Sanctity of what?

I'm struggling over here this morning. I'm struggling with so-called "Christian values." I'm struggling with the politicization of faith; with the way that faith and politics have allied themselves and abstracted morality from justice.

To my brothers and sisters for whom their greatest social/political causes are the protection of the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage; to those for whom abortion and homosexuality are perceived as two of the greatest threats facing our society:

How has your focus on abortion protected the sanctity of life for those nursing home residents in Carthage, North Carolina, who were killed at the hands of a brutal and senseless gunman? How has your focus on homosexuality has protected the sanctity of marriage, knowing that this gunman is believed to have opened fire at this nursing home because his estranged wife worked there?

It seems that there have been too many violent acts in the past months where innocent victims have been injured and killed in the wake of violence that ex-spouses have intended against their estranged significant others. I think of the man dressed as Santa Claus that opened fire at a Christmas party at his ex-in-laws' house, for example.

If we, as Christians, want to claim as our causes the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage, might we do well to widen our scope?

Perhaps instead of inciting fear that homosexuality will destroy marriage, we should be doing more to help couples before, during, and even after their marriages. We could be helping them through the rough parts, finding them more help and support, grieving more with people in broken relationships, doing more to prevent abuse and to protect people from it, looking for warning signs, and taking seriously the things in life that truly do destroy relationships.

And perhaps instead of believing that the only lives that are sacred are those of the unborn, we stand up to violence and work to make our societies safer. Perhaps we remember the sanctity of lives taken by violence, lives lost in war, lives lost due to substance abuse and to suicide, lives that we give over to capital punishment. God has created us all in his image and declared us good. No matter how far we stray from God's will, God does not consider us lost causes - God does not deem our lives worthless. What, then, gives us the right to deem others' lives worthless?

I'm angry today. I'm angry that people don't feel as angry as I do about the things that I read in the news. I'm angry that that the terms "sanctity of life" and "sanctity of marriage" have been co-opted by Christians with a narrow political agenda. I'm angry that there are people who will peg me as un-Christian or "just a crazy liberal" because I've written this post.

We are inching closer and closer to Good Friday and Easter, and I think that my anger might be a good thing right now. It reminds me that the cross itself is an outrage. Jesus' crucifixion is not a safe or comfortable story. It is a story of injustice and cruelty, torture and death, violence and indifference. But the precise reason for Jesus' death was to save us from all of those those things.

And on Easter morning, with the resurrection came the promise of new life, of renewed life, of redeemed life. The sunrise in the garden brings us the promise of new creation. It is my fervent hope that people of faith can see each sunrise as a new Easter, as another day's reminder that Christ's resurrection has begun the work of justice and reconciliation, and not the work of fear. It is my prayer, then, that we can remember our own redemption, and feel called to work for peace, justice, and hope in our wider world.


  1. Well said! We visited a church a few weeks ago and the minister preached about righteous anger. She shared her thoughts on God's anger about any of His children being harmed and reminded us that anger can be a tool for justice. This sermon came to mind as I read your thoughts about the harm created by limiting our scope of concern. A shift in focus could do so much good for our country!

  2. Gretchen B7:21 PM

    Amen sister.