One Of Those Christians
I am, as I may have previously mentioned, a Christian. I have occasionally been asked, “are you one of those Christians?” The question, delivered with a cringe, is a valid, if inarticulate, one. There are many sorts of people using the word “Christian” to define themselves, but wearing the name “Christian” doesn't make a person a follower of Christ any more than wearing a white coat makes a person a doctor. Sadly, some of these people are not serving as ambassadors of the Gospel, but as mongers of hate, war, and prejudice. Haters, as they say, are gonna hate, but I adamantly wish they would leave Christianity out of it.
In the past month four huge embarrassing stories have surfaces in the media. Oddly I didn't hear about them from Christian watchdog groups but from Princess Free Zone and George Takei. At the urging of my own conscience, and an article by Michelangelo Signorile, I'm weighing in here to add a Christian voice to their chorus of denouncement. Their behaviour is not the behaviour of Christ. I am not one of these Christians, my church is not one of these churches, and my pastor is not one of these pastors:
|Photo By Eric Chan|
Embarrassment The First: Pastor Sean Harris Tells Parents To Punch Their Effeminate Children
On May first the Huffington Post reported the violent and hateful remarks of Sean Harris, who actually told his congregation to punch their sons for acting effeminate, and to rebuff their daughters for acting “butch.” In the interest of fairness this Pastor did eventually apologise, but I'm afraid a lot of people aren't taking his apology seriously. As a Christian, although his hate-filled words break my heart, I am obliged to forgive him. Non-Christians are under no such obligation, and the injury this man has done to Christ's reputation cannot be overstated.
Embarrassment The Second: Pastor Charles Worthy Call For Homosexuals To Be Put In Camps
On May twenty-second U.S. News reported on the outrage that followed the bigoted remarks of another senior pastor. Charles Worthy called for homosexuals to rounded up and put behind gender specific fences so they could eventually die out. If the notion was not so horrible and disgusting it would be hilarious. The idea that homosexuality would cease to exist if homosexuals would just stop breeding seems to misunderstand the very nature of homosexuality. To the credit of this pastor's community, The Catawaba Valley Citizens Against Hate organised a massive peaceful protest, the sort of thing I wish Christians were more prone to do in these situations.
Embarrassment The Third: Church Gives Standing Ovations For Toddler's Hate Anthem
On May 30th NYDailyNews.com reported a disturbing viral video. The video features a toddler singing the words, “Ain't no ain't no homo gonna make it to heaven” which would be sad, but not newsworthy if not for the enthusiastic standing ovation he received from Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church of Greensburg, Indiana. The church and pastor have since received death threats and hate mail, which is shameful, though unsurprising. The fact that a church community is actively teaching it's children bigotry with such incredible enthusiasm turns the stomach. To those who would join in threatening these people, please remember that violence perpetuates such hatred, and that the Christian faith does not allow for revenge (Romans 12:19). These persons will be held accountable by God, “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck” (Mark 9:42)
Embarrassment The Fourth: Pastor Curtis Knapp Defends Remark: “Gay's Should Be Put To Death”
On May thirty-first Kansas Pastor Curtis Knapp went on CNN to defend previous remarks that the US government should execute homosexuals. You may have heard the phrase, “You may be the only Jesus someone ever meets.” This man brings that phrase home for me. I've no doubt that there are people who believe this man represents Christianity, and worse, there are people who believe this man represents Jesus Christ. He does not. Jesus spoke about men who masquerade as his servants when said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15)
Judgemental Reactions Don't Heal Judgement Inflicted Wounds
I want to be crystal clear that neither I nor anyone else except God alone knows the state of these person's souls. They may be authentic faith-filled Christians. They may have serious mental or emotional disorders. They may have been indoctrinated from childhood. I cannot know that I would grow into a temperate and loving individual if I'd been given their life circumstance and mental faculties.
Their words and actions are certainly abhorrent, but such persons, like all sinners ought to be loved patiently and forgiven readily. I ask that if you share my Christian faith, that you make every effort to actively distinguish yourself from such misrepresentations of Christ. Yet even as you dissent from them, please pray for these misguided perpetrators of evil. God speed your endeavours.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
-1 John 4:16-21