A Loving Dissent to the Southeastern District’s Resolution on Same-Sex Marriage

This week, the Southeastern District of the Church of the Brethren adopted the following resolution about same-sex marriage at their district conference:

We affirm that for the church scriptures provide the final authority for defining practices for followers of Christ and for His church. Timothy 3:16 states that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Therefore, it is our attempt as a body of Christian believers to follow the teachings and commandments in this holy book.  

In regards to marriage Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” And he went on to say in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Marriage is set forth as the bond between a man and a woman. Jesus re-affirms this scripture in Mark 10:6-8.

In the Old Testament in Leviticus 18:22 says “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. The New Testament in Romans 1 likewise speaks against such practices as does I Corinthians 6:9-11)

In addition, Annual Conference in 1983 stated that same sex covenants are not acceptable to the Church of the Brethren.

We therefore affirm that
1. All are invited and welcomed to come and worship the Lord.
2. Marriage is a God ordained covenant that should be entered into by one man and one woman.
3. The Southeastern District will not accept performance of same-sex covenants or marriages by its licensed or ordained ministers.
4. The Southeastern District will not accept the performance of those ceremonies on any property that is a part of the Southeastern District. 
5. In addition we will not support any materials or anyone promoting the acceptance of the practice of homosexuality as a lifestyle that is approved by God.

I am deeply saddened by the Southeastern Districts decision. On their website about District conference, the Southeastern District says this about their conference theme, which was “Walk in the Light:”

“It seems that we can follow Christ, the Light of the world, or stumble in the darkness. Let’s walk in the light and seek to reflect the light to others as we go.”

How sad that they’ve forgotten their own words about following Christ, and instead have stumbled into the darkness.

I hope the rest of us in the COB can reach out with love but also with firmness to the Southeastern District, to tell them that this is not acceptable and that hate is the real abomination. Of course, we must also acknowledge that the SE district’s statement is not outside of the Church of the Brethren’s own policy regarding human sexuality. While it is important to denounce the Southeastern District’s resolution, it is far more important to resist and change this policy within our entire denomination.

Still, it is my hope that by offering a loving dissent to the Southeastern District’s resolution, we can begin to resist the arguments used to wage spiritual violence on the LGBTQ+ people within our denomination. For my part, here is a biblical response to each point raised in the Southeastern resolution.

Point 1: “We affirm that for the church scriptures provide the final authority for defining practices for followers of Christ and for His church.”

That the Bible offers clarity on the issue of same-sex marriage is not true. It would be nice and convenient if it did, but it doesn’t. At least not explicitly. Instead, Biblical law is full of nuance and complication, buried under layers of different commandments enacted at different times that, when read holistically, would be impossible to follow entirely.

However, the Bible does provide some helpful summaries of what the law is trying to achieve. When it becomes impossible to know if we are in accordance with the law, we can at least look to these helpful verses, to see if we are in accordance with what the law is trying to accomplish. Here a few of those verses:

Micah 6:8 – “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Matthew 7:12 – “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law.”

Galatians 5:22-23 – “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

I’ve added emphasis to these verses to highlight why they can be helpful in understanding God’s law. While we can’t hope to be in accordance with every facet of the law, we can look to these verses to understand why the law exists and what the law is trying to accomplish.

It seems pretty obvious that the intent behind the law is to build a community of people who actively love one another. People should practice kindness and mercy, they should treat others as they would want to be treated themselves. They should pursue justice. They should be loving, patient, generous, and gentle. I don’t think any of these things apply to the Southeastern District’s resolution, nor any other attempt to inflict spiritual harm on LGBTQ+ people.

Point 2: “Marriage is set forth as the bond between a man and a woman.”

I think the scriptures referenced in Genesis reflect the biological reality that when the Bible was written, only men and women could reproduce. These scriptures never say that this arrangement is the only permissible arrangement.

