Don’t Have the Stomach

Newspaper1I fired up my computer today thinking that I would do some work – write a few quick articles, spend time with the wife, maybe hit the beach later. But as I sat reading the news and preparing to write on the Mozilla CEO story, I just started to feel sick. The news today can make anyone feel sick to their stomach – trending on Google right now are stories about the latest Fort Hood shooting, an AP reporter killed in Afghanistan, and even a category simply titled “rape.”

Hell in a hand basket?

I’m not one to believe apocalyptic jargon. I take great comfort in the fact that a) God promised not to destroy the earth with another catastrophic flood (also, the Noah movie is still trending) and b) that we know not the hour when the master comes. In fact, I take a lot of comfort simply in knowing that even with all these terrible stories, God is there. What I do not find comforting is humanity, which has repeatedly shown its capacity to abuse, ostracize, murder, and maim fellow human beings. Our violence in all its spiritual, mental, and physical forms, is repugnant and I am probably not the least offender in participating in that vicious cycle.

But how do we deal with this? What do we do? What can we change? The answers are held in the simple message of Jesus Christ: love one another. The fix to the world’s problems is really just that simple. Obviously, the rebuttal is “easier said than done,” but that’s kind of the point. It is really easy to say and people everywhere are saying it. But, hypocritically, every one of us is all talk and no action.

All Talk, No Action

Take for instance, this “Christian” meme:

2014-04-01-homophobic-thumb

The hypocrisy present in this has been wonderfully discussed by Eliel Cruz, a Seventh Day Adventist Gay Rights advocate, who I highly recommend you check out. I’m not going to launch into a full scale rebuttal. I don’t need to.

What I will say is this: nowhere in this meme is there any action towards what Jesus Christ told us all to do: there is no love of neighbor in action. Instead, there are claims of love, there is self defense, there is a chastisement of what the meme creator believes all gay people think about Christians. There are no actions to back up these claims. Instead of doing the hard thing and figuring out what loving someone they disagree with looks like, the people who use this meme use it self servingly to try and feel better about themselves for what they are doing – which is hating their gay neighbor.

In fact, I could argue that the Christians who use this meme are the worst kind of Christians – the lukewarm.

Lukewarm Christians

How would I do that?

It’s actually quite simple. All you have to do is look at Matthew chapter 19.

In this chapter, a rich man comes to Jesus and asks, “What must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus says he must keep the commandments. The rich man asks which ones. Jesus answers:

You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself. (v. 18-19)

The rich man says he’s done all these things. But he knows he’s lacking something. He knows instinctively that he doesn’t have something quite right. What is it? What is he missing? Jesus’ answer was simply to sell all he had and follow Jesus.

This chapter has most often been used to talk about the role of money in Christianity. Rich people can’t enter heaven, etc. But that misses the fundamental point of Jesus’ answer: the call to action. The rich man said he did all these things. He said he was following all the commandments, including the greatest commandment. But Jesus asked him to do something about it, he didn’t want to. He left Jesus and didn’t do the hard, right thing.

The rich man simply wasn’t too keen on doing the hard stuff. The book of Revelation talks about rich people in the same vein Jesus did: they talk a lot and do nothing.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Rev. 3:15-16)

Christians who say they love the gays and are still “friends” with them are lukewarm. They are not loving their neighbor with their deeds like Jesus said all Christians should. I don’t have to say what that means. Christians should already understand the role of the Great Commandment in their lives – it isn’t going to be easy.

Easier Said Than Done

As Christians, I think we have a real problem with sitting back to look at the world and then ignoring our role in it. We are in many cases, some of the greatest perpetrators of the violence we see in the world. I am no exception. Being gay does not give me a moral high ground and neither does being straight. Instead, there are different vantage points where it’s easier to see how the world works and how it feels to be well and truly hated. That is the only advantage I have over some of my straight friends: I have experienced violence on my own person in all the ways it can be perpetrated – spiritually, mentally, and, yes, physically. I believe Gay Christians are in a unique position to help the Church be better at actually loving its neighbor.

I can’t wish away the problems of the world. I can’t even avoid looking at them. My work won’t allow me to. As much as I would like to be a hermit in a technology free cell somewhere in the middle of nowhere (and I would like that someday), it simply isn’t an option for me. I have to be out in the world and learning how to love my neighbor. Even a neighbor who seems to be making no effort to love me.

And in the meantime, I think I’ll just actually take this Australian Saturday off work and read a book instead of caring about the news.
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