I have so many thoughts swirling in my mind and in my heart. Here are a few of the headlines that have stuck with me:
• Georgia Governor Signs ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Abortion Law
• “Hero” student killed trying to save classmates in Colorado school shooting was just days from graduation
• Number of children going to ER with suicidal thoughts, attempts doubles, study finds
• Rachel Held Evans, popular Christian writer, dies at 37
A classmate of mine from Iliff School of Theology posted this quote from Rachel Evans, who died this week. This quote is from her book “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”
If you are looking for verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to liberate or honor women, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them. If you are looking for an outdated, irrelevant ancient text, you will find it. If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it.
This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not what does it say? But what am I looking for? I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” If you want to do violence in this world, you will always find the weapons. If you want to heal, you will always find the balm.
I feel this passage speaks to my heart after another school shooting and learning that 43% of the increase in ER visits for anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts were in children ages 5-11 years old. What do these two things have to do with each other? I think everything.
“There are many scriptures that make it clear to me that God knew us and had a plan for us when we were still in our mother’s womb,” state Sen. Greg Kirk (R). “The word abortion is not going to be found in the Bible.” With the new fetal heartbeat abortion law, we can find support in scripture if we are looking for it. The same thing can be said of the United Methodist Church’s stance on sexuality. If you are looking for support in scriptures against same sex marriages and gay clergy, you will find it. If you are looking for evidence to support inclusion in the church, you will also find it. As Evans so well stated, we can find whatever it is we are looking for in the Bible. The better question is what are we looking for?
In my view, we are seeking to be to be right and to hold our version of the truth. It seems that more and more we have people with their heels dug in holding firm to their “truth.” The old saying goes, “would you rather be right, or be happy?” I think more often; we choose to be right.
I know that I don’t hold the truth about anything. I have my views on sexuality, abortion, gun violence, and other issues. Yet, this is just my version, MY truth but not THE truth. I don’t know God’s perspective or know what is best for someone else. We could get a lot farther on these issues if we stop trying so hard to be understood and spent more time seeking to understand. Could we try on someone else’s perspective without having to declare a right and wrong? Could we see less through the eyes of “or” and be more open to “and?”
It seems we are more divided than ever. A principle of spiritual psychology is, how you relate to the issue is the issue. The Bible doesn’t give us straight answers. Jesus did not give direct advise or spell out a list of dos and don’ts. That wasn’t the point, because it is not about being wrong or right, it is about how we show up in the conversation. The issue is not abortion, the issue is how are we relating to each other when we disagree. Are we coming to the table with love or fear? With an open heart or a full ego?
There isn’t an answer to these issues. But there is a way forward and that way is listening to each other, seeking to understand, stepping in someone else’s shoes. It is about finding ways to align. It is turning to God to direct our path, letting thy word be a lamp unto our feet.
I don’t think the answers we are looking for are in the Bible, they are in the Spirit of the scripture. What I mean by this is it is not what we can find in the Bible, but what can come to us when we are open. Are we seeking for weapons or balm? For me, I’m committed healing and seek the balm within the scriptures. If this is what I am seeking, surely I will find the balm.