Tag: privilege

The Coming American Civil War

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” -Ephesians 6:12

One would be hard pressed to find a single battle in all of history that wasn’t fought without some level of declared spiritual rationale. Sadly, throughout the ages, pronouncements of Christian faith have been used to pound the drums of violence. Many who profess to be followers of Jesus have claimed God’s anointing to engage in wars and acts of aggression that they believe are necessary to cleanse society of its evils. The world has been watching, documenting, and increasingly connecting the dots of Christian-driven hatred—now, like never before.

As the appearance of being shrouded in righteousness and divine faithfulness can be convincing to the untrained eye, nothing is more deceptive than the spiritual rationalization of violent acts that are ultimately motivated by the desire for power and privilege. Underneath the convenient veil of biblical faithfulness and divine sanction, selfishness, greed, and supremacy are often the true desires lurking in the shadows of those who would turn to Jesus for the justification of their aggression. For nothing speaks of privilege like the condemning, enslaving, or killing of another in order to further one’s faith system. What has been transpiring in church-ladened communities across America for decades is now being manifested on a national scale. In the name of Christianity, oceans of emotional, spiritual, and even physical blood have been shed in an effort to assert their brand of freedom upon countless people who are, in essence, already free.

In fact, for many Christians, their faith is rooted upon the premise that there is an enemy that needs to conquered, a divine prosperity that is there’s for the taking, and an inferior world that needs to be converted. For them, there is an underlying belief that they are “set apart” from the rest of society by God Himself. Therefore, their mission is to engage the world in such a way that their own prosperity is realized, the enemy is defeated, and the world is either converted or condemned. In fact, acts of Christian “mission,” though appearingly noble, are often a means to a self-serving end—that is, the conversion of people into their faith system and the correlating stroke of their spiritual egos upon success.

Combined with a white, heterosexual, male-driven privilege intrinsic to much of global society (especially America and European countries), Christianity has long become the spiritual rationale-of-choice for those who desire the fruition of white male heterosexual power and privilege. With a brand of Christianity that declares the Bible infallible and their interpretations uniquely faithful to its “clear teachings,” right wing conservative Christianity offers an additional level of spiritually rationalized control and power over people.

This toxic diabolical concoction of Jesus-justified savagery can be seen no more clearly than what has become of much of American Christianity. From the rape of the American Indian to the slavery of black people. From the brutal condemnation of the LGBTQ community to the discrimination of women and minorities, a white male heterosexual lust for power and privilege has long hijacked the person and cause of Jesus to spiritually justify their creeds of greed. In fact, intended or not, right wing conservative Christianity has now become nothing less than an incubator for a tacit white supremacy that desires to commandeer the world. Search the vaults of historical fact and there you will find, it is not the average citizen who is leading the way in these atrocities against humanity, but rather pastors, Christians, and communities of faith, all in the name of Jesus and the Bible. From sea to shining sea, right wing conservative Christianity has been the spiritual lense through which many have rationalized their acts of dominance and destruction. Thankfully, the cat is out of the bag as a great awakening is rising from the depths. The evils of right-wing conservative Christianity are being chased out of the shadows–the elixir is wearing off and the deception is being dragged into the light.

Now, a perfect storm of human terrorism cloaked as Christian faithfulness has emerged onto the scene of our American journey. Inflamed by the presidency of Donald Trump and their concerns over an increasingly vocal and organized resistance, right wing conservative Christianity has reached a boiling point unprecedented in history. From voices like Alex Jones of Infowars to Sean Hannity of Fox News, the dogs of war are barking with an emboldened sense of empowerment from their growing base. In fact, for some, their aspirations are nothing less than the ushering in of Armageddon where they believe God has promised to defeat their enemies and cleanse the world of all that does not conform to their ideology. With 70% of the murders committed by domestic extremists stemming from right-wing influences, the line between what is considered mainstream and the fringe is increasingly becoming blurred. Sadly, it seems that right wing conservative Christianity is not far removed from translating the pages of Old Testament scenes of God-sanctioned violence into the real-life tragedy of our near future. In response, segments of liberal resistance have trumpeted their willingness to do battle if necessary, some even taking a bold initiative. The age old question of “who started it?” becomes mute in the context of the long historical trail of leatherbound terrorism spiritually rationalized by right wing religious conservatism. To be sure, growing numbers on both sides seem ready to take off the gloves—one side desiring further dominance and the protection of their privilege, the other defending human dignity and the rights and freedoms that are intrinsic.   

For this is the underlying plot behind ever battle. This is the path that led to the cross. This was the provocation behind our first American civil war—religiously rationalized human oppression versus true human equality and freedom. An ancient conflict of the spiritual realm is now coming to fruition on American soil once again.  

Sadly, it seems as if there is no way to avoid it—each side emboldened to their cause. I fear a new American civil war is on the horizon. This time, it will not be north versus south, or even left versus right. Instead, it will be Christianity versus Jesus, the Kingdom of religion versus the Kingdom of Grace, the human oppression of some versus human equality for all, the way of violence versus the way of peace, the exclusion of some versus the inclusion of all, and a god who punishes versus the God who is Love. For this is a war of ultimate truth with seemingly irreconcilable differences at the core.

Unfortunately, these battles have already begun in the homes, schools, streets, cubicles, courtrooms, computers, churches, televisions, social media outlets, and halls of America. We are a people and a nation divided at the marrow of who and whose we are. True evil is being exposed from the caverns of religious disguise, and true resistance is finding its wings through the bravery of Grace.

The truth is, the coming American civil war is already here. Who knows to what level the battle will further rise and consume us all. One thing is for sure, our future is in the balance like never before.

Come what may, it is my prayer that as the religious oppressor draws the sword and summons their ranks for battle, the lovers of true freedom and equality will faithfully endure and boldly resist with a refusal to become the evil done against them—just like Jesus.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

What So Many Really Want To Say To American Christianity

To be sure, there are good people doing good things within American Christianity. Not everyone has taken the message and cause of Jesus and raped them of their unconditional love, beauty, and purity of Grace.

Yet sadly, much of American Christianity, as well intentioned as it may be, has largely become a religious machine of institutional self-preservation, self-righteousness, condemnation, and power-seduced privilege—some, not aware of the evil in which they participate.

In its wake, there is a disillusionment and disgust that has long been building in the caverns of many a soul. With the full capacity of discernment, countless have tasted and seen that what has become of much of American Christianity is not good, not good at all.

Despite the aggressive efforts within significant segments of American Christianity to minimize, discredit, and demonize these voices of dissent, good people everywhere aren’t fooled by the slick circus show of American Christianity with its endless maze of funhouse mirrors. They see the dark fruits growing on the tree, requiring very few brain cells to discern their obvious evil.

