Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sound bites in politics and religion

There's a radio program on religion and politics which comes on at night. I've never listened to it. I do not even know the day or time, but it's the voices which play at the start of the show which I have heard. They are the voices of young and old, men and women and boys and girls. They all parrot similar phrases at the start of the show: "I don't discuss politics and religion." These represent what is for many people their total contribution in the arena of politics and religion.

Politics and religion seem to have a magnetic attraction for sound bites. These are one-word or one-liner messages, such as, I don't discuss politics and religion. There's nothing inherently wrong with one-word and one-liner messages. It’s just that too often these reveal either an unwillingness or inability to express in an understandable manner anything more than sound bites especially when the topic demands an explanation. Whether they involve a cause or one's personal life they are not new. They are tossed like chips at the discussion table. They require neither (much) thought nor explanation; kind of like a shout and run from across the fence. Here are two examples on the use of sound bites.

Two sides of the fence

You can’t shout out a sound bite with a full mouth. I am referring to the recent show of support and the contributions by some Americans on behalf of Chick-Fil-A and its CEO Dan Cathy on biblical marriage and stand against homosexuality. The dining out demonstration with the buzz of sound bites (even if muffled) made me realize something about the two sides of the fence.

First, the necessity on one side of the fene to describe marriage under a one-word sound bite: gay. Gay is not just the shout and rally cry for all things political or religious. It's been the defining term for over thirty years. This pride term is the first and last word. Even the absence of the term gay/homosexual in the scriptures is a cause for joy. This alleged absence relies on some seriously mistaken claims Jesus did not say one word about or against homosexuality. The reason it is mistaken is because 1) Jesus did speak on marriage as between a man and a woman as it was in the beginning, and 2) what the apostle Paul wrote on homosexuality was in context of a list of sins by which, he said, those who practice those things will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Paul, and all of the apostles of Jesus, did not speak on their own authority, but by the authority of the Holy Spirit. This evasive reasoning is as juvenile as that of a child who's instructed to play in the front lawn, but replies to his parents, you didn't say I couldn't play in the street. Whether in politics or religion there is every reason to hope that no one THINKS or SAYS anything about, for or against marriage of a moral, political or religious nature. Just say the word the word and be _ gay.

Second, the other side of that fence where I find my brothers and sisters in the faith that is in Christ Jesus is similarly equipped with one word: love. Granted there's not much dialog at a dining out demonstration it does not preclude the need for understanding and discussion of weighty matters. Did anyone thing to invite their gay coworker for some chicken? Lets take a closer look at the earlier mentioned example on the claim that Jesus did not say a single word about or against homosexuality. How could anyone understand what Jesus said and learn anything from mere a one-word yes/no or true/false responses?

The substance of two sound bites: love and hate

Jesus had a way of evoking awe. He did so not with one-word nor one-liner sound bites. He enlightened all who would even think to follow him as to the cost they were to count before making such a claim or decision. He boldly and confidently drew a focus from two different perspectives with a single purpose of creating understanding of love and hate. Matthew's gospel account focuses on love. Luke's gospel account focuses on hate.

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:37-39
If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t disregard or hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27

These words are a contrast between love and hate much like apples and oranges. Both are fruits, but they are unmistakably different fruits. Similarly, anyone who loves parents, children and siblings and comes to Jesus does so in love. However, that love between family and Jesus is as different as apples and oranges. They are unmistakably different.

Someone might say they are orphans, without offspring or siblings. They mistakenly believe they can count the cost of following Jesus without any great sacrifice. They might think, they have none of these human relationships to stand between them and their decision to follow Jesus. But, the call of Jesus to anyone who would profess to follow him did not stop short like a one-word or one-liner sound bite. He impressed and challenged would-be believers to hate all things and love him. No wonder that he included this disregard: yes, and his own LIFE also. It is a simple, but troublesome reality to understand how one who is not worthy can not be a disciple because he is not prepared to accept these words spoken by Jesus.


The one-word, one-liner sound bites by gays as their politics and religion seem plain enough. The National Same-Sex Kiss Day (talk about one-liners) display to show the country Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) love is as valid as heterosexual love is like others trying to demonstrate their politics and religion with a mouth full. Even the flippant glibness with which such a same-sex kiss day is declared and presumed to be of national import seems a grasp for an absent political/religous authority. The reason a kiss-in, like dining-out, is a feeble grasp is that it reflects an inability to speak with understanding or conviction what one professes. There is no awe in these things.

No one comes to Jesus as long as they value their own identity above all. Does a man come to Jesus proudly declaring and boastfully identifying himself as with a one-liner slogan: “husband of one wife”? Yet, this is the one-liner boasful pride of gays when they profess foremost their identity as, “gay and proud of it.”

There is no more to fear or to hate in shallow charges of being homophobic and hateful anymore than for gays to fear or hate the words and teachings of Jesus or his disciples who profess and teach those words. Anyone who after hearing and understanding, not sound bites, but the words of Jesus and is awestruck determines whether or not they will count the cost and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.