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Summary: This is a sermon about the after life and the view that Marriage is practice for loving God. The Sermon looks at the responsibility of church leaders to not get sidelined by folks trying to use spin to keep them from focusing on loving God.

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November 10, 2013 [Green] Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 (UMH 857) 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

Luke 20:27-38 Marriage and Sex the Ultimate Curve Ball

A successful major league batter gets a hit only 30 percent of the time he comes to bat. One of the ways pitchers lower these chances even further is by throwing a curveball. A curveball is a pitch that appears to be moving straight toward home plate but that is actually moving down and to the right or left by several inches. Obviously, a pitch that curves is going to be harder to hit than a fastball that is moving straight. Any baseball pitch begins with how the pitcher grips the ball. To throw a curveball, a pitcher must hold the baseball between his thumb and his index and middle fingers, with the middle finger resting on the baseball seam. When the pitcher comes through his motion to throw the ball, he snaps his wrist downward as he releases the ball, which gives the ball topspin. The spinning action created when the pitcher releases the ball is the secret behind the curveball. This spinning causes air to flow differently over the top of the ball than it does under the ball. This imbalance of force is called the Magnus Effect, named for physicist Gustav Magnus, who discovered in 1852 that a spinning object traveling through liquid is forced to move sideways.

To play the game correctly you have to watch the spin. In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, "spin" often implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics. For years businesses have used fake or misleading customer testimonials by editing/spinning a customers clients to reflect a much more satisfied experience than was actually the case. Another spin technique involves a delay in the release of bad news so it can be hidden in the shadow of more important or favorable news or events.

The Sadducees in this text were all concerned about marriages and the after life and who is going to married to whom and Jesus breaks all that up because he says in describing heaven. Know I do believe that the Question of Marriage for these Religious Leaders was all about the Spin. How could they stop folks from focusing on the promises of God and Get caught up in the marriage question. How could they take the focus off of the poor, the hungry, the Social Justice issues of the day and focus on who is sleeping with whom?

The same thing is going on today. With the Question of Same Sex Marriage. You see Marriage equality in the beginning was not then a priority of gay activists. Rather, they focused on decriminalizing consensual sex between same-sex partners, securing legislation forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations and employment, and electing the nation’s first openly gay public officials. Indeed, most gays and lesbians at the time were deeply ambivalent about marriage.

For the Republican Party in the 1990s, gay marriage was a dream issue that mobilized its religious-conservative base and put it on the same side as most swing voters. Objecting that “some radical judges in Hawaii may get to dictate the moral code for the entire nation,” Republicans in 1996 introduced bills in most state legislatures to deny recognition to gay marriages lawfully performed elsewhere. (Such marriages were nonexistent at the time.)

The issue proved an enormous election-year boom to Republicans. Americans at the time rejected gay marriage by two to one, and opponents generally were more passionate than supporters. At the same time, the issue proved vexing to Democrats. Approximately 70 percent of self-identified gays voted Democratic, yet some of the party’s traditional constituencies, such as working-class Catholics and African Americans, tended to strongly oppose gay marriage.

The Sadducees were attempting to back Jesus into a corner regarding his preaching about the afterlife. A woman was not allowed to marry multiple men. This resulted in adultery. If heaven existed, their logic went, then the woman who married multiple men would have committed adultery in heaven (thereby disallowing her admittance into heaven--creating a paradox).

The other question that the Sadducees were missing was the questions of the rights of the women in general. Women's rights and economic development are highly correlated. Today, the discrepancy between the legal rights of women and men is much larger in developing compared to developed countries. Historically, even in countries that are now rich women had few rights before economic development took off. The literature on the economic consequences of women's rights documents that more rights for women lead to more spending on health and children, which should benefit development.

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