Hey, shut up man!
Nobody likes a whistle blower.
No one who benefits from a system of privilege (especially those who profit the most in the system) ever appreciates when someone shines a light on who/what is being short-changed in said system.
Especially if that person is from within.
That person is a heretic. A traitor. A blasphemer of the American Christian Dream.
That’s the bad news, but here’s the good news: there are a lot more people (from within) beginning to “see the light”. Many more white evangelicals are beginning to see that there is a contradiction between what their faith compels them toward, versus what they keep hearing they are supposed to uphold.
And what things are they (we) supposed to “uphold”?
That’s a good question, and I am so glad you asked!
Supposedly, evangelicals are to uphold a narrative that benefits and/or comforts the white American Christian’s conscious. This is including, but not limited to:
“All lives matter (dammit)!”
“You can’t ‘choose’ your gender or your sexual orientation!”
“All Muslims are (or will become) terrorists!”
“Vote your faith!”
All of this makes perfect sense to the white evangelical. It means if you are pro choice, then you are obviously anti life, or if you are pro gay, then you are obviously anti God, or if you are pro Black Lives Matter, then you are obviously anti “any other life” matters, or if you are a friend to a Muslim without trying to “convert” them, then you are obviously not a “real” Christian.
If one does not meet that evangelical litmus test, then that particular person is considered a liberal pagan who sold their soul to politics.
But for those of us who question these manmade (and, frankly, unbiblical) assertions, are we really liberal pagans? Have we really ceased to espouse the Gospel of Jesus when we challenge the evangelical status quo? Are we the ones that sold our souls to politics, and not the other way around?
Let’s review with another set of questions…
Why is it that evangelical pastors can preach against, and bemoan the right, of a homosexual to espouse a Christian faith, but then say nothing of other social issues? Seriously! Most evangelical pastors I’ve listened to are bible-thumping absolutists on issues of sexuality, and they are certainly not afraid to give their parishioners a piece of their mind on this subject (or other evangelical “safe zone” political topics such as abortion, or why voting for anyone who is pro choice is akin to forfeiting one’s salvation), yet somehow other social/political issues of equality, the Syrian refugee crisis, or basic human rights needs, they suddenly don’t have much of an opinion on (because apparently those topics are where church and state should not cross lines).
Hmmm… I guess it might be too political to champion the rights of the under privileged, or to advocate for equal rights, or to even attempt to understand the purpose of Black Lives Matter.
I’ve got news for us evangelicals… we can’t “pick and choose” our political battles. When it comes to humanity, and the value of life, the stock answers of an historically white Christian majority America just don’t cut it any more. This is the Age of Information for crying out loud. If we could possibly think that people (all people… any people) don’t know what the message was of the Man Jesus, then we are truly deceiving ourselves (the whole world knows what Jesus said now… and they are rolling their eyes every time we Christians try to justify our un-Christlike behavior).
There were a couple things “absolute” in the message of Jesus, and it’s plain as day, exposed for all to see. One of those things was that there is a sovereign God, and that he was speaking on his behalf. This is kind of scary stuff when you stop and think about it, because we are talking about a guy who was considered a heretic by the majority of the people he came in contact with as well (funny how I can identify with that in a super tiny way).
Now if you are secular, or not in belief of anything such as a “higher power” regardless of faith or tradition, I am sure the thought of some type of sovereign entity sounds nutty. The fact is, most Christians sometimes worry about the nuttiness of it as well, we just don’t say anything about it because we would be shunned as an “unbeliever” (just swagging, but I expect that happens in other areas where there is a “dominant” expression of faith of some kind).
Not to worry though, because it is not my job or intention to make (or force) anyone to believe exactly what I might believe, because as a person who believes in the words of Jesus, I must be willing to put myself in the position of serving others, not commanding others to serve me (or my faith).
Which brings me to the second “absolute” of Jesus’ message, and that is humility. Sacrificing life (in Jesus’ case anyway, not necessarily in my own, or any of us living such privileged lives in an affluent culture). Giving others grace and mercy, or forfeiting my privilege, was a non-negotiable when it comes to whether I have the right to call myself a disciple of Jesus.
These are the things that Jesus talked most about; these were his absolutes. If you think I’m nuts (which no doubt there is a hint of truth to that thought), I would encourage you to read what Jesus said about how we are to live… especially if you already call yourself a Christian like me! These words are easy to find.. they are highlighted in red in a majority of New Testaments by the way, so they are very hard to confuse with what other people say.
In any event, this is the stuff that I like to blow the whistle on because many who proclaim the same faith as me are just plain mean spirited. They like to claim that people like me are the ones that are the problem, and that people like me are the ones who have somehow rejected a faith in “the God of the Bible”.
I don’t think that’s the case really. I don’t think that’s the case because I quite literally think that I don’t even believe in the same “god” that many of my fellow evangelicals believe in. Granted, we read the same bible, and we follow the narrative of the same story, but the Jesus as a servant who compels his own disciples to deny themselves (ie their preferences, their comforts, their privileges) is definitely not the same Jesus that you hear preached about from most pulpits.
And even though I live in the “Buckle of the Bible Belt” I won’t stop calling bluff. I won’t stop telling my kids that to express a faith in the God that Jesus talked about means that it requires them to consider others before themselves… even when it is inconvenient… especially when it is inconvenient!
I won’t stop blowing the whistle on an evangelical system of belief that claims to be apolitical (when it suits), yet does everything in its power to preserve its ideologies and political persuasions, while ignoring the very real issues of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia in this country.
And I am looking for other evangelicals to stand up to the bigotry espoused by a system of belief dominated by the white male evangelical (and especially those like me who are, by default, the most complicit in the problem).
Blow the whistle.
Walk out of your bigoted church if you have to.
Look for others you can talk to about the double standard we call American Christianity.
Befriend others in your community who don’t look like you, think like you, or worship God like you.
Keep doing it even when people tell you to shut up, stay resolved and serve people around you humbly anyway. Don’t succumb to the pride that pulls you back into the “inner circle” of a church “family” that thrives on hate and ignorance because you are afraid of what they might think of you. If you don’t believe me, then the next time you “pray” for God’s favor, ask him to cut you some slack because of all the work your evangelical hands have been doing “for Him”…
And let me know what he says. :)