By this everyone will know…

“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…

This entry was posted in Church, Culture, God, H2O Kent, Hypocrisy, Introspection, Politics, Sexuality, Social Issues, The Bible. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to By this everyone will know…

  1. Torrie says:

    I’m just trying to understand better.. What is it about the Honeymaid commercial exactly that you are referring to as brilliant?

  2. Eric says:

    First of all, I think it’s just a well-produced, well-paced story. The visual and audio elements of the piece work well to support their narrative in a way that’s sort of subtle and sort of dramatic at the same time.

    On the conceptual level, however, I think their brilliance comes in with the way that they take “ugly” and “hateful” messages and turn them into something beautiful and meaningful. It’s Matthew 5:43-48 in a secular context. It makes the people with more “traditional family values” look simultaneously silly, sinister, and out-of-touch — yet also somehow accomplishes this without feeling mean-spirited or combative.

    Does that make sense? I’m not saying I’m totally tracking with them on their ends — but we Christians have a lot to learn from their means to those ends.

  3. Becky says:

    In today’s day and age, Christians are known as those who hate and not those who love. I wish this would change, but I do see that happening any time soon. There is the hymn, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love”. However, sadly it almost seems more appropriate to change love to hate. I am especially sensitive to the hate the LGBTQ+ or GSM (Gender, Sex, Minority) for shorter, faces. It was not that long ago that I concluded that I am in fact a part of the GSM. I started questioning my Sexuality on February 20, and I officially “came-out” identify as Bisexual on March 20.
    I have not been to a Worship Gathering or Church service since Women’s Weekend, and the last Sunday worship gathering that I attended was on February 23. I cannot physically bring myself to attend church again. I am too scared to attend anywhere, including an Open and Affirming Church. I am scared of being told that I am going to Hell, scared of being hated and scared of being kicked out, again. So in order to avoid that, I have had to stop attending church all together or at least until things calm down.
    I however, do not see things calming down anytime soon. I have been so stressed over all of this that I been questioning whether it is even worth remaining a Christian. It is not easy being a Bisexual Christian. I am not asking people to accept people of the GSM spectrum, but I am asking not to be hated for who I am. However, there is so much hatred in the Christian community against the GSM that I do not know if it is possible to be both, and I will not go back in the closet again. That is not a good place to be. The stress of questioning my faith has led me to develop stress hives that I have for three weeks now. I cannot stop stressing about this, meaning they are not going away.
    I wish the Christian Community was more about love and not hatred, however, I do not see that changing, at least anytime soon. Which means that in order to avoid the hate, I have to quit being a part of the community, as it is not safe.

  4. Eric says:

    I appreciate your comment, Becky. I’m guessing it was difficult to write.

    As a person who deals with this on a very intimate, personal level: How would you differentiate between (using your phrasing here) “not asking people to accept people of the GSM spectrum” and “asking not to be hated for who I am?” That is: How can there be respectful dialogue about differences in our views without crossing into that territory of making anyone feel alienated, rejected, and/or hated?

    Would it help you to know that I’m not at all surprised by the fact that you’ve come out as bisexual? I may have even suspected it before you did! But I have been — and still am — friends with you. There was no — and is no — hate towards you. I tend to feel that our community should present no concern regarding your safety. Still I cannot question the legitimacy of your feelings in that direction. Any perspective you could provide would be appreciated.

  5. Eric says:

    Oh, and Torrie — I just realized that I posted the wrong YouTube clip! That’s probably why you were so confused! I’ve fixed it now. Originally, it was just the 30 second spot that inspired the second piece to which I was referring (and have now posted, as originally intended).

  6. Becky says:

    Thanks Eric. It was difficult to write.

    I differentiate the two on the level of respect that people are given. If someone believes that marriage should only be between a Man and a Woman, or that a marriage is for children, that is fine, I am not going to tell them that their beliefs are wrong; to them, their beliefs are correct. I am willing to talk to people about their beliefs, so that I can get an understanding on why they believe what they believe and say to why I believe what I believe. If the conversation ends with us agreeing to disagree, then the conversation was a success and hopefully no feelings were hurt. There is always the chance, and that is why I am scared. I keep thinking back to everything that Brad had gone through and his story, and what he had gone through. If you do not know Brad’s coming-out story, I can tell you, he is okay with it being shared, but just not on here.

    On issues like this, it can be difficult to have a respectful dialogue there is the immediate fear of being alienated, rejected, and/or hated, especially if it has already had to the person before. The important thing is for both parties to try to have as open of a mind as possible, and to be willing to listen to the other party. Both parties can and will be sensitive and that needs to be realized. In addition, if something painful is said, it is important to apologize. Asking questions is a good thing, and you are unsure if you should ask a question, first ask it to yourself and if you would not feel comfortable answering that, then the other person probably would not either. If you have a question that you have to ask, but you are scared that it might be seen as hurtful, tell the person that. Tell them that if they do not want to answer it they do not have to, or if it is hurtful, they are welcome to tell you. Coming in with an open mind and being willing to listen, can help avoid a lot of pain.

    It does to know that you are not surprised, from what I gathered, most people knew well before I did. Thank you for remaining friends and not hating me, that truly means a lot. It is not likely that something will happen to me within this community, but I have already had to experience some rather harsh, let’s call it “tough love” by Christians since I have come-out. Because of that, I feel that it is in my best interest to not attend any church services for a while, at least until things calm down.

    If you want to talk with me more about this, feel free to message me on Facebook, or send me an email. I am more than willing to share my experience and to give more of an insight from some of friend’s experience, including what happened with Brad and his former church.

  7. Eric says:

    Thanks for sharing more of your perspective, Becky. I appreciate the invitation to talk more on a personal level, and I look forward to the opportunity to do that at some point in the future.

Comments are closed.