Reformation Day

Yesterday was Halloween, but it was also Reformation Day, recognizing church reformer Martin Luther nailing his ‘rant’ on a church door long before Facebook (as seen on United Me
thodist Memes Facebook Page click here )

His bold move set in motion the reformation of the church that continues until Christ returns: Ecclesia reformata-semper reformanda (the church reformed, always reforming.) When Luther spoke out against a church that was falling into corruption and ceasing to be the Bride she was intended, he risked a lot! History records that when brought before the church authorities and faced with excommunication he was asked to recant but he refused saying; “I stand convicted (convinced) by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God’s word. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us. On this I take my stand, I can do no other. God help me.”

As a United Methodist pastor I have been very careful not to abuse the power of my pulpit to influence people’s vote. And so I have not spoken when I should have. It is exactly one week before Election Day in an election year like no other (and not in a good way!) Maybe it is too late, but I cannot be silent any longer. On this I take my stand, I can do no other. God help me.    

Our country is need of some reformation—there is no doubt. But I believe we are grasping at straw men.  It is one thing to want change, but we should be appalled and ashamed that our country could be in danger of electing a man like Donald Trump to the presidency. Yes, we need to reform a system of career politicians clogging up the wheels of democracy and progress. But a ‘reality TV personality’ who leaves failed businesses and devastated people in his wake like litter thrown belligerently from a stretch limo? He has cheated workers and vendors out of their due.  He rails against China and Mexico and yet outsources his business there.  He has failed to pay taxes; effortlessly sailing through loopholes citing the very failures and losses he has sustained as a ‘great businessman.’ He is a bully who incites violence and disrespect against anyone who disagrees with him.  He is a bigot and a racist. He has publicly insulted the disabled and veterans who had the lack of sense to be captured as POW’s or suffer PTSD. His attitude toward women ranges from sexist to sexual predator.  He can’t seem to tell the difference between truth and fiction and acts like a petulant toddler when pressed to clarify his actual position on anything. But my real shock comes from the Christians who continually and illogically claim him as a ‘savior’ despite the disgusting way he conducts himself in every arena. This man is the antithesis of Christian character and trying to dress him up as the Christian answer to all our problems is delusional at best and idolatrous at worst.

And since I know that the argument will be to jump right to Hillary Clinton’s faults, I would say this: However we have wound up here, sometimes it comes down to choosing the lesser of two evils. (There is also the alternative of voting third party and I certainly hope 2020 will see a more diverse political landscape.)

The ‘religious right’ has two major issues that I see:

#1 Hillary is untrustworthy and

#2 Abortion is the cornerstone of everything.

Regarding #1, see the paragraph above outlining everything untrustworthy about Trump.  And before you can say, “Benghazi” I would say that Clinton as Secretary of State (along with many others in the State Department and other agencies) made a call about an international security issue that ended tragically.  That is the horrible truth about holding a powerful office and being responsible for the lives of others. I literally shudder to think of decisions that Donald Trump might make in a position of power.  Regarding her emails; it was a mistake in judgment to be sure, but not some evil plot. Clinton has admitted as much and the FBI investigation has proved no wrongdoing (not for lack of trying.)

Regarding #2; I am not a proponent of abortion. I absolutely believe that we are ‘knit together in our mother’s wombs’ and are’ fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:13-14) and that abortion is a life and death decision. By the grace of God, I have never had to be in the position to make that choice; but I easily could have been. I mean really; when I was younger I lived a life that was not in keeping with scripture. There are people I love who have had abortions and I do not condemn them. I support their right to make that choice with their doctor without the government being involved.  (Another question I have is how someone can refuse to believe the government has a right to regulate their insurance so that everyone has healthcare and yet want the government being able to make that decision for a woman.)  And if you are getting ready to condemn me for not being Christian enough because I support killing unborn babies, I would ask you if support the 2nd Amendment and the military and the police and to suggest that, you are okay with killing also. Every soldiers’ weapon and every police officers’ bullet that takes a life is taking the life of someone’s baby. Is it killing? Yes.  Is it murder? No (in most cases) because we understand the Commandment to be against ‘murder.’ You see, to the same people that have decried the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement by countering with ‘All Lives Matter’ I would say the same: All Lives Matter! The loss of life of an unborn child is no less and no more tragic than the loss of life at the hands of a soldier or a police officer or someone protecting their home. God weeps over the loss of all lives.

If you want to help stop abortions, there are many ways that will be more effective than making it illegal. And remember, many of you hold the argument against gun control by saying that ‘if you make it a crime to own guns, only criminals will own guns!’ If you make it a crime to have an abortion, your mothers, daughters, nieces, wives and friends will be criminals. I guess that’s okay, Donald Trump thinks they should be ‘punished.’ I wonder what he has in mind, don’t you?

There are pregnancy centers all over the United States that seek to help women make a choice for life. They need your time, your dollars and your presence. If you don’t have one near you, go here  and donate* (*Women’s Pregnancy Center of Ocala where 95% of clients who had an ultrasound at WPC chose LIFE for their babies, including 44 women who once considered abortion to be their only option!)

Young women who are making that decision need solid Christian mentors to love them and support them, even after the birth (maybe especially after the birth.) I see some of the fervor of the ‘pro-life’ movement being more ‘pro birth’ but wanting no part in seeing the structures in place for education, assistance and protection once the baby is out of the womb. Don’t just be pro-birth REALLY be PRO LIFE!

So, I am a day late in writing this for Reformation Day but I actually wanted to write it on October 11th which is National Coming Out Day. I wanted to say I’m coming out-not as LGBT but to come out as a BHL (Bleeding Heart Liberal.) God has been ‘reforming me’on this journey since my first experience in ministry in 1999. God is opening my heart (sometimes painfully) to begin to see others that I never saw as my neighbor. The neighbor whom I am supposed to love as I love myself and God. The immigrant, the homeless, the oppressed and underrepresented. And yes, that means that I am commanded to love even Donald Trump. But I don’t like him and I think he would be an awful choice for president. I am not ashamed to be a Bleeding Heart Liberal  because I know it is truly the heart of Christ that bleeds. For all of God’s children.

Please vote with your head and your heart (and the heart of Christ.)

Choosing Joy!
bleeding-heartsbleeding heart (lamprocapnos spectabilis)