The SE District’s whole argument for this point is reminiscent of the “Biblical marriage” argument, that “one man and one women” is the Biblical standard for marriage. I would point to the many examples, from Abraham to Jacob to Solomon, of men with multiple wives to assert that the notion of “biblical marriage” is an invention of 20th and 21st century thought, not an arrangement of marriage backed up by scripture.

Today, our culture views marriage differently. Just as we view polygamy as unacceptable because of legal complications and because of its exploitative nature, so have our entire standards for marriage shifted. While marriage in ancient society had more to do with property, power, and patriarchy, marriage in our culture has much more to do with love between committed adults and a family structure that is good for the economy and good for society. As a Church community, we should affirm marriage as a healthy arrangement for spiritual growth and for the nurturing of adults and children. There is no reason to believe that same-sex marriage would be any different.

As for Mark 10:6-8, I would caution the SE district to examine the entire context of this quote by Jesus, because it reveals the hypocrisy and hateful agenda behind singling out same-sex couples for discrimination. In Mark 10:2, the Pharisees approach Jesus and ask him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus replies by quoting Genesis in Mark 10:6-8, and then he continues in verse nine to say, “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”

In Mark 10: 6-8, Jesus isn’t talking about same-sex relations, nor is reaffirming a particular arrangement for couples. Instead, he is condemning divorce. I would like to see a statement from the SE District concerning divorce and remarriage. Why have we chosen instead to single out LGBTQ+ couples for shame and condemnation?

As for me, I choose to stand by Jesus in Mark 10:9: “What God has joined together, let no one separate.” I know enough same-sex couples to have witnessed God moving in those relationships. What God has joined together, I think the SE District nor anyone else ought to separate.

Point 3: “In the Old Testament in Leviticus 18:22 says “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. The New Testament in Romans 1 likewise speaks against such practices as does I Corinthians 6:9-11)”

There are several ways to approach Leviticus 18:22 in a way that affirms same-sex relations. One such way is with proper understanding of cultural context. Just as ancient marriage had more to do with power than with love, so often did all sexual acts. I’ll exemplify the point I’m trying to make with another scripture often used to condemn same-sex relations: Genesis 19, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the beginning of Genesis 19, two angels of the Lord come in male form to Lot’s house in Sodom. At night, the men of Sodom surround Lot’s house, and demand that he send the angels out into the streets so that they can rape them.

Such was a common practice in ancient culture, to exercise violent sexual dominance over strangers. Which does the Lord have a problem with? Same-sex attraction? Or sexual violence? I think it’s the latter. In Leviticus 18:22, is it possible that the scripture forbids this same expression of sexual violence and dominance? I believe so. The rest of the sexual taboos in Leviticus 18 have to do with the same themes: sexual violence, exploitation, and humiliation. Do I believe the Lord is against sexual violence against others? Yes. Do I believe the Lord is against same-sex attraction built on a foundation of love, respect, and consent? No, I don’t.

Romans 1 is another one of those scriptures that when read in full context speaks a very different story about how Christians should respond to LGBTQ+ people. Romans 1 lays out a laundry list of sinful behavior, among which is that same violent form of sexuality, as well as other sins like envy, violence, deceit, faithlessness, heartlessness, and ruthlessness. Then, just when you expect Paul to affirm to those of us who refrain from sinful behavior, he turns the other way and says, at the beginning of Romans 2: “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”

How ironic that the SE District should use Romans 1 as a justification to judg eothers, when the point of Romans 1 is to set up Paul’s instruction in Romans 2 that we not judge one another. I’m reminded of Jesus in John 8:7, who said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” Of course, Jesus, who was without sin, had every right to cast that stone, but he didn’t, because he envisioned an arrangement of God’s kingdom here on earth that prioritized love over legalism, and restorative justice over punishment, and Grace and mercy over condemnation.

Here is the NRSV text for 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 – ”

“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

I’m not sure exactly which part of this scripture is taken to be a direct condemnation of same-sex relations, but I assume it is either the term “male prostitutes” or “sodomites.” Both of these terms are once again best understood within the ancient cultural understanding of these terms.

