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Monday, July 27, 2015

Today’s Reading | Romans 14:1–9

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. (NRSV)

My wife and I have a mixed marriage. I am actually talking about a deep divide that we have had to bridge from the first day of our relationship to the present.

She is a vegetarian. I am not.

There are a lot of arguments that can be had over this question. When it comes to diet, there are a lot of rabbit holes to fall down. Vegetarian. Carnivore. Kosher. Halal. Macrobiotic. Organic. Locavore. Dairy free. Gluten free. Lots of opinion, lots of conflicting science, lots of orthodoxies imposed. And I’m not going to talk about any of that. In our society, food is pretty readily available. We have the luxury of choice, and with the luxury of choice comes the luxury of self-justification and debate.

What is unsustainable in human terms is a friendship that says, “I do what I do for my reasons, and you must also do what I do for my reasons.” In our household, neither of us suggests that the other is intellectually or morally deficient due to our menu choices. She eats what she eats, and I eat what I eat. I don’t expect her to join me in my annual steak dinner, and she doesn’t expect me to eat cold cauliflower puree—which is good because that stuff is seriously awful.

People are curious and contradictory creatures, and this is not limited to diet. Blanket applications of any orthodoxy are, as a result, inherently inhumane. Judgment, argument, and disputation are not building blocks for community. Kindness, tolerance, and welcome are. Our challenge is always to be humane to one another.

By the way, after years of living with a vegetarian, I eat a lot less meat than the average American. And that’s fine, too. I don’t feel deprived, and I don’t feel extra virtuous. Still, though, I draw the line at the cauliflower puree. That stuff is just nasty.

Lord, left to our own devices we can be really judgmental dopes. Help us learn to temper that judgment with kindness and to show others the love you have shown us. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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