by Nancy Hastings Sehested
It was the last night of Vacation Bible School at the Sweet Fellowship Baptist Church. All week our five year olds rehearsed the story of Pharaoh and Moses to dramatize for their parents. All four boys wanted to be mean ‘ole Pharaoh.
With the church pews filled with family, the performance commenced. Our wee Pharaoh sat on his throne holding his plastic sword. Then little Moses walked up to him with his shepherd’s crook and said, “Pharaoh, stop hurting my people. Let my people go.”
Our Pharaoh wielded his sword in the air and said, “Never, never, never!”
Moses walked away and then returned with the same words. “Pharaoh, stop hurting my people. Let my people go!”
Pharaoh said nothing. I thought he’d forgotten his lines. I scooted toward him and whispered, “Say ‘Never, Never, Never’.”
Nothing. Then our little Pharaoh jumped down from his throne, threw down his sword and said, “I’m tired of being mean. I don’t want to be mean anymore!”
Imagine meanness in the world ending due to fatigue.
It seems that we are simply not tired enough. But surely we are close to exhaustion sorting out who needs our meanness now. Just flipping through the Bible to find which people to hate is draining. These days it’s hard to find a Midianite to kill. Stoning incorrigible teenagers to death in the town square could leave few maturing into adulthood. Abominating people who are “sowers of discord” or have “haughty eyes” could unleash a bloodbath in our churches.
Aren’t we worn out yet from using the Bible as a bully stick for meanness?
The "Nashville Statement" is a clear indication that some religious Pharaohs are not tired of wielding their sword of hatred. But the rest of us are tired of one more abusive word against gay, lesbian and transgendered people in the name of religion. Who’s next? Women ministers? Oh, wait. That’s a mean streak that started decades ago. (The 30th anniversary of my expulsion from the Southern Baptist Convention comes in October. My, how the time flies when you're having fun.)
Signers of the statement, here is a word to you: Don’t you have something better to do? Feed the hungry? Visit the prisoners? Shelter the homeless from the hurricane? Give the thirsty some clean drinking water? Stop mad men from starting a nuclear war? If you are afraid of the world changing too fast or becoming too complex for you, then say, “I’m afraid.” Then be assured that God is with you in this changing world. But don’t use your own selective Bible verses to hurt beloved people of God. We’re tired of your meanness. God is too.
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P.S. For a more detailed bit of satire along these lines, I commend for your reading “Dear Dr. Laura, Why Can’t I Own Canadians As Slaves?” an open letter to Dr. Laura Schlessinger (a once-popular radio talk show host infamous for her "abomination" comments on same-sex relations), by James M. Kauffman.
Rev. Nancy Hastings Sehested
Co-Pastor, Circle of Mercy Congregation
August 31, 2017