I don’t think Paul’s gripe with male prostitutes had as much to do with the same-sex encounters with which they were a part, as much as his gripe is with the commodification of sex, of turning sex into an act that valued economic power. Just like the scripture in Leviticus condemns the use of sex to express power, so does Paul’s commentary here seem to condemn those who view sex as an expression of power or economic might.

Aside from my earlier commentary on what the actual sexual sin of Sodom was, it’s important to understand what the bible describes as the sin of Sodom. You might be surprised. The sin of Sodom is same-sex relations, right? Even if we take my understanding of sexual violence to heart, it’s still mostly about sex, right? Wrong.

The bible references “the sin of Sodom” several times. Here’s a typical example from Ezekiel 16:49-50:

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.”

The sin of Sodom had a lot more to do, once again, with exploitation and ruthlessness. They were unconcerned. They did not help the poor and needy. I do not think it is fair to say that Paul’s intent behind writing about “Sodomites” was to condemn LGBTQ+ people. Once again, this is a projection of our culture, which uses the term “sodomite” as a slur for LGBTQ+ people.

Once again, I want to emphasize that the biggest problem with the SE District’s resolution on Same-Sex marriage is that this resolution is fully within denominal policy. While we should resist expressions of hate whether they occur at the individual, congregational, district, or denominational level, those of us working for full equality in the Church of the Brethren should focus our energy into changing the denominational policy.

I also want to urge those of you who are upset with the SE District to voice your anger with love and grace. It can start by accepting that while the SE District’s resolution is hateful, that does not mean that the people of the SE district are hateful or bad people. I genuinely believe that those who affirmed this resolution believed that they were acting as their understanding of scripture indicates that they should. They were trying to honor God. To be clear, they are wrong. But we change minds by pushing back with the firm, prophetic, and gentle voice of justice, not by disparaging or belittling.

Here’s hoping that we continue our work as gentle servants of Christ, building his Kingdom brick by brick, one act of love at a time. For our work, hear again the words of Micah 6:8 – “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Let us do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. May it be so.

Emmett Eldred - Hollidaysburg COB, Middle PA District

Emmett Eldred is a junior Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.

Want to contribute? Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and/or email Emmett at dunkerpunks2014@gmail.com.

Views expressed on the Dunker Punks blog do not necessarily reflect the views of everyone within the Dunker Punks movement. We are a diverse group united by Christ, not uniform in agreement. 


Thoughts inspired by a Jarrod McKenna Facebook Post

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Those of you who follow Jarrod McKenna probably know about his recent encounter with law enforcement in Australia as he protested for the rights of refugees mistreated by the Australian government. During one of their many protests, Jarrod and other church leaders were arrested and strip searched. While the officials claimed to strip search Jarrod and the others because they suspected the clearly nonviolent protestors of carrying drugs or weapons, it’s pretty obvious that their real intent was to humiliate and discourage them.

In Jarrod’s Facebook status above, Jarrod relays the final words of his testimony in a hearing about the incident. You can read it for yourself, but essentially, Jarrod was asked why he felt it necessary to pursue the incident in court. Instead of speaking to how he had been the personal victim of police abuse, Jarrod instead affirmed this as another step in his ministry to stand up for the voiceless and oppressed. If Jarrod and other church leaders, who are middle class and carry some degree of voice and influence, can be treated in this way, imagine the harms suffered by those in police custody who have no voice to speak out against it.

Jarrod references Matthew 25:40 – “Whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.” These words from Jesus are just one of many instances throughout the Bible in which God aligns and identifies with the poor and oppressed. As we strive to follow Jesus, we cannot do so without also aligning ourselves with the poor and oppressed, speaking out for “the least of these” as we work to bring about justice.

When Jesus spoke these words, he was telling his disciples about what God’s Kingdom would look like, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Just imagine, a kingdom in which its citizens didn’t tread upon each other to secure their own blessings and comfort, but a kingdom in which all people gave voice to one another, in which the suffering of any one person was felt by all people, even the King. Jesus gave us a blueprint for how to help build a world that looks more like God’s kingdom: by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, empowering the oppressed, and standing with, and standing up for, the humiliated.

