I don’t follow Utah politics but I can tell you the name of their Lieutenant Governor, Spence Cox. I don’t know much about his political leanings but I was moved by a speech he gave at a vigil for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. He said that love has changed his heart. When he was young, he bullied those he now realizes were gay. But, those who identify as LGBTQ have taught him love and he now loves them back. He asked a question to his “straight friends.” When they heard the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 a.m., did their feelings of sadness and empathy diminish? If so, he said, we have more work to do in this country to learn to love one another. He raised the fact that with God, love is the law.
His question made me ponder my own heart. Do I weigh the value of life depending upon someone’s age, ethnicity, height, weight, religion or gender? If so, I have work to do to live up to the expectations in the Declaration of Independence and in Jesus’ command to love.
I grew up in Washington State during the time of the so-called Green River Killer, described as the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. In college, the lead investigator talked to us pre-law students about the investigation. We learned that the Green River Killer’s primary targets were female prostitutes. The investigator said there were two simple reasons for this – accessibility and anonymity. During a question and answer session, a student asked about the second reason for the targets. The investigator gave an answer that to this day makes the bile rise in the back of my throat. He said less weight is put on solving the murder of a prostitute so the serial killer was able to extinguish more lives with less chance of being caught.
Recently, bombings and killings have occurred in three sites in Saudi Arabia, the airport in Istanbul was bombed, new avalanches of attacks are happening in Pakistan, and bombings have killed people in Kabul and in Dhaka. I ask my own heart if it changes the weight of these deaths if they, or the intended targets, are Muslim?
Jesus identified himself with the outcasts, the vulnerable, and the unwanted. We are told that true religion is caring for orphans and widows – which are representations of the unwanted and discarded. (James 1:27) Our baptismal covenant asks, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself and will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” That is a weighty question; an honest answer can be difficult. Yet, love is the law from Christ. Without him, I’m unable to do it, but with God, all things are possible.
Lt. Gov. Cox concluded his speech to the Utah gay and lesbian community with this, “You know a little something about hate. And you know a little something about persecution. But you also know something about loving, blessing and doing good. What our country needs more than ever is less politics and more kindness. And so may we leave today with a resolve to be a little kinder. May we try to listen more and talk less. May we forgive someone that has wronged us. And perhaps, most importantly, try to love someone that is different from us.”