"To mend the laws takes time as well as passion," Deacon Adams, spoken to his son, John Adams, our second president and first vice president.
Before that, he was minister to the Court of St. James and delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress.
Before that, he was a lawyer and successful defender of the British soldiers of the infamous Boston Massacre.
In between the last two, passionate revolutionary.
In all those roles, we like to say, in my denomination at least: "He was, of course, a Congregationalist."
Adams pushed for change in every corner of his life, with a passion that made him seem, in his own words: "stubborn, obnoxious and rude."
Making his wife, Abigail, in her own words, sometimes tired of being "married to the first man in line to be hanged."
Because of his relentless passion we have as a nation today, vested nearly from the outset with principles including freedom of press and religion that, by sheer force born of their inherent passion, continue to expand.
Though some things can never happen fast enough, and while nearly all of us eventually become prepared to defend to the death principles we might have abhorred 20 years ago, whenever we get involved in the passion of time, there is a ruckus on the way.
That ruckus, often raised by people who at the time seem "stubborn, obnoxious and rude," is part of the passion of time.
It is a passion born of morality that abhors injustice, advanced by those few who are able to stand at the precipice and recognize a past from which they want to disassociate themselves and a future to which they want to belong.
Consider just a few of the things those ruckus-raisers have pushed us into, whether or not we thought we are ready; things we now readily accept that were not long ago considered taboo:
Women working outside the home.
Women in the pulpit.
Women being considered anything but the provocateur and pariah of any sexual crime.
Mixed race marriage.
Integrated schools, public places and sports.
Movies once picketed by parents and banned in Atlanta and Boston. (Ask your parents about "Splendor in the Grass;" ask your grandparents about Clark Gable's closing line in "Gone With The Wind" when he said: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
Inoculations and blood transfusions.
Oh, and because we're in Florida, let's not forget Sunday business closings, liquor by the drink, Medicare and Medicaid.
Every one of those subjects was objected to as, and overcame, core moral issues -- and then became moral.
Note to the present: Our list cannot yet include equal pay for women, living wages for many full-time workers, getting serious about domestic, workplace and campus violence against women, comprehensive health care for people of all ages, better societal understanding of mental health issues (particularly depression), and recognition the way you were born gives you the same rights as everybody else; unfortunately our bigotry is still out on those so, as Robin Williams might have said: "I'm going to have to get back to you on that."
Nor can we pretend the day has come when our attitudes about race, education and economic opportunity match our laws; as the indefensible murder of Michael Brown has shown, we've been too deeply mistaught and our various approaches to one another too rationalized by our intentional political divides.
Translation, there are too many important morally based issues on which we're not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we're still seeing the train coming at us.
Nevertheless, because an issue has not yet caught up with the passion of time does not mean its resolution should wait.
Rather, people of faith are called to take hold, make them happen, be bold.
From Adam's perspective, one's failure to act in hastening the future made one subject to the omnipotent whims of others. Adams even went so far as to call those who failed to act "cowards and slaves."
Now, same-sex marriage is about to happen in Florida. Yes, there's kicking and screaming, and some of our friends in faith are making the most noise, nearly all of it sincere.
But the ruckus-raisers aren't going to have it, particularly some of us "stubborn, obnoxious and rude" people of faith. No, it won't get done today, and tomorrow doesn't look too good, either, but it's only a matter of time. Soon, virtually every body of worship will welcome members and clergy without the slightest concern for their marital or sexual status and, more to the point, they'll be holding weddings in their sanctuaries without giving gender a second thought.
Some of these, in the near term, and virtually all of them, in the long term, will happen because people of faith will have matured with regard to their interpretations of their sacred texts. Translation: we'll no longer see our texts as excluding people; we'll recognize them for the great and sacred messages they truly reveal, as we allow their words to expand instead of narrow our thinking.
As new norms come and old ones go, we people of faith are called to be "stubborn, obnoxious and rude" parts of the conversation. As in dialogue, not monologue. To be people who truly understand the words we share in our conversations will be read by future generations as they wonder what the fuss was all about when they face their own questions. And if they get it right -- and they will -- they will do it in the passion of time.
That's something John Adams would have welcomed, understood, and fought for. After all, if you will forgive the ethnocentricity, he was a Congregationalist.
Rev. Dr. Robert Sichta, Congregational United Church of Christ, 3700 26th St. W., Bradenton, can be reached by calling 941-756-1018 or e-mailing PBKAlpha1@gmail.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.