LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Words, much like art, left to interpretation
Published 4:46 pm Monday, July 31, 2023
In one of his cartoons, pastor turned artist David Hayward, “The Naked Pastor,” has Jesus say to a group of Bible-carrying people: “the difference between me and you is you use scripture to determine what love means and I use love to determine what scripture means.”
This quote seems to sum up the perspectives shared in the letters published by the SNAP this past Saturday in response to the recent county council decision regarding “adult entertainment.”
First, the cartoon is a work of art which illustrates the perspectives shared by several leaders of arts organizations in Stanly. I concur with the viewpoints indicating that art, whatever the medium, has many functions beyond entertainment.
At its best, art should be provocative; it should challenge our sensibilities and encourage us to move out of our comfort zones and see life from a different perspective. As a retired music therapist, I also concur that the arts should be safe spaces for people to express their creativity without the risk of moral judgment.
Second, the cartoon illustrates the need, as one of my pastors says, to read and interpret the scriptures through a lens of love. Anyone can “proof text” scripture to support a point of view, and unfortunately this approach is often used to weaponize scripture in an attempt to shut down differing points of view or to label them as “evil.”
As a practicing Christian, I believe that the most important passage in the Gospels is found in Matthew 22:37-40 which features the greatest commandments to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…and mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
Jesus lived a life of radical, unconditional love, and that love was lavished especially on those who were marginalized in Jesus’ own society.
Where does Jesus’ radical love invite and challenge those of us who claim to follow Him?
Is it a demonstration of radical, unconditional love to conflate “prurient interests” (however defined) with the lives of those among us who claim non-conforming gender identities?
What might it take for those of us who identify as cis-gender to recognize that these individuals also are made in God’s image and to accept the gifts that God might offer to us through them?