As I went to make a bowl of oatmeal for myself this morning, I noticed the heart shape on the side of the Quaker® package, indicating that the product was heart-healthy. But beyond that, it reminded me of something I've learned recently -- how real Quakers really understand love.
I enjoy reading and learning about anything historical, and am very interested in genealogy. So when the show Who Do You Think You Are? (sponsored by Ancestry.com) aired on TLC, I had to watch it. I was not disappointed; I found all of the stories to be fascinating. But I think my favorite was the episode about Zooey Deschanel's family and their Quaker roots. I learned that her family, and Quakers in general, were very active in the abolitionist movement in the US. They had a strong belief in the equality of all people that led them to speak out against slavery, and help those trying to escape from it. They were real heroes in that movement, and non-violent ones, since most Quakers are pacifists, taking what is called the Peace Testimony. But they loved the enslaved people so much that they risked their lives to save them. Imagine caring that much about someone you don't even know?
Equality (and non-violence, for that matter) is something I've always felt very strongly about. Like the Quakers, I feel like I have an obligation to stand up for the equality of all people, and care about all people. God told us to love Him, ourselves, and each other. No exceptions. And we are to accept others as they are, not judge them. After all, none of us will ever know another's full story. Only God knows that. And no one is perfect. Only God is. He's the only one who can judge. We need to be available to help each other get through the tough times of this harsh world. We need to open-minded to learn the lessons He wants us to learn. And I believe He doesn't want us to get bogged down with specific rules, but to love freely and fully, constantly evaluating our actions to determine if they are promoting His love, or stifling it.
So, I was curious. How do the Quakers feel about same-sex marriage, an equality issue of our day?
According to Wikipedia, there are some who disagree with it, calling it a sin. But many see them as equal to traditional marriages. According to the Quakers in Britain website,
Quakers in Britain welcome the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act... Quakers see God in everyone and that leads us to say that all committed loving relationships are of equal worth and so Quakers in Britain wish to celebrate them in the same way.I'm on their side. Personally, I believe two people of the same gender wanting to commit themselves to each other is not a sin. It's rooted in love. "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:10) I know gay couples, some with children, and love definitely abounds in their relationships. Conversely, shutting people out, and telling them that God doesn't accept them, does not show love, and it does a lot of harm. You do the math.
People don't choose of which gender they will prefer a partner, just as people don't choose their skin color. God made us all the way He planned. Maybe God wants to challenge us. To see if we'll rise to the challenge of loving one another, even when someone is different and makes us feel uncomfortable (and He can do this is many ways). We can't condemn someone because we're uncomfortable with them. They have feelings, too. We can't just oppress people until they conform to our standards, especially if they are not hurting anyone. God gave us a simple rule to follow -- to love one another -- and yet it's so hard for us. But if we can figure it out, that is when we will find true peace in this world.
We're wasting our time on the wrong battles. We need to accept one another and move on to the bigger issues. There are hungry people waiting to be fed, hurting people waiting to be healed, cold and alone people waiting to be warmed and welcomed. Serving God in this way is how we'll truly show (and feel) love. The Quakers seem get this, and like a big bowl of that oatmeal, God's love warms and is good for our hearts.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)