Perhaps, what is most challenging and elusive along this journey through religious darkness is the permission and freedom to be fully enraged, and the words to express it. Most resolve that the problem is somehow within themselves, what they feel must be wrong, or it’s a useless endeavor to resist and hope for change. In the end, many remain largely silent or extremely careful with their words, intimidated by the Death Star that has become of much of American Christianity.

Yet, there is a new level of urgency that has been thrusted upon our time. A spiritual civil war is emerging that is threatening the very foundations of our nation and all of humanity at large. There is no more time for squabbling over messages of “deconstruction” by those who wish to carve out some kind of “higher” ground and rationalize their lack of courage. There is no time for tone-policing the truth of people who have suffered in the concentration camps of religiosity. There is no time for feathery fantasies of long tables filled with conceding conversations. There is no more time for declaring peace where there is no peace as much we might desire its full fruition. There is only time for truth, and truth doing whatever it will wherever it lands. Either the Gospel of pure Grace faithfully reflects the complete heart of Jesus, His ways, and all the ramifications thereof, or it does not. With a religious conservatism that vehemently seeks to rule the world and a progressive passivism that might just allow it, there has been perhaps no more important time in all of history for the bravery of unbridled evil-confronting Grace to find its voice and to speak it loudly without restraint.

Dear American Christianity, this is what so many of us really want to say to you…

“Stop Being So Damn Selfish”– Whether it’s your intention or not, it truly feels likes everything about Jesus has become all about you. In fact, the average American church spends 75% of its budget on staff and buildings, and 80% of its time and energy on self-serving endeavors that ultimately benefit their own sustainment. If Jesus applied that same formula to His ministry, He would have never made it the cross, let alone out of the manger. Sadly, in most congregations, self-preservation and institutional success is the pendulum from which decisions are weighed and rationalized. Nearly everything about American Christianity speaks of a self-serving desire to franchise Jesus and build exclusive clubs with crosses on top. In both progressive and conservative circles, pastors and leaders dream of ministry fame, book deals, speaking engagements, conference presentations, Facebook shares, Twitter retweets, and overall personal ministry empire building–many of whom will steal, kill, and destroy in order to build and protect their throne of popularity. For others, the consumer-driven nature of American Christianity has forced them to spend their time and attention on keeping church people happy, entertained, and committed to their ministry, lest they hop to a better show down the street and jeopardize their future.

Yet sadly, the moments when we do finally see you serving altruistically beyond your own interests, it still feels like it’s all about you. From photo-ops posted on Facebook holding babies from third world countries, to emotionally crafted and carefully placed video clips during worship to display your good deeds in the community. From tales of late night prayer meetings where you “win” people into the Kingdom, to your public declarations of your “radical” living for Jesus. From the unique niche and brand that you have created for your personal ministry, to your self-promotion of everything you are doing for the Kingdom. Every light you seem to shine into the darkness has a way of ultimately swinging the attention back onto you. For Christ’s sake, can’t you just serve for the sake of serving without any fanfare, Facebook pics, name-dropping, attention seeking, slick branding, empire building, or the hoisting of trophies won as you play the never ending game of Christian competition?   

“Your Worship Is Empty”- In fact, it’s not only empty, it’s thoroughly insulting. Insulting to God, insulting to Jesus, and insulting to humanity. Have you ever considered that perhaps God desperately tires of all your singing, repenting, preaching, praying, and staged spirituality, especially when hours upon hours of ritual rarely lead to a minute of seeing you in true worship through genuinely serving, loving, and extending pure Grace unconditionally to anyone and everyone who is willing. I think God gets it—you love Him and He loves you too. Great, congratulations—now what the hell are you going to do about it? The truth is, God doesn’t need your dressed-up Sunday morning gatherings, so why is it alarmingly apparent that you can’t live without them? Perhaps, it’s all become a spiritual veil to an empty life. For all the effort, time, and resources you put into it, I wonder if an offering wasn’t taken from the crowd you’ve gathered, would it be such a big deal to you? Besides, when do we get to sing the hymn, “God I Hate You Right Now, Life Is So Depressing?” Let me guess, that probably wouldn’t be good for business, and besides, how could you ever program the right mood-lighting? When do we get to feed the poor, clothe the naked, affirm the condemned, protect the minorities, rage against the religious spirit, and stand with those discriminated–not as a side item on your spiritual menu, but the main thing? When do we get to love people unconditionally without fine print, restrictions, or fear-pedaling? When do we get to stop trying to convince God we love Him, but instead, spend our time convincing the world they are loved, affirmed, and included? When do we get to stop erecting and maintaining buildings to hide in, and start seeing all the world as our sanctuary and loving people unconditionally as our worship? Quite frankly, ask around, it doesn’t matter about your style nor flavor of liturgy, so much of your worship seems completely superfluous—all leading to the sermon where you weigh me down with formulas for life improvement and God-appeasement, and then ask me for my offering and energy so we can hop back on this religious treadmill again next week. Listen to the Spirit moving among you—staged spirituality is out, and true worship through sacrificial service, unconditional love, human affirmation, and pure Grace extending is in. Not just in, but the only thing that matters—especially to Jesus.        

“I’m Not Your Spiritual Bitch”- Every time you try to turn me into your personal Chia Pet for Jesus through growing me into a “fully devoted follower of Christ” who believes and acts like you, every gag reflex in my body violently begins twitching, and it’s all I can do to keep myself from kneeling into a full body vomit. With all due love and respect, while I appreciate your efforts, I don’t need you to save me, especially from the god of your faith understanding who tortures people forever in hell simply because they didn’t follow the proper codes for loving him back in return. The more you see me as a problem to be solved, a project to complete, and a mission to fulfill, the more your image of Jesus shows itself to be filled with far more of you and far less of Him. In fact, your leatherbound terrorism of proof texts, clobber passages, claims of inerrancy, and the weaponizing of Scripture has only served to convince me that you are devoid of the cure and filled with the cancer. I don’t want to be a part of your club, denomination, or Christian supremacy. The way I see it, there is enough useless division and inequality in the world, and to me, it’s a sin the way you use Jesus to foster it. So, you can take all your accountability partners, incense ladenned sanctuaries, and crusades to save the “lost,” I refuse to become enslaved by the tyranny you are wielding upon the earth. When I see that your faith is about unconditional Love from the Father through the Son, from the beginning to the end, maybe, just maybe, I’ll want to sign up. Until then, I’m not your spiritual bitch. Never have been, never will be.

“Zip Up, Your Privilege Is Showing” With every ounce of praise and worship you sing towards our lying, adulterous, carnal, bullying, and pubescent President. With every push for the nationalization of your faith ideology. With every white, male, heterosexual demonization and condemnation of minorities and those you deem to be sinning. With every spiritual rationalization of greed, discrimination, and inequality, your addiction to power and privilege is showing, not Jesus.