This is what Jarrod is trying to do in Australia as he fights for the rights of the many voiceless refugees detained by the Australian government in off-shore detention facilities. I hope we find ways in America to do the same, to speak up for the poor, oppressed, and voiceless in our communities, in our nation, and also by understanding the way that the United States impacts the world’s poor and oppressed and seeking to create better systems that affirm and support all human dignity.

One last point. Recent surveys have indicated that white protestant Christians in the US believe that they are more persecuted than any other group of people. More than black victims of police brutality and countless other racist structures built into our criminal justice system. More than Muslim victims of hate crimes and discrimination. More than LGBTQ victims of bullying, harassment, and astronomical suicide rates. More than the poor and disabled, who are subjected to condescending laws meant to humiliate and punish them for daring to need government assistance. And more than immigrants and their children, who are denied basic government services, who are detained in brutal detention centers, who live as fugitives in their own homes, in constant fear of arrest, attack, or deportation, who work for poverty wages just for a chance to make a better life for themselves and for their children.

When Jesus spoke the words in Matthew 25, he was a poor Jewish Rabbi speaking to his poor Jewish disciples, in the midst of brutal and oppressive Roman occupation. Even then, when many could say that he and his followers were among “the least of these,” he said that following him meant speaking out for people with even less of a voice, and standing up for those in ever more dire straits.

How much more of a challenge are Jesus’ words, then, to us, the middle class, white protestant Christians of the United States, who carry far more than our fair share of power and influence, both in our country and across the world? Instead of searching out the ways in which we might be considered the victims, what if instead we sought to identify the true victims and fought for them the way Jesus has taught us to?

I hope we take a lesson from Jarrod, who experienced police abuse himself, but has the perspective to remember how much worse the police abuse suffered by “the least of these” must be, and refuses to stop speaking out until things are made right, not for him, but for all the voiceless victims of injustice in Australia.

Emmett Eldred - Hollidaysburg COB, Middle PA District

Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter@DunkerPunks and on Facebook.

Want to contribute? Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and/or email Emmett at dunkerpunks2014@gmail.com.

ROYGBrethren Online Forum for LGBTQ Youth and Young Aduts

A group of COB LGBTQ activists has announced ROYGBrethren, an online forum that provides a safe space and community for LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults in the Church of the Brethren.

The purpose of the forum is to provide a confidential space for LGBTQ youth and young adults to share stories, offer one another support, and discuss collective nonviolent action that builds a more just and affirming community in the Church of the Brethren. ROYGBrethren is a safe space for LGBTQ youth, as well as youth who are still discovering their sexuality and gender identity. While denominational discussions determine whether to let us openly sit in pews, speak from pulpits, and co-create resources that serve our community, ROYGBrethren is a space where the humanity of LGBTQ youth and young adults is fully affirmed now.

ROYGBrethren is created by Brethren young adults who have experienced or witnessed the difficulty and isolation that many youth and young adults face in embracing their LGBTQ identity. They know first hand how alone and threatened an LGBTQ youth in the Church of the Brethren can feel when they can’t count on the love, affirmation, and support of their church community. Many LGBTQ youth grow up not knowing any LGBTQ members of the Church of the Brethren their age, and given the environment in which most Church of the Brethren congregations are located, they might not know any other LGBTQ youth in their community at all.

That’s why this resource is so important, so that LGBTQ youth and young adults can experience the love, acceptance, affirmation, and community that straight people in the Church of the Brethren take for granted. I’m thankful for the leadership of these activists who have discovered a hole in the Church of the Brethren and are determined to fill it, while so many in the COB still refuse to fully embrace the absolute and inherent humanity of all LGBTQ people.

This is an issue I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time, and like many who feel the same way as I do, I have made excuses to not talk about it. I’ve avoided talking about it because I don’t have the theological knowledge to back up what I believe to be true and just. I’ve avoided talking about it because I didn’t want to say anything too controversial. But I’m making a commitment here and know to talk about it. Instead of using my deficiencies to avoid standing up for justice, I’ll take the example of the creators of ROYGBrethren, and fill in the holes in myself so I can be a better ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven, and a better advocate for justice.

