I was elated yesterday when I heard the news reports that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, arguing that it unduly discriminates against legally married same sex couples. But my elation so quickly was tempered when the same program reported that after hearing the news, Mike Huckabee tweeted, “Jesus wept.” I can’t write my first response here. It was full of bile and name-calling. I’ve found that such and emotional reaction isn’t very helpful for me or anyone else.
Mike Huckabee is the master of the cleverly worded sound bite. So, to take this relatively famous and well-known passage, lift it from it’s biblical context, and insert it into another completely different context would, of course, speak to his constituency. But it’s patently dishonest and uses Jesus’ own words in a way that I think would make Jesus weep.
When Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, I think he was weeping not primarily over the death of his friend. After all, momentarily he would call forth the corpse from the tomb. I think he was weeping at the cumulative brokenness of the human condition, a brokenness that eventually ends in death for all of us; I think he was weeping at the separation that our brokenness causes between us, a separation over which we grieve not only at death, but all along the journey of life. Because of our separation and brokenness, we experience untold suffering, individually and communally. I can imagine Jesus already outside Lazarus’s tomb weeping over the weight of human sin and all of the injustices we inflict on one another.
So, to say that Jesus wept at the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday rings hollow. In my own understanding of the Christian faith, it’s wrong. In fact, if Jesus was weeping, he would have been weeping at the brokenness that results from laws that stand in the way of allowing loving, committed couples from enjoying the same societal benefits of marriage that heterosexual couples have always enjoyed. And if Jesus was shedding any tears yesterday, I think they would have been tears of joy that finally, the law has fallen down on the side of equality, love, justice, and commitment.