With every grip you refuse to loosen upon the guns you worship at the bloodied sacrificial altar of our children. With every segregated church service on Sunday morning. With every denial of the equal calling, value, and gifting of women. With every mission trip that serves your interests more than truly serving the needs of others. With every committee purposed on reaching the “lost” through your Christian supremacy, your privilege is showing, not Jesus.  

Stop complaining that the world can’t see Christ when you’re the one standing in the way.

For what’s most certainly clear from the shadow you cast upon the earth is this—it’s not about sin, it’s not about Jesus, and it’s not about extending a Kingdom of unconditional love and Grace. For you, it’s about the fruition of your white, male, heterosexual power and privilege disguised as the ministry of Jesus.  

“Get Your Shit Together Or Close Up Shop” The time has come, there’s too much at stake. People are dying, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sadly, any light you bring to the planet is being eclipsed by your dark religious blanket. If you aren’t willing to reboot your entire system of faith, then power down altogether for Christ’s sake. The truth is, you have become much more of the problem and an antagonist of the solution. For when there is no turning the Titanic around, perhaps it’s better to send it sinking to the bottom. 

If anyone needs to be sidelined until their repentance is louder than their sin. If anyone needs to choke on a good swallow of their own medicine. If anyone’s tree should be laid bare to the stump. If anyone needs to kneel down at the altar of recommitment, it’s you—American Christianity, it’s you.

You are the wolf in sheep’s clothing. You are the Judas reclined at the table. You are the Herod whose addiction to power would kill the person of Jesus. You are the Jezebel whose greed and desire for domination is insatiable. You are the demon dressed as an innocent angel. You are the Ephesus that has fallen from Grace. You are the white-washed tombs that reddened Jesus’ face.

This is why we rage, this is why we cry.

This is why refuse to be silent.

This is why we will not comply.

American Christianity, this is what so many of us want to say.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

  

 

Dear World, President Trump Is Not Us, Not Even Close

You read the papers, watch the news, see the tweets, and survey the online reporting—it’s all too easy to conclude that we have elected nothing less than insanity for our President, and we have become an insane people. For so long, an imperialistic arrogance has plagued the political and religious halls of our country. And now, gasoline has been poured upon the flames of our greed by the privileged power-hungry imposter of patriotism we call our President, scorching our entire nation, from sea to shining sea, with every perverted puff from the nostrils of this orange-haired dragon.

We don’t blame you for harboring serious disdain and concern for our country and its current leadership—in fact, we share it. Yet, it is our deepest hope that you will gaze beyond the political circus show that imprisons our nation and discover there are many of us who join in your disgust, tenfold. We are the resistance that is putting hand to plow in hopes of moving our country to become a nation of renewed decency, true freedom, cultural diversity, religious pluralism, social compassion, global humility, diplomatic maturity, and human equality. In fact, know this and know this for sure, Trump is not us, not even close—his character, values, attitudes, and loyalties are nothing like the marrow that fills our hearts and compels our souls.