I may lack the theological knowledge at this moment to pull together a well reasoned and scriptural argument to back up my beliefs, but here’s what I do know: I know that Jesus spoke a lot more about justice than about sexuality, so to deny someone justice based on their sexuality isn’t Christlike. I know that the Bible is written from the perspective of the oppressed, so to use the Bible to oppress is to not take the Bible seriously. I know that Jesus boiled down all of God’s commandments simply to love God, and love others. So if we are anything but loving to LGBTQ people, we are being sinful.

I’m very proud of my Brethren identity. You can ask my non-Brethren friends, I talk about it all the time. I’m so proud, because in so many instances throughout our history, the Brethren have been a peculiar people set aside in their Christ-centered work for peace and justice. On issues like slavery, poverty, civil rights, and war, the Church of the Brethren has showed tremendous leadership. We’ve read the bible and understood its radical call for love and justice.

On the issue of homosexuality, we have failed. By refusing to fully and lovingly acknowledge the humanity of LGBTQ people, we have betrayed our history. We have betrayed our own humanity, especially the most basic human part of ourselves that is agape love. And we have betrayed God, who loved LGBTQ people so much that he sent his only begotten son to die on the cross for them.

Click here to read the full text of the ROYGBrethren Press Release.

Please share the news about ROYGBrethren with LGBTQ or questioning youth and young adults in your circle who would benefit from being a part of this space. Please direct interested individuals to roygbrethren@gmail.com. 

Emmett Eldred - Hollidaysburg COB, Middle PA District

Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.

Want to contribute? Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and/or email Emmett at dunkerpunks2014@gmail.com.

Thoughts on “Selma” for MLK Day

A few days ago, I saw the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma and I want to share my thoughts about what we should take away from the movie and from MLK’s legacy.

Selma is about the 1965 voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital Montgomery, AL fifty miles away. It’s about the nonviolent struggle for the right of southern African Americans to vote, which was finally enshrined in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (Southern African Americans had the right on paper since the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, but practices like poll taxes, impossible literacy and citizenship tests, grandfather clauses, other obstructionist rules, and physical intimidation made voting impossible for virtually al Southern African Americans.)

At the center of that struggle was Martin Luther King, Jr., but I think Selma does a nice job of demonstrating that this particular march, the struggle for voting rights, and the entire Civil Rights movement involved far more people. Though MLK might have been the face of the movement, he was only one of millions who fought for justice as part of this movement. In fact, I don’t really like referring to Selma as a biopic, because it’s about much more than Martin Luther King Jr.

I think that’s an important point to remember, because it reminds us that while MLK is rightly remembered as a hero, he wasn’t superhuman. As Selma’s director Ava Marie DuVernay said on the Daily Show: “He just a brother from Atlanta who got swept up in history and was able to step into that greatness. But truly he was just a human being.” There was nothing that MLK did that we are not capable of doing, and I believe there’s nothing that MLK did that we have an excuse to not do.

I think the danger in how we remember MLK today (as a hero of mythological proportions) is that we believe he set a commendable standard that is impossible to meet. We think we should honor him by remembering and being amazed by what he accomplished, when really we should honor him by stepping into his shoes, learning from his successes and shortcomings, and carrying forward his legacy.

That’s why I liked Selma. It doesn’t show him as a giant, it shows him as a human being. He sinned, he made mistakes, he had doubts, and he needed support from the people around him. He was just like you or me. Or, rather, he was just like who you and I can be, and should be. When we remember MLK, let’s not put him on a pedestal and in so doing take ourselves out of the hot seat. MLK doesn’t only belong on a pedestal, he belongs in the streets, marching for justice. So we have to take him there.

