One had "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" amidst the instantly recognizable Rainbow Flag of the LGBT community.
The other had "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" next to an image of a fetus, around which were the words: Abortion Stops a Beating Heart.
I had to pull over to the side of the road for a few minutes, just to take it all in.
How can a psalm be both anti-abortion and pro-LGBT at the same time? I mean, you would be hard pressed to find someone in the anti-abortion group who would embrace any one of the categories of people represented in the "alphabet soup" of God's Rainbow Tribe. Likewise, while there are assuredly LGBT people who are opposed to abortion, the preponderance of LGBT people support reproductive justice for women.
So, how is it that two very different groups can claim the same piece of scripture to support their very different positions?
One answer lies in an understanding of something called "proof texting" - which, by the way, is not something one does on one's smart phone.
Proof texting is the method by which a person appeals to a verse or very short passage of biblical text to prove or justify a theological or doctrinal position without regard for the context of the passage they are citing.
There are dangers to proof texting. I'll never forget the time I was counseling a RC priest who had been charged with pedophilia. He simply didn't understand why what he did was wrong.
He took out a picture of Jesus, which he kept in his bible. It depicted Jesus sitting on a rock, a lamb around his neck, a gaggle of children at his feet. On the bottom of the picture was this citation from scripture which he understood as scriptural warrant to what he did not yet understand as his illness. It was from Matthew 19:14: "Jesus said, ''Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"
Elizabeth Tokar retells a story every seminarian has heard about the dangers of proof texting in her book, "Humorous Anecdotes Collected from a Methodist Minister":
"A man dissatisfied with his life decided to consult the Bible for guidance. Closing his eyes, he flipped the book open and pointed to a spot on the page. Opening his eyes, he read the verse under his finger. It read, "Then Judas went away and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:5b) Closing his eyes again, the man randomly selected another verse. This one read, "Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'" (Luke 10:37b)I've seen the same thing done with the scriptural passage: "All love is of God" (1John 4:7). In the early days of the movement for Liturgical Rites of Blessings of the Covenant of Same Gender Couples, it was a constant refrain. That was met with the expected rant from the Right about how LGBT "love" was evidence of the "corruption" of The Fall.
And, we were off. Scriptural gymnastics, I call it. I don't advise it. You can hurt yourself - and others - in the process. I won't even get into the violence it does to Scripture.
Even St. Augustine thought the practice of proof texting was a sin. Then again, St. Augustine saw sin lurking under every fig leaf.
There are all sorts of variations on these examples of proof texting, but you get the point.
Scripture has been used to argue for and against all sorts of social issues, from slavery to the subjugation of women, to corporal punishment for children, to....well, name an issue, any issue, and you can make an argument for or against it, using Scripture to support your position.
Truth be told, I am decidedly for reproductive justice and comfortable with my sexual orientation because of Psalm 139. Maybe that's because I'm also decidedly Anglican.
I don't know if I can explain, as a member of the Queer Community, the comfort I draw from these words, when you are told that you are an abomination in the sight of the Lord:
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth. Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be. How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them! Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands; to finish, I would need eternity.To know that nothing about me is hidden from God - not even my sexual orientation - as I was being "knit in my mother's womb" is a source of solace and comfort and peace that surpasses all human understanding, and allows me to continue to delight in the great variety and goodness of God's creative expression as it is exhibited in my very being.
At the same time, I can embrace and draw comfort from these words in my work in reproductive justice. These words tell me that the life of the woman who is considering abortion is also valuable to God. The words . . . . .
"How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them! Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands; to finish, I would need eternity,". . . . . remind me that I am not in control of anything in this life - not even another person's decision to do what she deems best for herself. God is. Whatever she decides about this pregnancy is between her and the God of her understanding.
It is not my decision to make. It is not my place to judge or condemn. I can only affirm for her what she may have once known but may now have doubts: She is a child of God and precious in God's sight. Along with the divine gift of sexuality, she is also given the divine gift of intelligence.
God has also bestowed us with the gift of free will and, if we mess up and make the wrong choice - even if people judge and revile us - God is the source of boundless forgiveness and mercy.
It's called grace.
So, yes, it's all there in Psalm 139. It's not a polemic statement. It's a statement of fact. It's not doctrine. It comes from scripture, which is not a rule book. It's a guide book.
It's a statement of the irrefutable fact that, at the center of life, there is a mystery greater than our wildest imaginings.
And, the name of that mystery is Love.
We are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made. The world would be a much better place if we treated each other as if we actually believed that were true.