Instead, we are a people who love creation and desire to protect our environment for generations to come, even to the curbing of economic prosperity. Our unwillingness to compromise the health of our planet for political and financial gain, we believe, is a critical value necessary for the future of all living things. Unfortunately, our President and his political allies are willing to rape our environment for personal, financial, and economic gain. To that end, he and his administration have censored climate change websites, downsized two national monuments for the purpose of oil and gas exploration, cut funding to climate and clean energy programs, and withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Change agreement. With an insatiable appetite for economic prosperity and a blatant disregard for scientific fact regarding the environmental demise of our planet, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe violence doesn’t solve problems nor create solutions, and the military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower warned and President Kennedy resisted has now become a rampant driving force within our government and right-wing religious circles, resulting in the unnecessary brutal destruction of many through war, oppression, and injustice. We reject the public possession of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, and if necessary, allowing only for those firearms that require a separate human action to reload. We believe that the safety of our fellow human being, especially children, takes the highest priority over any political and financial allegiances to the NRA or such entities that profit from weapons or the idolization of their use. We declare with boldness and accuracy that our undeniable national gun problem cannot be solved with more guns, especially in the hands of school teachers. We recognize the importance of our Second Amendment rights, but understand James Madison’s intention to allow “the people” as a whole (a well-regulated state militia) to bear arms, not every individual. Unfortunately, our president and his political allies believe violence and its threat are the quickest and surest way to gain and protect power and privilege. To that end, he and his administration have approved a $400 billion budget that sharply increases military spending at the expense of the federal deficit and important programs that protect and serve our society, particularly the underprivileged and less fortunate. With a willingness and desire to cut or significantly reduce spending for the National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Housing and Urban Development, NASA, EPA, Meals on Wheels, SNAP,  USDA, Education, and Health and Human Services, Trump and his supporters show their depraved lack of human compassion for the most vulnerable among us and an addiction to power for the privileged. With a clear willingness to abandon human life for the sake of protecting and prospering white male right-wing domination, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe God created all of humanity equal in dignity, worth, and value as we fiercely reject all forms of racism, discrimination, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and every type of inherent demonization. Our country has long been purposed on being a sanctuary of refuge for the refugee, opportunity for the immigrant, and equal hope and dignity for the minority and the most vulnerable among us. To that end, we believe in meaningful protection from those who would enter our country for the purpose of inflicting harm. Yet, we also refuse to conclude that our desire for safety prevents nor restricts us from affording human compassion, patience, appropriate leniency, and a realistic and accessible pathway to citizenship for any and all of those who desire to call our country home. We believe that the complexity of immigration and its surrounding issues should lead, not to the creation of bigger walls and callous systems, but to the rise of a greater people whose hearts are convinced that a country that does not joyfully, graciously, and passionately extend its freedoms to all is not a free country after all. For the protection of privilege is the enemy of true liberty. Thus, we vehemently oppose the discrimination of any people group based on skin color, nationality, gender identification, social economic status, or sexual orientation. We are a country purposed on the life, liberty, and equality of all people, not just white, male, heterosexual, right-wing conservative Christians. Sadly, our President and his political and religious allies now seek to curtail the sounds of true freedom and equality from being heard and realized by those who would threaten their power and privilege. To that end, he has labeled black people as being lazy, quick to commit crimes, and unpatriotic while referring to those friendly to white supremacy as being “fine people”—all while enjoying the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan. He has referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists,” called for a complete shutdown of Muslims from entering the United States, and claimed that 15,000 immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. Trump once referred to a Hispanic Miss Universe as “Miss Housekeeping” and mocked Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” He has frozen a series of LGBTQ-friendly healthcare rules, tried to reinstate a ban on transgender people in the military, argued that anti-gay discrimination is legal, and nominated multiple candidates to the courts and other public offices who have anti-LGBTQ records. With a long and continued record of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia that clearly displays his desire to protect and prosper white, male, heterosexual power and privilege seemingly at any cost, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe that all religions are to be extended equal rights and protections. Regardless of ones faith, we believe no religion should be granted preference in the public square or afforded special privileges. By constitutional design, we are not a Christian nation nor do we have a state religion—period, full stop. Accordingly, with great enthusiasm and vigor, we fundamentally value, respect, and appreciate people of all religions and defend their rights to exercise their faith peacefully and to be given equal status and treatment alongside all others. Yet, conservative Evangelical Christianity has long been striving to prosper a right-wing, male, heterosexual, white-privileged, conservative brand of Christianity and to attain its dominance in all of society, even to the exclusion, discrimination, demonization, and marginalization of other religions. With a willingness to spiritually justify sin, hypocrisy, duplicity, greed, racism, bullying, violence, war, and discrimination, conservative Evangelicalism sees President Trump as an irresistible pathway to the nationalization of their religion of white power and privilege. To that end, President Trump has enthusiastically opened his presidency and his policies to the influence and partnership of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity. Sadly, to the privileged, the emergence of true equality always feels like war. Thus, Trump and his side-chick of conservative Evangelical Christianity have bit the apple of spiritual and political greed in hopes of subduing the greatest threat to their elitism and imperialism—true equality for all. With an overwhelming lust for dominance in all things and a diabolical partnership with the evils of conservative Evangelicalism in order to spiritually justify it, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who strongly believe that women are equal to men and therefore should be granted the same rights, opportunities, dignity, and rewards—especially where men have enjoyed unfair advantage, double-standards, and preferential treatment. We believe women are not lesser vessels, inferior human beings, sexual objects created to serve the pleasure of men, nor designed to take a submissive role in any arena of life—especially at home, in society, or at the work place. Rather, women are fully capable human beings equally empowered by the divine. Unfortunately, President Trump has long exploited and abused women for personal gratification and gain. He has suggested that sexual assault in the military is simply what happens when men and women work together, stated women are inherently manipulative, credited women’s professional success to their looks, declared that childrearing is women’s work, told a woman she was disgusting for pumping breast milk, referred to a woman as a “piece of ass,” and bragged about grabbing women’s pussies. With a disgusting unapologetically sexist, predatory, demeaning, discriminating, and exploitive view of women, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who firmly believe that those with special needs represent nothing less than the beauty and divine diversity of creation. In fact, we hold that all people have limitations and inabilities of various kinds, some are just more apparent than others. Therefore, we abhor any sentiments that ridicule, belittle, or devalue people with disabilities, and commit ourselves to stand in solidarity. Sadly, President Trump has publicly mocked people with special needs, exhibiting a pubescent callousness becoming of none other than the devil himself. In fact, he and his political allies are proposing legislation that will dismantle the Americans with Disabilities Act, leaving people with disabilities gravely exposed while making those who violate the ADA virtually consequence-free. With a brutishness towards human diversity and a blatant disregard for those with disabilities, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe economic prosperity and its benefits should not be limited to the privileged nor should our societal systems create a playing field that fast-tracks the elite and stymies the rest towards receiving the equal blessings of good fortune, hard work, and financial well-being. We aggressively refuse to settle for a hypocritical economic system that postures a greedy socialism for the top and a callous capitalism for the bottom. Unfortunately, president Trump and his allies will seemingly stop at nothing to stack the deck towards the financial benefit of white male privilege. To that end, Trump has created an economic advisory team that is devoid of women, minorities, working people, and the middle class. It is indeed, a “suicide squad” for the prospering of an elitist economy with dark money infiltrating our government and politics like never before. With an unprecedented level of financial greed and arrogance, and a willingness to spend more taxpayer money in one month on personal trips than former President Obama did in one year, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe that truthfulness and moral integrity are foundational for leadership, especially when endorsed by the religious. Though no person is perfect or devoid of flaws in character, we believe a humble repenting spirit is required for leadership that is characterized by trust, noble influence, and divine authentication. In that way, America has long valued presidential leadership that is, at the very least, marked by basic decency, relational maturity, and human respect. To that end, we vehemently stand against any justification, especially spiritual, that turns a blind eye towards leadership characterized by infidelity, deception, avarice, immorality, discrimination, bullying, dishonesty, and illegal pursuits—no matter how politically or financially advantageous it may be to do so. Sadly, Trump and his political and religious allies are largely devoid of nobility, moral and spiritual integrity, human decency, and the hallmarks of true leadership. Instead, their seemingly insatiable appetites for power and privilege have created a narcissistic political climate nothing shy of the lawless, nefarious, and greedy culture of the Wild West where virtually anything goes and anything can be said that benefits their agenda. The sheer frequency, spontaneity, and arrogance of our President’s lies have no precedent in American politics. In fact, with Trump, the Father of Lies has met his match as our entire country has been waterboarded by the constant flood of his falsehoods and a supporting religious right who have lost their capacity for moral discernment. So much, that they will quickly gas-light the crap out of those who would expose their evils. With an unapologetic willingness to engage in numerous acts of marital unfaithfulness, bully his disagreers, lie to the American people, and leverage every opportunity to enflame his narcissism, even to dire expense of our nation, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who love creation, reject violence, and value true human equality.

We are a people who uphold religious pluralism, see women as equal, and defend the vulnerable.

We are a people that joyfully extend liberty to all, denounce personal, religious, and national greed, and abhor corrupt arrogant carnal narcissistic leadership.

Dear world, this is the America we believe in, this is the people we are.

President Trump is not us, not even close.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Dear Conservative Evangelical Christian, Answer Me This

I have to admit, I’m growing increasingly confused with nearly every moment. Not just confused—alarmed, if I’m honest.

I’m no spiritual giant, but it’s been my longtime understanding that the Christian faith is to be centered on the person of Jesus. At least, that’s the divine plot God seems to have written and the Name many have boastfully placed on the marquee. Yet, when I survey the Scriptures and listen to His mind within me, I’m sadly left with no alternative but to be filled with disappointment and disillusionment. For the epic story of Jesus and His love that I had hoped would fill my senses with every scene you project into my seeing has become a horror show of conservative Evangelical Christian evil.

Perhaps, I’ve completely lost my mind and have fallen away from the Spirit—that’s certainly not beyond possibility. Perhaps, that prayer cloth I discarded along with the accountability partner that came with it, has put a divine jinx on my capacity to discern the spiritual. It’s probably all in my mind and a carnal figment of my imagination. Yet, I can’t seem to ignore the sure duplicity and sheer insanity of what your faith understanding seems to be wielding upon the earth with ever increasing fashion.

I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and even come to my senses if need be. So, please conservative Evangelical Christian, answer me this—I’m ready, and I’m listening.

