Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Edwards On the Campaign Trail II

Last night, Rev. Reggie Longcrier pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church asked Sen. John Edwards:
"Sen. Edwards has said that his opposition to gay marriage is influenced by his Southern Baptist background. Most Americans agree: it was wrong to use religion to justify slavery, segregation and deny women the right to vote. So, why is it still acceptable to use religion deny gay Americans their full and equal rights?"
This question came a few days after Edwards' wife told Salon.com that her husband's stance is rooted in his understanding of the Bible (see previous BibleBending Post). To his credit, Sen. Edwards responded by cutting to the crux of the question:
"I think Rev. Longcrier asks a very important question which is, fundamentally, whether it is right for any of our faith beliefs to be imposed on the American people when we are president of the United States. I do not believe that's right. I feel enormous personal conflict about this issue."
Rev. Longcrier, who was in the audience, had the chance to tell Edwards that he did not hear the response he would like.

So Edwards elucidated:
"I have been asked a personal question ... do I believe and do I personally support gay marriage? The honest answer to that is: I don't. But, I think it is absolutely wrong as president of the United States to use that as a basis for denying any one their rights. And I will not do that when I am president of the United States."
Lest it appears that I am discouraging straight-forwardness and begging for more platitudes: kudos to Edwards for his candidness. However, do I detect a little cognitive dissonance in Edwards' world view? He personally believes that gay persons should be (borrowing his phrase) denied one of their rights while believing that a president should never do so. Some body stop me! I want to refuse to give gay people their civil rights. Quick! give me the presidency!

Behold, the murky waters of a biblically-based world view. Squint and blink and try to figure out what the Bible says. Then soak it up and walk around bloated with biblical passages for a while in order to discern what the Bible means. But you're not done yet. Stand on your head and figure out what the Bible means to you personally. Will you be able to eat hot dogs? Accept a blood transfusion? Celebrate your birthday? Use condoms? Shave your beard? Own slaves? Hang out with menstruating women? Sleep in on Saturday or Sunday? Wear a mini skirt? Brush your teeth? Allow gay people to marry? After more "personal conflict," decide what the Bible would mean to you if you were president. By this time, if your Edwards, the presidency has made null and void the process that came before it.

No wonder politicians prefer to talk about "hope" and "change" and "strength."

1 comment:

Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

A very interesting post.

Squint and blink and try to figure out what the Bible says.

It's been done...for centuries.
I suppose John Edwards' biggest "fault" is admitting that, as a Christian, he's still trying to personally sort it out. Then again, that would be a "fault" of millions of us, wouldn't it?

He's also telling us that he wouldn't let that age-old struggle for meaning get in the way of others' civil rights.

I like the concept myself. Many Americans are morally conflicted on this issue. I'm pro-gay marriage, but I don't judge my faithful fellow Christians for their admitted journey toward understanding. I see a potentially political unpopularity in revealing your deepest thoughts on personal faith, but more importantly, I see honesty and a bit of moral courage in John Edwards telling the public what's in his heart.