ones of every ilk, too.
Last example: I absolutely love Sara Bareilles’ song Brave. I’ve been told that she wrote it about a gay friend being brave enough to come out. I’ve appreciated it because of my daughter Narcie’s bravery against cancer. You might like it for another reason. The point: Can’t we appreciate the song for being a song and the words meaning different things to different people? I hope so. This is America, the home of the free and the not-so-brave, so let’s pledge to speak the truth in love on Truthful Tuesday. Do listen to the song.