The Old Testament lesson from the lectionary this week is Habakkuk 1:1-4 and 2:1-4. Apart from having the most fun-sounding name among the minor prophets, Habakkuk’s oracle is my favorite. Here are the opening lines:
1:1 The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.
1:2 O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
1:3 Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
1:4 So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous– therefore judgment comes forth perverted.
The prophet is confused. He knows who YHWH is. Just. Merciful. Righteous. But he sees all of this nonsense going on around him.
In an interview published this week, Jonathan Merritt talks with popular Christian author Jen Hatmaker. In response to Merritt’s question about her stance on gay marriage, Jen offers the following, brilliant remarks.
From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends.
From a spiritual perspective, since gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, our communities have plenty of gay couples who, just like the rest of us, need marriage support and parenting help and Christian community. They are either going to find those resources in the church or they are not.
Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family. We have to do better.
The backlash was immediate. Lifeway has pulled her books. Conservative bloggers have criticized her, some pretty harshly. New lines have been drawn and new stones have been cast. But when I visited Jen’s blog I did not see a battle camp. She was not rallying her followers to lead an assault on the conservative evangelical community.
What is she doing? As you can see here, she is raising awareness and support for the amazing Ethiopian women of Wolaita Sodo who have started their own businesses this year. Praise God!
See, like the prophet Habakkuk, we can get caught up in our perceptions of how things should be happening, or what should be right and wrong. Later on in the story, Habakkuk finally gets an answer, and YHWH is there to tell him that we are going in a new direction. The folks Habakkuk thought were the evil, no-good bad guys were actually agents of change for YHWH (other interpretive issues aside, that is.)
We are all struggling with this. Each side of the issue. Conservatives and liberals. We have trapped ourselves in a dualistic mindset about this issue and almost every other one as well. The answer isn’t somewhere in the middle. The answer is in a new way of thinking that releases us from this trap and allows God to redeem our conversations, our communities our cultures and all of creation.
The end of Habakkuk, to jump even further ahead in the calendar of readings, shows the prophet’s remarkable transformation. Though everything seems to be going against what he thought was true, he will still follow and worship YHWH.
Habakkuk’s affirmation can be our way forward in this conversation. Jen is showing us what following Jesus looks like. She continues to be faithful to what God has put in front of her to do. Can we follow her example as she follows Christ’s?