In medicine, a simple rule guides the treatment of a wound: the deeper the wound, the longer the healing. Physicians treat deep wounds differently and commend patients to exercise patience while the body responds to treatment and completes the healing.
In sociology and theology, the same rule applies: the deeper the wound, the longer the healing. Physicians of society and doctors of the soul are right in telling us not to expect a quick-fix when we are wounded deeply. Rather, healing progresses over time, often with occasional setbacks. This is normal. Patience is required, even as perseverance continues.
With respect to last week’s SCOTUS decision to approve nationwide same-sex marriage, we begin by acknowledging that a deep wound in our society is now beginning to heal, but that it will take time before the wound closes completely. I do not write this to advocate passivity, but rather to exhort us to perseverance born of quiet confidence.
Christ, the Great Physician, applies the healing medicine that carries the aroma of love, now applied and offered to all. To those who are perishing it will be smelled as a stench of death. But to those being saved, it will be the odor of life (cf. 2 Cor 2:15-16). But it takes a while before an aerosol spray covers the entire house to create a new fragrance.
The deep woundedness experienced by so many for so long still needs the triage of love, rather than the oft-used North American response of “Well, now that this is taken care of, we can move on to something else.” No, we hold hands and stick together (to borrow a phrase from Robert Fulghum), and cross the street from one reality to another.
Similarly, those who feel wounded by the SCOTUS decision must receive the same love that provides healing grace from unfounded fear. This too takes time and sustained effort. And some will resist the medicine longer than others, with some perhaps never taking it.
But as with previous corrections in society and church, time will yield the final verdict. In the meantime, recognizing that the deeper the wound, the longer the healing, Light shines on our path, as we pray the words of the hymn, “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage–for the living of these days.”