Creative Team Building and Leadership Resources - In our Elements

A Divided Body Politic

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Fellow Passengers: This week’s Promise Passage* (I Kings 3:16-28) transports me to the summer of 1946 in the cotton fields of Springfield, Alabama, where 6 year old Dewey Cox is going out to play with his brother Nate. Dewey says, Today’s gonna be the best day ever! and Nate responds, Yeah, ain’t nothin’ horrible gonna happen today! Famous last words, as the two boys decide to play machete fight, with real machetes, and Dewey proceeds to cut his brother Nate in half, right at the waist. Before dying, Nate tells his brother: Dewey, I’m cut in half pretty bad. In case I don’t make it, you’ll have to be double great for the both of us. That’s the opening scene to one of my favorite movies of all time, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. This spot-on parody of all the serious music bio-pics continues as the country doctor rushes to the house to tend to Nate, and gives the family the bad news: This was a particularly bad case of somebody being cut in half. I was not able to reattach the top half of his body to the bottom half of his body. Dewey goes on to stardom and music fame, in spite of a disability (he is smell-blind, the traumatic event having caused him to lose his sense of smell), haunted not only by what he did to his brother, but his father’s reaction, summed up in a recurring sentiment – The wrong kid died.

The wrong kid died. That was a sentiment of another parent, not in a comedic parody, but in a real life tragedy that came to the attention of newly inaugurated King Solomon. The King had just gotten out of his prayer closet, where he had fervently petitioned the Lord for one thing, wisdom. I can imagine him rising from that prayer, going to his throne, with all the optimism of young Dewey Cox – Today’s gonna be the best day ever! And then he gets his first opportunity to try out the answer to his prayer, his new found wisdom. Two women from a house of ill repute come to him, with one baby, and one of the women proceeds to tell a gruesome tale. Both of the women had given birth, and in the dark of night one of the babies died, and the distraught mother switched the dead baby with the living one. The next morning, the mother of the living baby realized what had happened, but the other woman denied the charges. The King needs to make a decision in the dispute, and execute justice. He calls for a sword, and it looks like we are about to witness a particularly bad case of someone being cut in half, for his solution is to divide the living baby, and give half to each of the mothers. The mother of the living baby cannot bear this, and pleads with the King to give the baby to the other woman, but the other woman shows her hand by going along with the King’s decree. The King in his wisdom has discovered the truth, and restores the baby to its rightful mother. At that moment something new is born, the concept of Solomonic wisdom, called upon and prayed for ever since that day, whenever there are competing claims over something of great value.

Our democracy has given birth to many hopes and dreams across the ages. There are times when one of those hopes sickens and dies – the hope for a segregated society, for example, born to the majority white population; it died, even though there are some who refuse to bury it. The hope for a Christian empire, defined by a narrow, fundamentalist view of Christianity, has also died for many. And like the distraught mother in Solomon’s day, those who find their dreams dying sometimes try and steal others’ dreams. The analogy is not perfect, but I wonder how many people were recently awakened to a new reality of a pluralistic society, only to say, If my idea of a Christian nation is dead and gone, then I’ll take the hope of marriage, and raise it as my own. No one else can have it. Such is the predicament we find ourselves in, as preachers continue to preach out against the opportunity of a minority population to have the civil rights and protections of marriage. Where is Solomon when you need him? ( I’d love to hear his take on marriage, given his experience!) I don’t think he would counsel putting civil rights and the protections of due process up for popular votes. Finding a resolution to such a predicament in our democracy will be an uphill battle, for sure, but I trust we will get there. To quote Dewey Cox, It ain’t easy to walk to the top of a mountain. It’s a long, hard, walk. But I will walk hard.

How about you? Where does this Promise Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment, and share with friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.



  • May 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

    My sense is that our loving God wants the same rights for all. God is no respecter of persons when it comes to marriage equality. Whether the marriage be between a homosexual or heterosexual couple, each deserves civil and human rights. Lincoln Chafee, the governor or RI, has signed an executive order that homosexual couples who are married out of state will have their marriage recognized in RI. The legislature, however, is dragging its feet on moving from civil unions to marriage equality. There is much pressure from the Catholic Bishop and other “right to life” groups. We need an Abraham Lincoln in the White House right now to free gay and lesbian people from the heavy burden that society has placed upon them. Again, the sin is not homosexual marriage but the harsh judgment thereof. People opposed to marriage equality need to remove the log from their eye in order to see the light and ask for forgiveness for their being judgmental of other human beings who, like them. are seeking the fullness of life.

    Comment by Janet Davies

  • May 16, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Well I believe you all will get your wish to see homosexuals have the opportunity to marry. As we continue to see the downgrade of Christianity and the enlightened group of the new “so called evangelicals” such as Campolo, Rob Bell, and Brian Mclaren as they have now redefined the terms of Christianity. The fundamentalists, I prefer Bible believers, who are considered judgmental and mean spirited are the ones who love these people enough to tell them the truth about their lifestyle and refuse to be deceived by people who want to rewrite scripture to fit their preferences. The apostate church will continue to grow in strength and number as we approach the last days but there will remain a remnant just as in the days of Elijah that won’t bow to baal or his hirelings. God is still in control and those who contend they are radically loving and kind will one day be seen as cruel for not telling people the truth about His holiness and righteousness. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus. In the meantime I will meditate on Isaiah 26:3

    Comment by jim munsey

  • May 21, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    After reading this post and the comments after,there is only one thing I can say and that’s Amen Jim,well said. Its sad when people try to twist the bible to try to justify sin,it just doesn’t work that way! The book of Romans and Lev. Are very clear!!!!

    Comment by tom riley

  • May 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Jim and Tom, I am glad you guys are reading the blog and responding. Even though we may differ on some theological perspectives and biblical interpretations, I’m sure there is much we have in common, including a strong belief in marriage. I’d love to hear you guys describe what makes your own marriages blessed and what you most appreciate about marriage. Give me your top ten list of why marriage is good for you. I’m sure we’d have many similar responses. It’s a good institution. Blessings on you both, and on your families.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • May 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Janet, you’re right, we need a wise leader to help reconcile our country. Blessings on the good work you’re doing to bring about reconciliation in RI.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

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