“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it,” is a profound statement that was made by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I love the message that resonates from this statement. Sometimes we, as humans, lament over periods that seem unexciting, unrewarding, or uncomfortable. I am learning that those times could potentially be the times that offer the most unique opportunity for personal growth.
Today is the day that Americans, and other cultures honor mothers, mentors, and surrogates. Happy Mother’s Day to anyone who has accepted a call in the middle of the night, from a person who felt motherless at that moment. I believe we have evolved in our thinking, and recognize motherhood as more than the act of delivering or legally adopting a child. I have high regard for the aunts and best friends who have accepted the responsibility of assisting their siblings and best girlfriends with the motherly load. I would be less than thoughtful, if I did not recognize that today is a special day. Many of us have celebrated cancer survivors this weekend. I love the way the Mother’s day weekend has become a time of celebration. I am partial to the color pink, as a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I am partial to women, but not to the exclusion of men, as my career has been one of service to my gender.
I have completed the commercials as any thorough speaker would, so I can move swiftly to the purpose of this article. This week has been a monumental week in American history. President Barack Obama announced his support of gay Americans having the opportunity to marry. Since then, my telephone has not ceased ringing. I thought, “I am not a politician, so why am I being called for an opinion?” I sometimes forget about my background as a Southern bred child, who transplanted herself to the North without knowing a single person. I forget about being reared in a strict Church of Christ household. My father was an English teacher and fire and brimstone minister. I attended a historically black, Christian college with some uniform views about everyone’s rightful position in the Kingdom of God. Although my current world is very supportive of women and those who think differently than I, I am still closely associated with people whose thinking is consistent with their thinking thirty years prior.
As a highly opinionated professor and researcher, I fully understand why people called me this week. “Is there any word from the Lord?”, if I may quote the Biblical Scripture from Jeremiah 37:17. Certainly, there is a word from the Lord. The questions manifest regarding how one interprets words from the Lord. Here is my Biblical position. In Mark 12:17, Jesus’ words can be summarized as, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” This once Scripture is a clear call for a separation of church and state.
Earlier this week, my minster friends began to email and fax copies of sermons for today, letters they planned to send to the White House, and numerous other position papers. I love my preacher friends because I love a great debate session, but the Democratic preachers are reacting more vehemently that members of the Grand Old Party. I sympathize with those who are passionate about particular subjects, but my position on this issue grace and mercy. The principles of grace, mercy, and forgiveness are pillars of the Christian faith. The woman at the well stood alone with Jesus as her accusers had to ‘keep it moving’, as the young folks would say. Since they were not free if faults, they ceased to wield their stones.
I am not willing to summarize President Obama’s entire presidency based upon this single moment. The Republican candidate, Governor Romney has clearly stated that he has little interest in the plight of the poor. Most of my clients are not of privilege, and are technically the working poor. Many of my medical students will be first generation professionals and the tenants who rent apartments are one parental paycheck or student loan refund away from breaking a lease. I serve the poor and extract great rewards from doing so. I chair a leadership and diversity committee, so I have had to hone my listening skills. I am a work in progress, but I know the stories of people with struggles that do not mirror my own struggles.
I asked one of my minister friends to relax his position, and not speak such an inflammatory sermon today. As one of his confidantes, I know how his position has evolved since we lived in the dorms. I requested that he back down from his dogmatic position because everyone is a journalist in today’s world. I do not want to see this personal friend attacked for speaking in contrast to previous stances. No matter which analogy I used, he would not re-write his sermon. He assured me that he would not back down and expected me to defend him if attacks came his way. Real friends address complicated topics with you. I pray at 5 AM with my best girlfriend almost every day. Sometimes, she has to say, “Do I know you? You are changing.” I then say, “Well, I hope so.”
In my years of marriage, I can honestly say that gay people getting married did not affect my marriage. Jokingly, this document is not long enough for me to share the things that caused me to have serious chats with my spouse. Did he put the lid on the toothpaste… Thankfully, the scientists at Crest devised a cap that would not separate from the tube! I am a great fighter, but I am sitting out on this battle. I am glad some of these people were not around when my ancestors desired emancipation and women desired to vote. My associates work tirelessly to battle the public health epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. Most of them see gay marriage as a way to promote monogamy and decrease the incidence of STD’s. This is a heated debate and will probably continue in this fashion. Many of my academic associates are agnostic, but we relate to each other well. I do not bash them and they sit quietly while I thank the Lord for my lunch. I catch a couple of them saying that we will be blessed and I smile. I suppose I have affected them in that way.
Is your position evolving on gay marriage or are you philosophically beating people in the head? If there is truly a separation of church and state, why are preachers framing sermons around their political preferences? However you stand on the gay marriage issue, you have that right as an American. Be careful about inviting the government into your bedroom. It WILL backfire on this brave and free land we are so proud of. On a spiritual note, I hope you can find something useful statement in your minister’s sermon today. Preachers, keep on preaching about the love of Jesus. It is okay to be resolute about an issue. I pray that you administer your position in a way that is flattering to you. Remember that their will be a time for you to re-visit your words. I hope you can receive them as you have distributed them. Happy Mother’s Day!
Professor Danna McKellar