There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:18-21)
It’s always good to be part of a family, but as anyone who has ever had a sibling beat them up can tell you…some weeks are better than others. This week was not a great week for the family of God. We saw a 8-year-old Virginia girl expelled from her Christian school for being a tomboy — that is she was kicked out because her “dress and behavior” just weren’t “female enough”. On a larger scale, we saw World Vision, one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations on the planet say they were going to allow gay individuals work for the organization, only to be beat up in the evangelical blogosphere and have so many Christians stop sending money to kids that they reversed course.
You can tell a lot about the kind of God someone worships by how that person lives. We are called to be Christ in the world and live lives that reflect the priorities of Christ.
I’ll admit that the above scripture is as much a reminder for myself as it is an admonition for those who think the best way to reflect Christ’s love is to spend their time, effort, and energy demonstrating what they think Christ is against, instead of demonstrating what they know Christ is for. Because as much effort as I put into to trying to radiate the far-reaching, all-encompassing love of God, when Christians go the other way and stop feeding starving children or tell little girls they aren’t welcome because they don’t act feminine enough…I have a hard time loving those people. I know I should. I want to, I know it’s a big tent, but sometimes I struggle. (Note to the administrators at Timberlake Christian School, you may want to re-read the story of the women of Zion before you insist that feminine dress and style are what God is interested in.)
When Christians tell me they are opposed to gay marriage not out of hate but of love, I believe they are misguided, but I believe them. I’ve even stuck up for them in this regard. But I can’t find a way to see this week’s actions from parts of the family of God as a demonstration of love, by any definition of the word.
Prior to President Jimmy Carter, evangelical Christians shunned politics as corrupt, and faith was rarely mentioned by politicians. Tony Campolo likes to say that “mixing religion and politics is like mixing ice cream and horse manure, it won’t do much to the manure, but it will do a number on the ice cream.” And he’s right. Over the last 35 years, with the rise of The Moral Majority and The Christian Coalition, Christianity has borrowed from and become intertwined with politics. And one of the things these Christian political organizations learned and subsequently taught Christendom is this: it’s easier to rally people around something they disdain than something they like.
We see it year after year with political campaigns from candidates that focus not on their own virtues, but on their opponent’s lack thereof. And we see it now with the rallying of Christians against anything that even remotely looks like capitulation to gay rights, whether that’s allowing a short-haired 8-year-old girl to wear football jerseys instead of skirts, or allowing someone who is gay to hand a meal to a starving child.
Christian, let’s stop putting horse manure in our ice cream, let’s stop rallying around causes we are against, instead, let us all join together and rally to the causes we are for. When you want the Biblical model, just think of Jesus when the religious fundamentalists of His day brought him a woman caught in the act of adulatory, realize that we don’t always need to battle to find out who is more right, we can just be about loving people.