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This week Ruth asked Lori and I how we dealt with it when a leader in our faith held a belief we simply couldn’t condone.  I knew this would be a difficult topic for me to address publicly.  After all, I like to think of myself as open-minded.  I certainly don’t want anyone to think of me as judgmental.

That said, some things are just deal breakers.  It isn’t so much that I expect to agree with everything the Pastor or even the Presbytery says.  After all, I disagree with my husband and my friends on any number of things, some of them deeply entrenched values.  Yet I still share a close, loving relationship with all of these people.

Yet there was one point in my faith journey that I didn’t believe a loving relationship was possible.  I simply had to take a different path.

When I was in high school, I went to church but I didn’t always go with my parents.  I visited other churches.  I attended temple.  I talked to various religious teachers and leaders.

One Sunday, I went to church with some kids from my highschool.

First we attended a Sunday school class unlike any I’d ever seen.  Adults of various ages and teens broke into mixed age groups and discussed the assigned readings.   What an awesome learning experience!

Next, we went to a class that was only highschool girls. I wasn’t surprised when the teacher started telling us about our upcoming roles as grown ups. After all, it’s the sort of thing that adults feel the need to tell teens ad nauseam.  Then the message went, in my opinion, to the Dark Side.  “It will be your job as wives and mothers to keep your family together.  Your husband might be an alcoholic.  He might beat you.  It does not matter.  Your job is to preserve the family unit no matter what he does.”

“It does not matter.”

I can still hear those words and they mattered very deeply to me.  Yet I might have been able to shrug them off if it had ended here.

In the service, we took Communion.  The Elements were passed around by a group of boys who were about 7 years-old.  My friend grasped my wrist.  “You can’t touch the trays.  You’re a girl.”

It did matter.

This wasn’t one person’s opinion.  It ran much deeper than that.

I kept my hands in my lap, and, when I left that place, I left for good. To find the close loving relationship I was after I had to look elsewhere.  I had to look up to God.  And I couldn’t do that if I was staring at my hands clasped in my lap.

I can handle not agreeing with someone as long as that person sees me as someone who is no better or worse than they are simply by an accident of birth.  They must see me as a fellow traveler on the journey.  Then we can travel side-by-side, debating over the course of many miles and lifting our faces and our prayerful voices to He Who Made Us.

–SueBE

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Have a Mary Little Christmas

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