Target Audience: Conservatives, Evangelical Christians, Fundamentalist Christians
God is Love (1John 4:8)
What happens when we blend the definition of love with our political ideologies? An ideology is a set of beliefs commonly held by people within a certain group. For example, conservatives have beliefs that are distinctive to them. The same is true for liberals and other political ideologies. Everyone has an ideology of some kind. All of us align ourselves with one community or another, often several different communities intersect our lives. So our worldview is often a blend of various different ideologies and systems of belief.
Those of us who identify as followers of Jesus, though, have agreed to align our worldview with a much higher standard — the principles of the kingdom of God, which Jesus Himself ushered in when He was on earth. As such, we commit to a new way of seeing other people.
Recently, I had a conversation with a young Christian. He told me that while he doesn’t offer much original content on his Facebook page, his friends have no doubt about where he stands on God and issues such as LGBTQ. When I dug a bit deeper I discovered that his idea of “standing for God” was to tell people within the LGBTQ community that they are living in sin and their lifestyle would ultimately destroy them. In his opinion, this was the best way to communicate and show them the love of God. He went on to tell me that he did not have “time for theological discussions”. Sadly, he is symbolic of many right-wing, conservative Christians who tend to highlight the wrath, the judgment, the anger of God as opposed to His love, forgiveness, and His mercy. I was not privy to his conversations with the LGBTQ people to which he referred, but I doubt any of them asked if they could go to church with him to hear more about his vengeful God.
Like so many [conservative] Christians these days, he focused on a person’s issues — note I did not use the word sin — instead of doing what Jesus really asked us to do, point them to Himself that they may know His love. Sin robs all humanity of the moral high ground. None of us have the right to think of ourselves as better than anyone else or to sit in judgment of another person. That alone is Christ’s role.
When we wrap prejudice, hatred, and bigotry up and call it love we betray God and the essence of the gospel by which we were saved. I have often felt that the people who feel they have the moral high ground and look down on others tend to feel that it didn’t take quite as much of Jesus’ blood to cleanse them as it does the real perverts, like people in the LGBTQ community.
That brings me to The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. While I can agree on a few points in this document, most of the points, specifically referring to race, sexual orientation, and women are abhorrent to the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This statement places men above women, and in fact subjugates women to men in a marriage relationship rather than making them equal partners with their husbands. A proscription found in the Pauline epistles prohibiting women from teaching in church or even speaking in church has been elevated to transcendent doctrine instead of being identified as a cultural practice. In Paul’s time men were usually educated and women were taught by men. Hence, women were not equipped to teach or speak in churches in that day. That doesn’t make them unequal with men. That is merely a cultural norm that does not need to be carried over into the 21st century.
Women were not their only targets. People within the LGBTQ community also felt their hatred and scorn. Instead of welcoming people from that community into churches as full members of the body, worshipping alongside all others, The Statement declares them to be sinful merely because of their identity and their lifestyle. Far too many Christians have misread and misunderstood the New Testament with respect to homosexuality. Even worse, they have demonized homosexual men and women, making it a far greater issue than it ever was in the Bible. I have long believed this hatred and bigotry is borne of insecurity among heterosexual leaders in churches that they have successfully inculcated in their flocks over generations. It is now accepted as transcendent doctrine on the level of the deity of Christ, blood redemption, or the virgin birth, when in fact it is error that went to seed.
Jesus said: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. (John 13:34-35). The authors of the Statement got it wrong. It is the exclusive work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin. In their smugness, highlighting the errors of other sinners for which Christ died, they inadvertently violated another instruction that Christ gave: take the plank out of your own eye before you worry about the speck in another person’s eye. The hatred and bigotry that shone through so brightly, not the love of God for all creation, is nothing more than a blight against evangelical Christianity. Instead of drawing people to Christ, many, I am sure, will flee as fast as possible. Who wants to be around a vengeful, hateful god like that?
A much more positive and progressive read is this one: Statement on God’s Justice.