Where does Jesus ever put the Bible (which hadn’t even been written yet) above Himself or even in equal standing, and where does He say it’s the perfect Word of God and admonish His followers to worship their own interpretations of it?  In fact, on several occasions, I’ve noticed that Jesus reinterprets the Scriptures and turns over the table on their traditional meaning. I don’t have a problem suggesting that the Bible was inspired by God as long as we admit that divine inspiration doesn’t automatically equate to human accuracy. Perhaps, that’s why Christian scholars can’t even agree to this day on how we arrived at the canonization of the Bible let alone what books should be included. And not just that, but with over 30,000 different denominations, we can’t even put all of our bumpers in the same parking lot in regards to something as central as the essence of salvation. Yet, you want me to believe that your Bible, your version, and even your interpretation is the infallible inerrant perfect Word of God. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but I can’t deny how that leaves me suspiciously wondering, if it’s all so perfect, why would Jesus summon His Spirit (not you, me, or the Bible) to be humanity’s ultimate guide in all truth?  I’m trying to see Jesus in all this song and dance with the Bible, but if I’m honest, I just can’t—at least not the Jesus who lives within me.

Please conservative Evangelical Christian, answer me this.

Where does Jesus ever utilize a weapon in an act of aggression or defense, or even so much as hint that there could be an occasion where his followers would be righteous and justified in doing so? I’m not suggesting that a person who owns a gun for mere sport, hunting, or nonviolent pleasure is unfaithful to the Master. I’m not even suggesting that a person who possesses a gun for self-defense is necessarily a bad person. But, the more I experience the heart of Jesus the more I become convinced, if you’re going to own a gun which is purposed primarily on killing, and harbor the willingness to use it against another human being, you’re going to have to leave the person, example, and teachings of Jesus out of it and step outside of His ways to justify it. Stock up on all the weapons you want, rationalize a love of guns any way that helps you sleep at night, and insist on your Second Amendment rights even to the mass murder of children. However, with all due love and respect, you can stop trying to convince me that God blesses your endeavors and Jesus supports your armament and willingness to do violence—He doesn’t, at least not the Jesus who lives within me.

The fact that the NRA and conservative Evangelicalism have become two peas in a diabolical pod. The truth that many conservative Evangelicals propose that the solution to our gun problem is more guns. The reality that churches who claim to worship Jesus are now opening gun ranges. The daunting awareness that a majority of conservative Evangelical Christians are not willing to pick up their cross and lay down their love affair with guns when the safety of innocent people is undeniably in the balance. All of this tells me everything I need to know—Jesus has surely left the building. Go ahead, keep on trying to convince me there is some ominous “new world order” that is trying to disarm Americans for the purpose of conquest. In the meanwhile, I’ll be resting assured that if there is any influence in the world that is trying to strip us of our lust for power, privilege, violence, and the guns that are symptomatic of such, that influencer is Jesus who, for the joy set before Him, chose a cross instead of an AR-15, Glock, or any other weapon. And yes, that’s in the Bible—perhaps you should read it.

Please conservative Evangelical Christian, answer me this.

Where does Jesus ever display, condone, or dismiss any of the sin-ladened and anti-Christ attributes of President Trump? Most assuredly, no one is perfect and God uses imperfect people for great purposes. Yet, isn’t there a difference between being imperfect and being an unapologetically pussy-grabbing, adulterous, racist, sexist, xenophobic, mental illness mocking, greedy, lying, vulgar, belligerent, and bullying President? In conservative Evangelical churches across our country, imperfect people are being used appropriately to do great ministry. Yet, I suspect, President Trump couldn’t even qualify to serve in your nursery or youth ministry, let alone deserve the continued support and praise as the President of the Unites States from those who would claim to be Christian. Surely, you don’t want a man who brags about grabbing women’s pussies to be changing diapers or going on camping trips, do you? Yet, many conservative Evangelicals Christians, still to this day, can’t help but to worship this President and declare His divine anointing—all while throwing a temper tantrum over an Olympic ice skater who is simply gay. I’m not trying to be crass or push any buttons, but what is this insanity that we are becoming? In fact, I have this growing suspicion that if PresidentTrump ever turned his back on conservative Evangelicalism or got in the way of their greedy ambitions, all of a sudden, his nefarious character would become oh-so important and problematic. Until then, you’ll keep trying to convince me that sleeping with enemy and becoming his side-chick is really sitting at the table with Jesus and washing His feet. So, please don’t be surprised when I cry, “bullshit!” I mean no disrespect, but this isn’t about Jesus, faithfulness, and Godly living—that’s the problem, isn’t it?

See, the Bible, guns, and politics—everything seems to have become a weapon to you for emotionally, spiritually, and physically stealing, killing, and destroying all that you perceive to be an enemy that you might nationalize, militarize, and globalize your faith ideology. Not because Jesus is telling you to do so, but because you’re addicted to white, male, heterosexual power and privilege—the opioids of the Evil One.

I want to believe that your greatest desire is Jesus and knowing His heart for humanity. I want to believe that you care about children and the safety of innocent people. I want to believe that moral character, sacrifice, decency, and goodness are important to you and foundational to your faith system. But, every time you have an opportunity to take up your cross and show me, it seems as if you are more interested in taking up, protecting, and prospering white, male, heterosexual, right-wing conservative power and privilege.

I know your heart is good and filled with honorable intention. I know you want me to believe it’s all about God, the Bible, and Christian faithfulness. Yet, how am I to conclude, with even just a small measure of confidence, that Jesus is your Lord and the King of your faith system when it seems there are so many things of Satan that you worship before Him?

Please conservative Evangelical Christian, answer me this.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Conservative Christian, Stop Sending Your Thoughts And Prayers

You want to know why so much of modern conservative Christianity makes people want to vomit?

You want to know why so many people believe that conservative Christianity is largely a religion of the self-righteous and privileged?

You want to know why God surely cringes with a divine face palm nearly every time conservative Christians flap their gums?

Why? Because, at times, we stay stupid ignorant stuff—especially when what is needed most is either our complete silence or the taking of swift meaningful action.

We are so biased, pretentious, greedy, and dripping with double standards that we have become nose-blind to our own religious stench. It’s as if Jesus is so far removed from our faith that we can’t even summon a smidgen of His likeness when it counts.

Tragically, just days ago, 26 beautiful humans were brutally murdered while gathering for worship and prayer in their church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Once again, a semiautomatic rifle was used to accomplish mass murder as they had been before in Orlando, Aurora, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, and San Bernardino—starting to see a pattern?

In fact, it was an Evangelically elected President Trump who in February signed a bill into law in order to roll back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun—all to the praise and high-fives of many conservative gun-loving Christians. All of this, while a blatant bloody stockpile of evidence is ever-growing in its clear declaration that we have a monumental gun problem in America, largely at the feet of conservative Christians who worship their firearms far more than the Jesus of their faith.

