I love Jesus, but sometimes I curse a little when others who follow the Bible open their mouths. I tried to avoid the Duck Dynasty controversy. It’s Christmas. I want to celebrate Jesus’ birth with cookies, carols, children and cheesy Christmas movies. I don’t want to enter into yet another stressful discussion on what the Bible is and isn’t ‘clearly’ against. But, I’m so appalled by the knee-jerk reactions I see in my own kind that I can’t sleep and can’t keep silent.
First of all, while I have heard of Duck Dynasty, I have never seen it. Oh, no high-horse, holier-than-thou reason. We don’t have cable/satellite. I also have only read the articles about the GQ article that has created so much diatribe on both sides. Honestly, I don’t care what Phil Robertson said. He gets to have his beliefs. I’m more concerned with the vehemence that christians seem to defend him–at the expense of those whom they claim need to turn from wickedness.
So, here are just a few of the things that (once again) we christians have missed:
- Homosexuality is unnatural. *sigh* Will we ever get over ourselves? The vast majority of the people who say that being gay isn’t ‘natural’ are heterosexuals. According to Medical Science News, homosexuality occurs in more than 1500 species. Apparently, dwarf chimpanzees (which are considered close relatives to humans) are all bisexual. The entire species. So, perhaps we can say that homosexuality isn’t ‘common’ in human beings. Statistically, that’s true and doesn’t carry the same connotation that ‘unnatural’ does. For those that insist that we continue to call out ‘unnatural’ behaviors, please remember that Jesus lived his life, and taught us to live ours, quite un-naturally. Living sacrificially, loving our enemies, the whole concept of grace, living selflessly, turning the other cheek, the Sermon on the Mount, forgiving those who oppress all run against human nature.
- Only christians are oppressed. *sigh* We do have a persecution complex. We find persecution behind every corner. We rarely take responsibility for what we say or do that has more to do with us acting unkindly or saying offensive things. We often claim persecution as a badge of honor, so we proclaim things in the name of ‘truth’ that have little to do with anything of God’s heart. We want to live as martyrs (of course, we don’t admit that publicly). We want the glory that God promises to those who suffer for their faith, so we often create our own ‘persecution’, when we’re really just being Pharisees. Christianity has enjoyed privilege and power in this country. We abused that privilege and power by trying to force all others into our interpretation of the Bible (which, by the way, ensured our privilege and power). What we experience now is closer to the American Revolution, Civil War, Women’s Rights or Civil Rights Movement–the powerless and under-privileged saying, ‘ENOUGH.’
- The Bible clearly states…. *sigh* 6 verses. Only 6. The whole Bible contains over 31,000 verses. We focus on the 6 that, taken in historical and cultural context, are anything but clear. I know very few people who claim to be christians that volunteer at soup kitchens, take in orphans, advocate for domestic abuse victims, visit prisoners and AIDS patients. There are over 300 verses on poverty. According to well-known financial speaker, Dave Ramsey, there are 800 verses that tell us how to use our money. But we draw a line in the sand over 6 verses. While ignoring the thousands of verses about how to treat powerless and underprivileged people. *sigh*
- The Bible clearly does not state…. *sigh* I’ve begun to hear this argument more and more. The Bible does not have any examples of homosexual relationships, that’s true. However, it seems that we have adopted this line of thinking because the-Bible-clearly-states-in-6-out-of-31,000-verses line of thinking has become a joke. The-Bible-clearly-does-not-state is also flimsy, at best. The Bible is silent on the use of modern technology, corporate monopolies, political democracy, capitalism, birth control pills and much in the way of modern medical research. We cannot develop firm doctrine based on what the Bible does not say.
- Sin focusses on behavior; therefore, God focusses on behavior. *sigh* Jesus never focussed on behavior. Every instance that I’ve seen in the Gospels, Jesus does a face-palm when his disciples or religious leaders try to define ‘sin’ as someone’s behavior. God, even in the Old Testament, mentions behavior, but the emphasis is on how that behavior represents our hearts. People can do all the right things and still miss the mark (one definition of ‘sin’). The rich young ruler found that out when he interacted with Jesus (Mark 10).
We have missed the mark. In trying to live perfect ‘christian’ lives, we have isolated ourselves and damaged the credibility of Jesus and his Good News. It should shame us when we preach a message that drives people away from Jesus–when we preach a gospel that doesn’t make people gasp in astonishment and cry, ‘Heresy’ or ‘Blasphemy.’ A gospel that alienates prostitutes, tax collectors … minorities, the powerless, the shamed.
Ah, but all is not lost. Jesus promised that if we are silent, ‘the very stones would cry out.’ His message, God’s heart, will continue with or without us. Our attitudes cannot stop God’s grace. I cannot stop God’s grace–even when I communicate His heart imperfectly.
As we celebrate Jesus’ birth and end our calendar year, may we proclaim the true Gospel, His Good News, that Jesus came to bring wholeness and unite us back to God!