In this final session, we’ll try to find common sense and unbiased ways to discuss fairness and equality. We’ll also learn ways to address dissension within the Christian church.
Monica was rarely found without a smile on her face because of the love she felt for her partner and their children. Nothing made her happier than the day she and Renata got married. She now felt that she and her family could come out of the shadows and become “normal, run-of-the-mill” people. However when she and her family moved to the affluent Richfield district, her positive outlook was replaced with anxiousness. Richfield was a predominately politically “right-leaning” area filled with beautiful new homes and the top-rated schools for the area. It was no secret that many of its residents moved there when the complexion of their previous neighborhoods began to grow darker. Being a woman of color, Monica could be pretty outspoken when it came to dealing with racism head-on, but when it came to defending her marriage and her children, she was admittedly more protective for their safety. Her wife assured her not to worry and that the move would be a great benefit for her and the kids.
While unpacking the contents of the final box for the kitchen, Monica noticed the face of a little girl peeking through the patio door.
“I see you looking into our home. Hello! What is your name?”
“Uh, I’m not supposed to be here,” answered the startled child.
“It’s ok. Which house do you live in?” Monica asked warmly.
Quickly she replied, “I’m not supposed to be here. I have to go.”
“Wait, do you want a cookie? I have an open package right here.”
“NO! Daddy says it is wrong. Everything you do is wrong.” And with that, the little girl ran back to her side of the fence.
At the corner grocery store located a couple of blocks of her home, Monica took her children shopping with her to get a few things for the upcoming week. At the checkout, her daughter wanted a pack of bubble gum and asked her mother’s permission. Monica agreed and told her to hand the pack to the cashier. The cashier, who had not greeted this family as she had done with the previous customers, refused to take the gum from the little girl. Monica asked if there was a problem, to which the cashier replied without looking at or acknowledging her question, “Your total is $52. 15.”
“Excuse me! I asked you a question!” Monica loudly replied. The manager arrived and asked what the problem was. “Your employee is very rude and ignored my little girl and …” Interrupting her, the manager replied, “If you and your ‘modern family’ do not care for the service you receive here, there are always other markets you can shop. In fact, that may be for the best.”
Stunned and humiliated, Monica left the groceries and left the store. It was one thing for a child’s ignorance of differences to impact Monica’s family, but it was quite another story for an adult to show blatant disdain for her children. When she got home, she shared with her wife the two incidents and how it made her and the children feel. Very warmly and lovingly, Renata reassured her not to worry and that these were isolated incidents.
Unfortunately, Renata was proven wrong. Not only did this family feel isolated that day, but also that week, that month, and even that year. Monica lost her smile.
Scripture – I Corinthians 12:21-26
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Reflection: The Human Cost of RFRA Laws
The impact of harmful Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) legislation is being felt in many states. Some may try to downplay what is happening by focusing on florists and photographers, but these refusals are causing injury to many individuals and their families. Families, like Monica’s, are made to feel hidden and insignificant. This is the human cost of promoting these laws and restrictions.
Yet there always seems to be someone who is injured in the “name of national security” or even in the “name of Jesus.” In other words, both the government and the church are esteemed in the eyes of people as having the authority to determine the value of its citizens and members. It is actually the leaders of these institutions who are granted the powers to be the arbitrators of “who is in” and “who is out” and who is a part of “We the People.” If the U.S. Constitution is the guide for those in government to keep their focus while governing, the Bible should be the guiding light for the Christian leader to understand how to care for the people. The passage from I Corinthians 12 provides direction on how to deal with members of a community who are labeled as “not acceptable.”
Questions: Discrimination and Dissension
- Have you or someone you know have faced public discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity as Monica and her family experienced?
- The passage from I Corinthians states that “there should no dissention in the body.” How should members in the Christian church deal with political or social dissention among its members in order to keep unity?