Here’s a few more takeaways that I have from Selma:

  • DuVernay also pointed out during her interview with Jon Stewart that when MLK won the nobel prize, commentators used that evidence to say that racism was over in America. It’s a similar claim to what we hear nowadays, that racism is over because we elected a black President. The myth of a post-racial society is pervasive and nothing new, but it’s very dangerous, because it gives us the opportunity to excuse ourselves from continuing to fight against racism. Obviously, racism was not over in 1964 when MLK was awarded the nobel prize, and it still isn’t today. In his iconic “I Have A Dream Speech” MLK lists a series of grievances towards the end, and the first that he lists is police brutality, which is obviously a huge civil rights struggle today.
  • Other modern civil rights struggles faced by black Americans include severe economic inequality, poverty, and (like in Selma) the right to vote. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that systemic, government sponsored racism was no longer a factor in American society, and it struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act, the very act that the marchers in Selma fought so hard to pass. Today, voter ID laws disproportionately bar black citizens from voting, and congressional redistricting (called gerrymandering) minimizes the voices and votes of black Americans by squeezing as many minorities into as few congressional districts as possible. Remember that “post-racial” America is a myth, and always fight nonviolently on the side and for the cause of justice.
  • In the kingdom of heaven, civil rights does not stop at the borders of the United States. Black people across the world are marginalized and exploited, through force, through economic exploitation, and through our obsession and love for western culture. One example I can think of is the terrorist attack in Paris, which received an enormous amount of media attention. The terrorist attack in Paris was of course horrendous and horrible and deserving of media attention, but at around the same time, Boko Haram massacred as many as 2000 Nigerians in the village of Baga. Another example is trades that exploit African goods like coffee, oil, cocoa, and diamonds. Buy fair trade items. Demand that workers around the world be treated with dignity, respect, compassion, and humanity. And of course many more examples abound.
  • Nor does civil rights only apply to black people, or just to race. In the United States, many minorities (in terms of ethnicity, gender identity, and religion) are marginalized. Unfortunately, much of this marginalization comes at the hands of Christians. My biggest prayer for the Dunker Punks movement is that we be the Christians who fight for justice, not the Christians who stand for oppression. Across the world, people are marginalized and even killed for the same reasons. Just because we live in the 21st century, doesn’t mean we live in a society or world free from injustice. If anything, the interconnectedness, opportunity, and technology of the world make injustice all the more visible, all the more potent, and all the more our responsibility to combat. In MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” he said, “We will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.'” When I look at the world, I am not satisfied, and if you aren’t either, let’s do something about it.
  • MLK spoke most harshly not of those who did evil, but of those who saw evil and did nothing. We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, and we should have no other allegiance other than to stand with God on the side of love, justice, and mercy. If we see something wrong with the world, it is our responsibility to stand up, step forward, say something, pray something, and take action.
  • In Selma, MLK pointed out that the Johnson administration was spending billions of dollars to fight the Vietnam War, but was doing nothing to protect the black citizens of the United States from racial violence, poverty, and oppression. It was a hypocritical war, ostensibly fought to certify the ideals of democracy in Vietnam, when those same ideals weren’t being played out in the United States. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? How does war and military spending today interfere with the domestic and global cause of civil rights? Not only does it directly lead to suffering, death, and destruction worldwide, but it also draws money, time, effort, and attention away from standing up for peace, justice, mercy, and righteousness. Not only do we betray our Christian ideals by waging war, but by waging war we suffocate the cause justice.

I’ll conclude with this thought. Selma is an inspirational movie. It should be. MLK was an inspirational figure. But the point of inspiration is not to feel good about what we have accomplished. The point of inspiration is to feel empowered to finish what still needs to be done. This MLK Day, let’s remember that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has not yet been realized. Let’s remember that he was guided by the words, teachings, and commandments of Jesus Christ, and so should we. When I look around, I am not satisfied, and I hope you aren’t either. So let’s step up and step forward. Let’s talk about it. Let’s pray about it. And let’s do something about it.

Emmett Eldred - Hollidaysburg COB, Middle PA DistrictEmmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.

Want to contribute? Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and/or email dunkerpunks2014@gmail.com.