In fact, in response to this most recent hellacious mass murder of a gathering of good people praying, seeking, and desiring the favor and blessings of God, the callous reaction of many conservative Christians to this tragedy was to send their “thoughts and prayers,” quickly deflect the issues of gun violence, and tell the American people that we should be more prepared and vigilant as potential victims of shootings—which I am sure would have made all the difference for 5-year-old Brooke Ward who was murdered within a matter of seconds upon the entrance of Devin Kelley into her sanctuary with trigger pulled.

Are you kidding me? Thoughts and Prayers? What the hell do you think these people were doing in that church?

Tell me this isn’t the sum of your faith. Tell me these aren’t your best ideas as to how to manifest the heart and will of a nonviolent Jesus in the midst of a growing list of countless murderous tragedies empowered by a lust for guns, privilege, and the insisting upon of your rights, even to the present and future deaths of countless lives.

Truly and obviously, with hollow sentiments like that, it appears your prayers have become a spiritual veil to an empty faith devoid of a love that leads to action.

No wonder why so many clear-thinking Jesus-loving people are crying, “Bullshit!”

If you can’t meaningfully restrict your gun rights for the sake of the lives of your fellow human beings, one thing is most certainly clear—you apparently don’t know Jesus, nor worship Him as Lord. Your guns, your rights, and your privilege have become your master, and the needless blood of countless mass shooting victims is dripping down your evil cowardly hands—that’s the truth.

So, stop sending your thoughts and prayers, the world knows that when push comes to shove, you don’t truly give a crap. In fact, it appears that nothing is more important than the furthering of your white male heterosexual conservative Evangelical Machine. You could leverage the turning of the tides in a violent gun-worshipping America, but you don’t, and sadly, it seems that you won’t. We can read between the lines, and we have become wise to your spiritual sleight of hand—your privilege is more important than people, period.

Until we see you leading the way towards real meaningful gun control. Until we see you encouraging your fellow conservative Christians to support and call for significant gun restrictions. Until we see you stand up and walk away from kneeling at the throne of the NRA. Don’t be surprised when all your spiritual bloviating, grandstanding, and parading of Jesus is met with the middle finger of many in America—myself included.

The world doesn’t need your thoughts and prayers, we need your repentance and authentic desire to actually follow the ways of Jesus when it matters most, and perhaps when it costs you the greatest.

Until then, the corrupted fruit dangling off your tree will be met with our fierce dismissal and denouncement. For we have tasted and seen that your twisted diabolical conservative Evangelical faith understanding is not good, not good at all—in fact, it’s evil.

Conservative Christian, stop sending your thoughts and prayers—start repenting and surrendering your worship of guns before more blood is tragically spilled.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Christian, What Your Continued Support Of Trump Is Screaming To The World

Perhaps it’s not your intention—that is, the true message your continued support of President Donald Trump is sending to the world. In your mind, you’ve been innocently choosing between lesser evils, seemingly caught in a no-win conundrum. Initially, your vote for Trump to become President was birthed with an underlying hope that he would shed his campaign antics and mature into a more solid presidential leader that supports your values with integrity and poise. Yet, despite consistent clear evidence to the contrary, as neither his character nor his leadership competencies have improved whatsoever, still to this day he retains your allegiance. Twittering like a middle schooler, bullying his disagreers, lying blatantly, harboring serious duplicity, and exuding strong levels of narcissism and greed still don’t seem to phase you the least. In all the ways that Trump and Jesus clearly and undeniably don’t mix, your continued loyalty is sending a deafening, disturbing, and revealing litany of messages to the world that you may not fully realize.

Whether it’s your desire or not, with every ounce of continued support you garner for this President, you are trumpeting these sure declarations to the world about you and your brand of Christian faith.

“We Seriously Lack Discernment and Spiritual Maturity”- As much as your creed declares to know and have the Spirit, perhaps you’ve somehow triggered the “turn off” valve. For either your capacity for spiritual discernment is all but nonexistent, or you’re taking every opportunity to turn a blind eye—the epitome of immaturity. From “pussy grabbing” to denying healthcare to millions. From blatantly racist comments to trash-talking his perceived enemies. From lusting after his own daughter, to having multiple failed marriages. From the temper tantrums of Spicer to the “not sucking my own cock” of Scaramucci. The undeniable ever growing list of immoral and inconsistent red flags and sounded alarms is staggering with this President, especially when compared to your corresponding silence and excuses. With every pass you grant to Trump’s ungodliness, you reek of your lack of ability to put spiritual eyes onto the President in front of you and have the maturity to confront reality. Perhaps, so seduced by a conservative right-wing Evangelical ideology, it’s as if you’re convinced that denial, rationalization, and double standards are now spiritual gifts that can be excused as necessary evils to the furthering of your mission. Whatever your conclusions may be, this is not spiritual maturity nor discernment, it’s joining forces with the darkness—the sure message your continued support of President Trump is screaming to the world.

“For Us, It May Be About Our Faith, But It’s Certainly Not About Jesus”- As innocent and benign as your intentions may be, the days are surely over when one can support President Trump and still yet claim their brand of faith is founded and centered on Jesus—period. A house divided cannot stand nor manifest spiritual integrity. With all due respect, to praise Trump and Jesus at the same time is to declare to the world your faith has little to do with Him—Jesus. Directly or indirectly as you continue to support President Trump, you join forces to nationalize conservative Evangelical Christianity, further white privilege, condemn the LGBTQIA community, turn a deaf ear to sexism and racism, belittle minorities, demonize perceived enemies, and foster xenophobia—telling the world everything they need to know. If it was ever about Jesus for your brand of Christian faith, it certainly isn’t now. For Jesus has never and would never condone such bigotry, hatred, self-centeredness, imperialism, condemnation, elitism, and discrimination—in fact, He died at the hands of such things in order to put an end to such things. Keep on lifting your hands in worship, building more buildings with crosses on top, sending missionaries across the globe, and declaring your solidarity with the Bible—the world isn’t buying it one bit, but rather hearing the sure message screaming from your continued support of President Trump, “For us, it may be about a lot of things, but it’s certainly not about Jesus.”

“Our Gospel Bottom Lines On Personal Power and Privilege”- Perhaps you are truly unaware or blinded to the moment, but while Jesus is washing feet, your continued support of President Trump intimately connects you with those licking their chops to step on them—especially if that’s what it takes to move the conservative Evangelical machine forward. With assumptions as sickening as those that equate unchristian immorality as being connected to a person’s tendencies to need healthcare, nothing is more clear than right wing religious conservatism’s desire for power and privilege. The underlying diabolical promise that your support of Trump declares is that if you think, believe, and act the way we do, you’ll be blessed above and have power over others. Don’t be fooled or live in denial, “Make America Great Again” was first born in the incubator of your faith understanding which has reduced Jesus down to a personal white republican gun-carrying Savior whose chief desire and calling upon your life is to make you great and give you a great life, no matter the expense to others. Sadly, while perhaps your gospel is great news for you and those who conform and fit the mold, it’s terrible news for all others, particularly those your brand of faith deems to be the enemy. Just ask Muslims, minorities, women, immigrants, and the LGBTQIA community. The message your continued support of President Trump is screaming to the world is that you’re completely at peace with using Jesus as the hood ornament of your conservative Evangelical world bulldozer, fueled by your ultimate desire for personal power and privilege.

