We are so quick to defend every opinion about the most pointless things. But we run like frightened rabbits when we are asked to do some serious thinking about the things the Bible does say.
I believe the church must do better. I believe we need to read ALL the Bible, including the difficult and scary parts. As an example, in Proverbs 31: 8-9 we read these words: "Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable. Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor." Proverbs 31:8-9
In my county we have a jail that fails on every level to provide basic care of the people incarcerated there, fails to provide a safe working environment for jail employees, regularly gets plastered on the front page of the newspaper (though local broadcast and electronic media are doing an astonishing job of glossing over the issues) with long articles documenting dangerous conditions, yet our political "leaders" are mute, more interested in trolleys and art districts and closing recycling centers than in addressing the most basic human needs for safety and dignity. Few people incarcerated in this jail or working in this jail walk out of its doors feeling hopeful about building a better future because fear does not drive positive change in any environment. And in this building there is an amazing amount of fear and very little hope; but then, wealthy defendants don't spend much time behind these walls and the people who do are voiceless in the world.
The chaplain and other volunteers offer what hope there is and are overwhelmed and serve at the pleasure of the very people who have allowed this situation to develop to this point. If they are like other volunteers I have spoken with, they constantly balance being allowed to tend gently those they can, forgoing speaking the truth loudly and loosing the opportunity to serve there at all.
The political folks in charge of this have just commissioned a second study but as they wait to have all the necessary political cover completed and paid for, they hail this interim improvement: hundreds of doors have been replaced because they did not lock. This included doors to cells assigned to incarcerated individuals to sleep. This has resulted in several rapes of people. Though privacy laws (and a sense of care) prevent us from knowing exactly who, we know that statistically they were likely charged with a petty crime but unable to pay bail or fines. It is no surprise that the authorities cannot find the funds to make needed changes to the facility and, far more importantly, changes to the CULTURE of this jail because they are having to pay hefty settlements for both injuries to the incarcerated and for fostering a hostile and unsafe working environment.
Are our churches speaking out on behalf of these vulnerable brothers and sisters? I'm not being deafened by their demands. If they are picketing at the jail, it is not being reported. If they are writing their political representatives it is not making much of a wave. THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE, BUT IT IS IN THE HANDS OF CORRUPT ELECTED OFFICIALS, for if they are not corrupt surely they would themselves be picketing and speaking and demanding that the horrors of this situation be shoved in the face of every decent person even if it is not their personal horror or that of their child or their parent who is at risk in this facility EVERY DAY. Maybe it is only the person next door, or at the next desk, or a more distant family member, or the person they need to make their business successful or save their child's life. We are all PEOPLE, people!
Will you bring this to your churches, to pastors and church councils? Will you pray passionately that people with hearts for God will welcome a clearer understanding of the issues and act in ways that can move us forward?
I believe our very future depends upon this!