My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins

“Because my faith teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman, and it symbolizes Christ and its relationship with the church. As much as I love Rob, my love for Christ is more important.”- Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, explaining on the CBS Sunday Morning program why she could not sell flower arrangements to a gay friend and longtime customer for his wedding.

I took this statement with me to church on Sunday morning. I sat in my regular pew at my PC USA 80 year old church. The one with a prestigious zip code and beautiful sanctuary in a prominent location. The one with a gay man on our session, the one with a lesbian couple working in the nursery this morning, the one that not only welcomes the LGBT community with a seat in our pews but with membership into our community of faith. We don’t pay lip service to our inclusiveness, we act on it.

Ms. Stutzman believes what she believes so much so that she is being sued and risk having her business, and her life bankrupted because she is unwilling to settle or comprise her beliefs. The price she is prepared to pay is steep.

I don’t agree with Ms. Stutzman but if I am true to my own beliefs I also can’t or shouldn’t judge her based on my disagreement. In my heart I think she is wrong and is hiding behind a doctrine whose interruption, like any doctrine, can be skewed to justify any point or position. But in her heart she believes she is correct and I don’t get the sense, based on the short interview I watched, it’s a heart full of malice or hate. It is simply how her faith directs her.

I don’t have an answer. I do know that LGBT issues, along with gun rights, and abortion and a long laundry list of other perceived rights and privileges have created a deep chasm in our country. Each side is well organized, vocal and uncompromising. We spend billions each year to defeat and defend ourselves from the forces of ISIS and Al-Qaeda but the real war is escalating here, on our soil and in our own backyards. Right now it is mostly a war of words and legislative laws and proposed bills but occasionally some mad man decides to take matters into his own hands, most recently Robert Lewis Dear, Jr.

So where do we go from here?

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”- Dalai Lama


About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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41 Responses to My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins

  1. I do not live in the USA as you know, but sadly I think this can be said for most of this beautiful world, I agree with you totally, !
    “My religión is simple, my religión is Kindness ” would it not be lovely to spread this around the world

    Liked by 1 person

  2. samanthamurdochblog says:

    Love the last sentence (of course!) but people will always hate through ignorance and fear- easiest option for some.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate when people use religion to justify any act of hate or inequality. I think kindness and love are at the root of religion, but people ignore that when they are confronted with a situation they don’t like. I don’t understand how people can preach love and forgiveness for all and then follow that statement with exceptions… There aren’t exceptions.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Cookie says:

    I don’t see how selling a man flowers for his wedding compromises his faith. People are so quick to justify their bigotry.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Smartygirl41 says:

    This is and example of why I stopped going to church years ago. I believe in a higher power, “God” — but It makes me sad that so many people make judgements on others in the name of religion.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”- Dalai Lama A very good reminder for all of us! Thank you for sharing this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love reading great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Patty says:

    “Because my faith teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman, and it symbolizes Christ and its relationship with the church”…Interpretation of the Bible, perception of the meaning behind these words…As long as people interpret and precept what they read differently, the difference will always be there. I think that is ok, since your truth doesn’t have to be my truth and vice versa.
    Although I don’t understand why Mrs. Stutzman didn’t just sell the flowers, since I don’t share here believes, at the same time I don’t understand why that person feels the need to sue her either, since he – in my opinion – does the same as Mrs. Stutzman. Is your sexual preference more important as another ones choice of religion?
    It could be so much easier just to accept we all have our own truths. The woman could have just sold those flowers, or the man could just go to another shop.
    Am I thinking and ‘making’ this to simple?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Will says:

    I have come think much of this reaction by some is that religion is the only place where life hasn’t changed. Daily compromise against a more open society test a persons core values. How they reached the level of core values is a mystery. Combinations of insight and ignorance. Church becomes the one place where self selection frees one from this struggle. A refuge. Unfortunately I have to use a term that is the only one close enough to express what I want to say. Many people are lazy about their faith. A cult of the charismatic preacher/minister/priest have lulled many into silent assent. Yes it’s a broad sweep with varying degrees inside a spectrum.
    Physical demands of older building have pushed this trend. Those churches that are inclusive surprising have no problem with raising the funds for repairs. But they get none of the notice they deserve. Your church in the nice zip code and well beautiful sanctuary is a shrinking majority in a world of divisive politics and gerrymandering.
    People of any faith that live through their beliefs are to be commended. I live a secular life that is deeply ethical. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Will, WONDERFUL observations. The growing “traditional wealthy” churches in my community are the hard-line “This is the word of God” and those like mine “These are words lets talk about them”. The churches that are exploding at the seams are more like a Starbucks or Panera Bread’s with secular feel good music and stories.

      I also consider myself secular or a Universalist is how I best label it. I reside in a very supportive faith community. Not everyone shares my views or my path but I also don’t get thumped on the head with a King James Bible as I exit the sanctuary.

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your wonderful thoughts. Peace 2u


  10. Agree, agree, agree! We are here to be love and show kindness in the world, to EVERYone. Period. The end. Thanks for a thought provoking blog and site, and for liking my post “Feeling the Bern.” : )

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can’t think of a single instance- in any religious text of any faith- where a person was punished by God for being kind to someone. I think she is free to distribute flowers with impunity.

    Liked by 1 person

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