There are moments in life where a truth can be so impacting it changes you forever—unhinging, transforming, and recalibrating nearly everything you once understood and believed.
I used to be a conservative, Evangelical, homophobic, sexist, racist, judgmental and spiritually arrogant pastor and person. In nearly every way, I was much the opposite of all that I am, hope to be, and stand for today. No, I didn’t have a child that came out as being gay or some moral failure or personal crisis that shook my foundations. The reversal of my heart and mind, and the dethroning of my bigotry, hate, privilege, and conservatism came solely from being confronted by the true nature of God, the pure message of Jesus, and the revelation of His heart and mind towards all humanity.
To think that I saw color where there is none to see—a choice in sexual orientation where there is no choice to be. To think that gender ever mattered in calling, gifting, or creed—seeing women as some lessor form of a human being. To think that I condemned in the name of Jesus where there was no Jesus condemning—ignorant of my white privilege that blinded my perspective and deafened me to the real voices crying around me. To think that I loved with restrictions, restraint, and conditions—believed I had exclusive possession of all that is Truth to the exclusion of any other perspective or position. To think that I embraced a life and faith lacking in true compassion—leaving God-imaged people marginalized, discriminated, abused, alone, and undefended. To think that I lived and proclaimed it all as faith, faithfulness, and the way, Truth, and life—I am ashamed. Not just ashamed—disgusted.
Look at what many of us white, Christian, heterosexual, and privileged people have largely become—not all of us, but many—not always intentionally, but in sure reality. The Jesus-grieving sins of racism, sexism, discrimination, legalism, elitism, and condemnation are increasingly normalized, and even spiritualized as faithfulness. We have elected a childish, pussy-grabbing, womanizing, immoral, misogynistic, and xenophobic president—touting him as a kind of God-appointed savior of our country. Where our nationalistic, social, and political pursuits clearly conflict with the ways of Jesus, not to mention basic human ethics and morality, we conveniently turn a blind eye, and all of a sudden the “clear teachings of the Bible” aren’t so clear anymore and the compartmentalization of our faith becomes a worthy and important practice—smoke and mirrors were never so smokey and distracting. Still to this day, we harbor racism, act on it, and even spiritual justify it, not to mention sexism—all while ironically declaring ourselves to be the well from which genuine spiritual maturity flows. We can’t even stop the religious machine we have created long enough to seek true understanding in what it’s really like to not be white-skinned, heterosexual, Christian, privileged, or male—if only we knew how to listen as well as we know how to lean on and worship our own understandings. When a transgender person commits suicide at the hands of Christian condemnation, it’s like we don’t even pump the breaks or give a thought to reevaluating our faith understanding or position—arrogantly convinced we hold all the keys. Everyone else is always wrong and we are always right. Everyone else’s sin is destined for hell and ours is magically forgiven—thank God we believed the right things, said the right prayers, and made the right changes. Aren’t we all just so special.
While perhaps you are feeling oh-so special, I am feeling oh-so ashamed.
In fact, if this is what it means to be white, I don’t want to be “white” anymore.
If this is what it means to be Christian, I don’t want to be seen as “Christian” anymore.
If this is what it means to be heterosexual, privileged, or even American—you can have it all.
For Jesus flips the tables yet again, revealing that we, in our undeniable worship of being white, heterosexual, Christian, American, and privileged are actuality the ones who have become the deplorable abomination. The finger pointers and speck removers are once again revealed to be the log possessors whose preoccupation with changing the world for Christ has left us tragically unaware of our own Christ-less soul.
Against this I must stand, turning shame for all that I had believed wrongly about God, Jesus, and people into an unstoppable solidarity with all that God has created good, beautiful, whole, and affirmed.
This is my resistance, this is my manifesto.
In the footsteps of Jesus, I’m a human that affirms all humans.
I’m a white man who sees as equal every shade of color and gender.
I’m a heterosexual that affirms every other kind of “sexual” rooted in honesty, love, and committed relationship.
I gladly surrender my privilege and tear off the “Christian” name tag.
I will no longer join hands nor heart with a faith understanding that fights against so much of what Jesus embraces.
I refuse to love, accept, and affirm any less than God who is pure Love, affirms, accepts, and loves me.
For I am no better than any other—only different.
This is true of all people.
Grace and Truth has made it so.
All are loved, equally and beautifully made—each a masterpiece, eternally valued and secured.
I will be forever brave on behalf of the “least of these,” proudly counting myself as equal among them, and manifest the delight of Jesus who is eternally proud to live, serve, sacrifice, and call them friend—as am I.
Ashamed, I am no less. Brave, I am, all the more.
Grace is brave. Be Brave.