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Clocks, Flags and Marriage Licenses

September 18, 2015

Today my wife and I are celebrating our 44th wedding anniversary.  I’ve always been convinced that one clue to a long and happy marriage is for both parties to remain firmly convinced they got the better of the deal.

In any event, since it is such a beautiful day, one way we celebrated was to take a long morning walk in the nearby town park.  As we went out the door we noticed that we both happened to wear bright yellow shirts.  We joked about being a matched set and went walking.  Along the walk two middle-aged women laughingly commented on the shirts.  When we told them we had done if for our anniversary they congratulated us asked how long we had been married.  After we told them they said that they had been married for 3 years but had been together for 19 years.  I’ll share our response later in this post.

But first I wanted to mention Ahmed Mohamed’s clock.  You probably saw the news where this young Texas teen brought his homemade clock to school and ended up getting arrested and put in handcuffs.  Because he was a Muslim and it was the week of 9/11 several people, including the school principle, got into a panic that it might be a bomb.  The ensuing uproar drew responses (generally favorable to Ahmed) from thousands, including President Obama, and some red-faced reactions from the school.

Meanwhile, on our recent short vacation in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, we learned that flying the Confederate battle flag on the back of your pickup is pretty common.  We saw dozens of them flapping in the breeze as they drove down the street.  To be sure, this is a civic right and there is not, and probably should not, be a law against it, but we were surprised by the number of them.

And we also noticed this week that the marriage license controversy in Kentucky is still simmering with Kim Davis seeking  a way around her duties as County Clerk that will let her keep her job and not be the one issuing them.  The battle between her religious freedom and her governmental duties is not resolved.

The battles over clocks, flags and marriage licenses will probably go on for some time.  Our country is changing.  Same sex couples are out in the open and wanting equal treatment under the law.  Muslims have moved into our neighborhoods.  African Americans are telling whites that the symbol of your heritage is a message of hatred and intimidation to them.  You could probably throw in a story about Latinos too.  Our country is grappling with and adapting to a new cultural reality and it isn’t easy.  For some it isn’t something they want to do.  What is a Christian to do?

The key for me is the Golden Rule, a principle we all understand.  I should treat others as I would like them to treat me; I should not treat others in ways that I would not like to be treated.  While we sometimes turn this rule into a legalistic tit-for-tat it is really about empathy.  Am I able and willing to see how my words and actions impact others?   Or do my rights, my concerns, my views, and my anxiety need to come first?

Can I consider what I would feel like if I was put in handcuffs when I had done nothing wrong and act accordingly?  Could I put away the flag I have a right to fly because it offends someone else?  Could I wish for a long and happy marriage for someone with a different definition than mine?  If I am a follower of Jesus who, although he was God, did not demand his rights but humbled Himself to the point of death, how can I not set aside my rights when to claim them might wound another?  So, yes, we wished for those ladies to be as happy as we are on their 44th anniversary.

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From → Christianity

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