So as I continue to struggle to find the path of authentic Christianity in today’s culture, my mind often bounces from point to point within postmodernity. Why are Evangelicals largely in favor of “big military” and even military preemption, but ardently against abortion? Why are evangelicals largely against wealth redistribution? If the evangelical church lives in the grace of the new covenant, why are they largely in favor of carte blanche support of Israel? What percentage of mega church budgets are allocated towards missions relative to facility maintenance and upkeep? Why is there an Evangelical outcry against homosexuality, but hardly anything said on the divorce rates within their own community or children born out of wedlock? How has the Republican political party actually served the Evangelical community relative to the advancement of Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and ascension? Where is the compassion of Christ within Evangelical politics?
I try to avoid politics in the media these days, but I get enough incidental news to know what the Evangelical community is against. What I seem to be missing are the talking points on what the Evangelical community politically supports. And what I wish I saw was an evangelical community offering a better way of life and living through the redemptive atonement of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Here’s my simple observation. To the extent that the evangelical community allows others to define the rhetoric within our culture, that is the extent to which the Evangelical movement will be ineffective. And in some cases, the Evangelical community loads their own gun and extends it to the secular world for target practice—business end aimed at the targets tattooed on our own Pharisetical foreheads.
So let’s use homophobic chickens as exhibit A. Was that whole ordeal a “win” relative to the case for Christ? And if so, how? I think we can all agree, at the very least, that the entire incident was an opportunity. But to be honest, I’m failing to see how any yardage was gained. On the Evangelical side of the fence, there was an unprecedented show of support and solidarity for a chicken sandwich that unapologetically defined marriage per scripture. As for the secular side, the rhetoric was often defined with the following logic: “If you don’t agree with us, you’re electing to limit our freedom. If you elect to limit our freedom, you must hate us; if you hate us, you are homophobic.” The battlefield was created: sanctity of scripture vs. marital equality. And everything that followed was about as effective as an internet flame war.
The Evangelical community was given an excellent opportunity to demonstrate truth with grace and love; but such a result is impossible to execute when there is a failure to “listen, listen, love, love.” So what did we learn?
Mistake #1: We did not listen.
Does the Evangelical community even appreciate the rationale why the gay community is seeking marriage? Do our claims that gay marriage will “legitimize the sin” or our claims that it will lead to a “slippery slope before men start marrying trees” argument truly advance the cause of Christ? How can the evangelical community reconcile the following reality:
(a) Issues of inheritance, property deeds and general financial security of those in the homosexual community. If the greater income earner dies first, the lesser income earner may have some tough challenges ahead, as there is no direct mechanism of property inheritance or property transfer (i.e., dual ownership relative to property deeding). Does the evangelical community feel comfortable ignoring this reality?
(b) Hospital Visitation. It is my understanding that laws are such that hospital visitation may be limited or disallowed amongst gay couples. Does the evangelical community feel comfortable ignoring this reality?
It is my opinion that both of these concerns are exceedingly valid, and that the all-too-common reaction of “enjoy the consequences of your sin” may not be all that beneficial either to the cause of Christ or those to which we ought minister. Bear in mind, even as you consider what I just said, that there are other examples of oft-overlooked civil issues that are beyond the scope of this posting. So ask yourself, is the evangelical community aware of and appreciative of the civil consequences that are indirectly associated with the intersection between legal and religious marriage? Have we listened?
Mistake #2: We lost our priorities.
Can someone please explain to me how a “Chic fil A Appreciation Day” advances the cause of Christ? Rather than reach out to the world that (we claim to profess) needs Christ, we reached out to our own with a national pep-rally, yielding an unprecedented outpouring of homophobic chicken profit. Loss of yards, folks. In this case, it’s my opinion that Huckabee played right into a scheme of the Evil One. Far better would it have been if he have proposed a “Make a Friend, Give a Sandwich” campaign as a means to take command of the rhetoric and express truth, love and grace to the world. We could have disarmed the world with our love and the message of a better way. Instead, we armed them with clearly defined battle lines, clear rhetoric, and ownership of some issues that an intellectually honest evangelical cannot easily answer. So we moved the political agenda at the expense of what?
Mistake #3: We did not love.
We did not listen to the cry of others. We chose to prioritize our own over the lives of others. And we chose not to invest in the lives of others. All that homophobic chicken money…where did it go? Since the day of our national pep rally, have we spent an ounce of effort to listen, love, and share the truth of Christ with those that we functionally ignore? Who did we honor? The Father who sent his Son to die in our stead, or the golden calf of partisanship.
As for myself, I am a sinner who is in grave need of my savior. I have a visceral understanding that sin separates us from our Father, and that the consequence of sin is suffering. I also know that Jesus Christ provided me with a better way of life, and to the extent that I die to myself, I can live as an effective tool of the Most High. And while I do not pretend to be as well versed as I should in areas in which I profess to believe, I can point to scripture where: (a) Jesus defined the boundaries; (b) Jesus commanded the rhetoric; and (c) Jesus fought with love. So I’m just sitting here wondering if the evangelical community is attempting to do the same.
So what sayeth you? Did you bunker down with a mega church mentality—which just may serve “gay Starbucks coffee” and has a self-sustaining nature that is only a few assault rifles short of a compound? Or do you believe there is a better (dare I say more authentic) way to serve God and share the message of Christ? Who are we listening to? Who are we prioritizing? Who are we loving?