“Our Brand Of Christianity Is A Scheme Not A Dream”- For let’s be honest, no dream remains a dream the moment it must take advantage, condemn, discriminate, or harm another in order to see its fruition. No matter how spiritual and noble your brand of faith postures itself, your continued support of Trump engrafts you to a political and religious scheme pimped as the American dream—eroding it all into one big nightmare. For how many people must suffer condemnation, discrimination, marginalization, and even death as a result of your brand of faith’s efforts to survive and prosper? How can denying millions of people healthcare be in concert with the dream of Jesus for their lives? How does your continued support of Trump serve to feed the hungry, heal the sick, foster true equality, uplift the downtrodden, give shelter to the homeless, love the enemy, extend mercy, bless the meek, empower the minorities, and rescue the least of these? How does your continued lifting up of Trump as a God-appointed leader inspire future generations towards the ways of Jesus? The truth is, it doesn’t, none of it—for it’s all one great big scheme. It’s always been about you, moving your faith ideology forward at all costs, but yours—that’s the message your continued support of President Trump is screaming to the world.

“We Have Become Inhumane People At Best, And We’re Basically O.K. With It”- Perhaps this is the message heard round the world the clearest. In every way you should be leading the way, you are desperately falling behind. Instead of holding up love as the highest of priorities, it’s violently thrown to the ground and deemed an accessory at best. Instead of looking for every way to live at peace, you’re always searching for an enemy to conquer—contriving them into existence when a real one can’t be found. Instead of extending the table of hospitality, tolerance, freedom, grace, and true equality, you’re insistent on building walls to protect and prosper your privilege. If it wasn’t for your ultimate benefit, prosperity, or greedy fulfillment, so much of what we as a country and people do for the world you would have ceasing to exist—for you’re always looking out for number one—you. At the end of the day, it’s all about protecting your way of living, believing, and doing, even at the expense of Jesus and your fellow human. For apparently, Trump is merely a manifestation of your true creed, character, and aspirations—what else are we all to believe when the one message we never hear is that of you renouncing him? At the end of the day your continued support of President Trump screams a clear message to all the world, “We don’t give a sh*t, call us inhumane, evil, or whatever you want, this is our faith and this is our nation—like it or leave it.”

Whether it’s your desire or not, with every moment of your continued support for this President, you’re blasting these sure declarations to the world about you and your brand of Christian faith.

Perhaps, now would be a good time to listen to the echoes—asking yourself a simple question, “who or what do I truly serve?”

Jesus and the world surely know the truth.

The questions is—for you, does it even matter?

As it stands today, your silence, excuses, and continued support of President Trump tell us all the answer—apparently not.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

No Longer Afraid—The Day My Heart Outgrew Conservative Evangelicalism

I used to be, but today is a brand new day.

I’m not afraid anymore—something  has happened deep within my being. New perspectives, revelation, and spiritual understandings have changed my mind completely. No, not in some kind of condescending way nor with a joy that excludes you. I’m just a completely different person now—my soul convictions and overall posture are nothing of the same.

I understand. Perhaps to you, it seems like I’m out of control, descending into a death-spiral plummeting into everything and anything that is backslidden and heretical. Yes, I suppose it’s true, I am out of control and it’s such a beautiful thing—breathing for the very first time. I’ve lost no love for you, mean no disrespect, nor harbor any pride in saying so—but conservative Evangelicalism, it feels like my heart has outgrown you—I can’t lie.

Where I used to curl up in the fetal position, turn off my brain, play dead, tuck in my shirt, and quickly fall in line, a seismic grace-bomb has gone off within me sending waves of courage and freedom supplied with a simple message, “have no fear.”

Call it a spiritual emancipation, a soul-revolution, or a new found courage to walk away. All I know is this—today is like no other, I’ll never be the same. Conservative Evangelical Christianity—with all due respect, I’m no longer afraid.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Speak and Live my Truth, Without Fear of Your Rejection- I must admit, intended or not, you used to have me under your thumb and controlled a good bit of my headspace. But now, Grace has taught me who I am, full of divine splendor and perfectly loved by the Father. Without blemish, stain, or unrighteousness, God is well pleased with me, as is—just me being me. For I’m an unstoppable force of God-affirmation that is immune to condemnation, coercion, and the religious spirit. There’s no proof text, admonition, or guilt trip that could ever penetrate my Jesus-plated armor of identity. In a way like never before, I’m at peace with who I am, addicted to life outside conservative Evangelical control, guilt, and religious seduction—if I’m honest, that’s how I truly feel. My heart has outgrown your rejection.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Say You’re Wrong, Without Apology or Reservation- No, I don’t have all the answers or know things completely. Yet, I do have the Light of God’s Truth within me that confirms in my Spirit what my mind can’t always explain—sometimes you’re wrong, and now, I’m no longer afraid to say it. I don’t always have a defense or explanation, but the mind of Christ within me knows when something is amiss and you’re at it again, selling me more poisonous religion—no matter your intention. The difference now is this—I’m just not going to take it. In fact, I’m going to completely spit it out—for today, I’m no longer afraid. My heart as outgrown your religious spirit.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Live in a World of Grey- For the gravity of your controlling, fear-driven, and self-righteousness creed has long been pushing to reduce my heart and believing into a black-or-white right-wing religion, where God is on your side and the enemy of all others. Yet, here’s what I’ve discovered, I don’t have to align my faith to absolutes nor lord them over another, especially when God is so much bigger and His love so much more capable. My peace and centeredness is grounded in Jesus the Author and Finisher of a world of unlimited spectrum—far beyond my best conclusions and confessions—always revealing more. I’m not afraid to graduate from cut-and-paste conservatism and embrace a God of diversity, a world of differences, and a Jesus who purposely leads me to have more questions than answers. There’s nothing to fear in welcoming uncertainties—for today I’ve been awakened, it’s the place where true faith actually lives and flourishes. My heart has outgrown your narrow mindedness.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Embrace Science, Social justice, and Human Dignity. Jesus is all and in all things, for where can we go from His Spirit? How can I be afraid to consider facts, scientific wisdom, and their faith implications? In fact, when I gaze upon the Grand Canyon with all its rivers and layers, I’m not going to tremble anymore when my soul refuses to believe in a 6,000 year old creation. I’m not going to apologize for a practical faith and an all-inclusive human-loving compassionate Jesus, whose message and example applies to every aspect of life on earth and living. I’m not going to abandon human decency, rights, and dignity to embrace a conservative brand of faith that is skilled at spiritually justifying hate, privilege, and the dehumanizing of people with whom it disagrees or deems to be sinning. No-more-can-do—today is a new day of wisdom, mercy, and compassion—at least, for me. My heart has outgrown your apathy.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Look My Privilege in the Mirror with Honesty- It’s true, and I’m no longer afraid to admit it. I’m white, male, straight, and for so long, was totally clueless. The thought of being privileged was nowhere to be found blipping on my radar screen. Until that day when, because of my changed beliefs, I became a kind of minority. Mocked, maligned, betrayed, and presumed dirty and guilty, simply because I breathed—differently than you. The bias, racism, bigotry, sexism, judgmentalism, and elitism that was long undetected within me, revealed itself—shaking me to my core and haunting my every being. Now, this one thing I know for sure, I refuse to let fear win the day and live my life unaware, unchanged, and unmoved by the presence of my inherent privilege. I’m a changed man with new conviction, committed to being a force of true equality, as was and is Jesus—I believe. My heart outgrown your elitism.

