Thing is, I don’t heckle street preachers. (I’ll heckle people who don’t have common sense in their t-shirt choices, which I recognize is perhaps ironic given my T-shirt today.)
Instead, I like to approach these people and talk to them. It’s definitely a lot more interesting for me, and unlike straight heckling, doesn’t make me look like a jerk. So for your benefit, the questions I would have liked to ask (and have answered):
- You called my wife a loose woman earlier today. Jesus asked for those without sin to throw the first stone, and to pluck the log out of our eyes before getting the splinter from another’s. How do you reconcile that with your behavior?
- Jesus tended to hang around with the lowest of the low – prostitutes, the poor, lepers, criminals, and tax collectors (who would have been traitors from a Jewish perspective at the time). He did not condemn them, but instead talked about a different way. How does that mesh with what you are doing?
- (After any mention of Leviticus or the kosher laws, including those often cited about homosexuality) Have you eaten a cheeseburger? Lobster? Is your clothing made of blended materials? How do you decide which of these laws to pick and which to ignore?
- What is your goal here? Do you really think labeling people as being unclean in some way is going to achieve that goal? Have you tried other methods to reach your goal?
It’s the same thing I do when I run into anti-abortion protesters. I’m genuinely interested in how someone can see the same information that I have and not come to the same conclusions. Do they have the same information? Do they value something differently than myself? Why?
I have no illusions about this. I don’t think I will suddenly convert anyone to my way of thinking, nor do I go to people’s places of worship and start debating them. Believe what you like for your own life, really.
But when it’s done in public, or it’s being used as a justification to control others, that’s a different story entirely.
And maybe when we discuss these things publicly, when we talk rationally and in a goal-oriented way about controversial topics like abortion or religion, we might actually get past the rancor and bitterness.
We might actually get to where we accept each other as people.