Why This Pastor is on her Way to the Supreme Court Steps

This week I could refine my Easter messages. Or my Maundy Thursday or Good Friday service. I could surely sign more petitions about gun control or work harder on getting a date with Senator Schumer – my senator who spends more time dealing with the gang of 8 than he does in meeting with immigrants. I could also take a good look at the daffodils that are emerging, even in a winter-weary New York. Instead, I am joining a group on the steps of the Supreme Court to show a religious presence AGAINST the Defense of Marriage Act.

Why this priority?

First of all the government doesn’t need to defend marriage. Marriage needs to defend itself – as the last best move against consumerism. In marriage we stop shopping. We stick to and are stuck with one person. It is a covenant, not a contract, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in trouble. And marriage is in trouble. The divorce rate, anyone? Marriage is breaking from within, not from without. Restricting it to “one man and one woman” is neither the government’s business nor any kind of defense of the sacred beauty of the marriage covenant.

There are other reasons I am going. They are more pragmatic. If the punishmentalists win this issue, they will think of themselves in the ascendancy on hate and fear. I need to stop that hate and fear from doing any more damage to any more people – immigrants, school children in Connecticut, gay people considered evil, and women who can’t get reproductive rights. I am also going because I don't want the Westborough Baptist Church to be the only ones calling themselves Christians on the steps. (Fancy secular activists call what I mean “intersectionality” of issues, the way marriage equality and immigration and gun control are all connected by a fear-based mean spiritedness, backed up by the “religious right,” which is so often so wrong.)

I am going to D.C. because at my core I hate the lies told about Jesus. I hate the distortion of Jesus into a sentimental, punishmentalist one-source-fits-all kind of God, the kind of God that shows up with a hammer and not a heart. I hate the Jesus that is captured by being against things, like families other than those started by the one man/one woman imperialism.

Jesus has been the victim of identity theft. Note that my first paragraph was all about hate. I hate this one and that one the way they hate others. The Jesus rhythm is the precise opposite of hating this one because they hated others. I am also involved with the identity theft. The Jesus part is the golden part, where we are to love others the way we want to be loved. This Jesus business is not for sissies.

What is spectacular about Jesus is that he authored the matter we call non-violence. If I understand him, I can’t even vilify villains. I can’t even hate my enemies. With Jesus, I have to refuse to have an enemy. So when my blood boils because people say immigrants take away from the economy – when in fact they are economic engines – I have to hear them out, perhaps even recognize what pain caused them to distort truth. When my blood boils at people talking about someone buying potato chips with food stamps in the checkout line, I have to wonder what makes them so afraid of potato chips or pleasure or the poor.

When I want to throw the book at the men who raped and murdered and threw Jyoti Singh Pander out of the bus, when I say I want there to be consequences for these people and that I am not sure death is sufficient or painful enough, I have to remember what Jesus would have said. He would have pushed me beyond my own anger into its source, the place of love. He would have said you can be fierce and you can be furious and you also must be fierce, furious and constructive. You can’t have the hiding place of hate for your anger. It needs to melt into love.

When someone beats a young man for walking through the park at night because they think he is gay, I want to vilify the hater. I want to take him (it’s always a him) to the cleaners. Not to mention Republicans. The Republicans are the ones who truly need a “path to citizenship.” And I am the one, who is going to Washington, to stand on the Supreme Court steps and see if I can witness to love.

I want to stop the identity theft of Jesus, not contribute to it. I hope you will help me.

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