“Je – sus – Christ! Je – sus – Christ! Je – sus – Christ!” The chant rang out over the radio, with the same cadence and tone of Ohio State University students showing their school spirit with a round of “Lets – go – Bucks!” I thought I had tuned in to National Public Radio, so I looked down at the radio to make sure I hadn’t dialed in a Christian radio station instead. Sure enough, though, the chant was coming through 89.7 FM, the local NPR affiliate: “Je – sus – Christ! Je – sus – Christ! Je – sus – Christ!”
I turned up the volume and listened for the back-story. The repetitive chant was a recording from a meeting of the Massachusetts State Legislature (presumably from a few years back): Christian protesters publicly expressing their dissatisfaction with a move to allow same-sex marriage in their state. The context was a story about a woman named Mary Banauto and her last decade of advocacy in favor of same-sex marriage. So, of course, the “Je – sus – Christ!” chant was a nod to the conflict and controversy which Banauto encountered along the way. We Christians were playing our familiar role: taking exception at everything: anti-abortion, anti-equality, anti-evolution… We Christians are excepters. Excluders. Haters.
We are attempting to operate from a biblical world-view in this, of course, and I believe this is commendable. Sometimes, however, I worry that we’re missing the proverbial forest for the trees.
The night Jesus was betrayed and taken away to be crucified, he gave his followers a direct imperative to forge an identity for themselves by way of love. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). He set the example in dealing with the “freaks” and “outsiders” of his day. The differences could be ethnic, sexual, financial, religious… It didn’t matter. Jesus was a friend of all sorts (Matthew 11:19). If anyone earned his ire and antagonism, in fact, it was the religious folks — but even in those cases, Jesus didn’t confront his opponents with political action or chanted protests. Overwhelmingly, Jesus’ life and death were marked by love. And that’s supposed to be our template! “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Love is meant to be our calling card, yet we seem to have veered off course.
Have you seen the Honey Maid video about the reaction to their “This is Wholesome” campaign? It’s really quite brilliant…
This all makes me wonder: How are we Christians to deal with this schism between our God-given identity as lovers and our cultural-cred as haters? How do we wave the banner of Love in public debates such as the Marriage Equality movement? How do we follow Jesus’ example of Love?
I don’t have all the answers — but I believe the questions are a good place to start…