This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations I serve.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fair and Balanced?

When I was in Boston in the mid-1980's we had a presbytery meeting in which the relevant committee made a presentation concerning the wars then ravaging Central America. Their presentation was sharply critical of U.S. policy, which at that time was supporting brutal dictators and death squads. After this talk someone at the meeting stood up and complained that the presbytery was not being even-handed or balanced. They pointed out that only one “side” of this matter was presented, and that we had heard nothing from the other point of view.
My question at that point was whether we were really supposed to invite a representative of the contras to address us and give us this other side. Is the church required to give equal time to murderers, terrorists, torturers, and other purveyors of wanton violence? Are we even supposed to hear from the U.S. government so they can explain their policies?
This question continues to emerge when the church is thought to be one-sided in its approach to social and political issues. The church takes a stand. But then those who disagree with that stand complain that the other side was not heard or addressed.
My question is: What other side? Since when is the church supposed to be even-handed and balanced? Did Jesus exhibit this kind of balance? Of course not. Do the prophets allow equal time for those who favor idolatry and injustice? No.
If a group is invited to speak to Christians about climate change, are we somehow also bound to hear as well from the “dominionist” perspective, or to engage someone paid by Exxon to give us their propaganda? If Christians express concern about a particular oppressed group and seek to assist them, are we supposed to hear from their tormentors as well? Are we to allow someone to suggest that there perhaps some good reason for the violence being done to people? Are we even to support “Christians” in any acts of violence against others? Or Protestants against Catholics? Is there any conceivable oppressed and abused group of people whom we do not stand with in solidarity and support, in Jesus’ name, no matter who is doing violence to them?
Jesus did not care about labels or even one’s past life. He healed and saved people because of their pain and disease, period. It didn’t matter to Jesus whether one was a Roman Centurion, a tax collector, a prostitute, a Pharisee, a Jew, a Samaritan, a Syrophoenecian, or any other category of person. He healed them just the same on the basis of their suffering.
He did not listen to the other side. He did not listen to any voices that might have suggested that this or that suffering person deserved it, brought it on themselves, or wasn’t really suffering. He certainly never suggested that a person deserved to suffer because the person afflicting them had himself suffered grievous harm in the past.
Neither should we. God and Jesus are not fair and balanced. They are wildly biased towards the afflicted. No matter who they are or who is afflicting them.

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