I’m No Longer Afraid To See Women as Equal in All Things- The wizard is out from behind the curtain, there’s no theological slippery slope to fear, nor hierarchy to declare—it’s all smoke and mirrors. By God’s design, women are not inferior people nor lesser in capability—and I’m no longer afraid to look you in the eye and say it. I love and respect you, I really do. But, despite all the patriarchal pressure to see differences where there are none, I’ll be standing at the top of the mountain declaring full equality in home, marriage, society, work, and church—nothing short of in everything. It’s a new day, with a new me, embracing an eternal equality for all people. My heart has outgrown your discrimination.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Break Free from the Chains of Biblical Inerrancy- I know, it’s the Holy Grail of all that you believe. For you, it’s the foundation of everything—no one dare question it. But I have, and I will—I make no apology. In fact, I’m all together convinced that the Bible is much more a collection of our words about God than His perfect inerrant words for us. No, not because I want to twist it to say what I will, but to never commit God into saying and doing what He hasn’t. For He is the Word within me that reveals and guides me above all things, especially in regards to a book commonly used to condemn, control, and judge. My heart has outgrown your Scripture idolatry.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Love People, Without Fear of Aiding and Abetting Sin- What a constant pain and stress, prequalifying people for love, fellowship, and affirmation. Determining who is in or out, right or wrong, wayward or faithful—what a mess. If there is one thing for sure that emboldens my courage, it’s knowing that Grace and unconditional Love are the only things that truly change people. I’m not afraid to trust the Spirit to do what only She can, and for me to love unconditionally without fear, restriction, or restraint—trusting God with the rest. My heart has outgrown your conditions.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Affirm the LGBTQ Community- You believe it’s all sin and demonic manifestation—I simply don’t. You line up your passages as proof—I see them altogether differently. What else can I do, but believe what I believe with honesty? As much as your stereotyping desires to include me on your list of progressive, bible-ignoring people, I’m not afraid any longer to receive the stare-down of your disapproval. I stand in proud, full affirmation of the LGBTQ community. For me, it’s not a matter of Grace or biblical leniency, but of Gospel truth. My heart has outgrown your condemnation.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Go to the Hell of Your Faith Understanding- Yes, I’ve heard it a thousand time, “You’re in danger of going to hell” if not already guaranteed a reservation. I should be trembling in fear and confessing sins every moment of every day just to make sure. God is loving, but also just—and His will is to torture you eternally if you don’t love Him back in return—in precisely all the right ways. Thankfully, with all due respect, my heart has been captured by a Love that is permanent and unmerited. I have no fear of your hell or your conclusions that I’m going there. God’s Grace is sufficient and His love endures forever—who or what shall I fear? My heart has outgrown your hell and the god you’ve fabricated to send me there.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Walk Away from You and “Church” Altogether- If a bridge can be burned, it wasn’t worth it or its destination. I’m not going to be controlled anymore by your threats of abandonment and disassociation. At times, it feels like you leave me no other choice, but to walk away from you, and even “church” altogether. The fear I once had of life without you has shrunken in comparison to the regret I would certainly harbor if I caved to the fear of living and speaking my truth. I wish we could find a middle ground of peace, but if push comes to shove, I’m no longer afraid to leave. Thank God almighty, I’m free at last. My heart has outgrown your imprisonment of mine.

I’m No Longer Afraid to Resist, with Every Fiber of My Being- No more burying my head in hopes it all goes away. No more biting my tongue just to keep the peace. No more settling in order to appease. I’ve tasted and seen the toxins of your brand of believing, and now I just can’t idly stand and watch you seduce, abuse, bully, and deceive—no matter how sweet your fragrance or intention. I’ve come to realize, it’s not all just about me. When my moment of truth is before me and injustice and evil show their face, I will resist with non-violent solidarity no matter what it takes. Yah, there’s a new courage within me. My heart has outgrown your intimidation.

I’m No Longer Afraid To Do, What You Won’t Do For Me—Accept You Nonetheless. I’m not asking you to change, nor condemning you to hell. I’m not denying you rights or demanding my way in your public circles. I’m not labeling you a sinner or an abomination, nor peppering your life with condemnation. I’m not closing the church door or restricting your capacity to serve. I’m not sending you to the curb, if it turns out, you were one of my children. I’m not signing you up and dragging you to reparative therapy. I’m not keeping you from loving who you love or policing your bedroom. I’m not using the Bible to condemn all the people who sin differently than you, or beat you into repentance. No, I’m not afraid to affirm and accept you as is—a perfectly whole, beautiful, and God-imaged person whose faith happens to be conservative Evangelicalism. None of us are better, only different—Grace has made it so.

There was a moment, a cosmic shift in my entire being, the day I awakened and realized I was altogether different. There was a clarity that had never been so clear—a new wind blowing and filling my sails. I’ve lost no love for you, mean no disrespect, nor harbor any pride in saying so—but conservative Evangelicalism, it feels like my heart has outgrown you—all because, the one thing I know for sure is this, I’m no longer afraid.

Salvation has come—I’m no longer afraid.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

8 Things I Wish We Christians Would Admit

Nobody’s perfect, that’s for sure. We’re all on a spiritual journey in life that is both complicated and filled with ample opportunity for blunder. Yet ironically, within much of modern Christianity, faith qualities of mystery, vulnerability, humility, inability, and uncertainty are often deemed to be sure signs of weakness and nonconformity—what God has painted with beautiful shades of grey and fragility, we quickly want to thin into black and white. Unfortunately, this starch-pressed and cut-and-dry way of believing has rendered our brand of Christian faith to be one that is highly resistant and adverse to healthy criticism, introspection, change, and the embracing of fresh revelation. In the eyes of many who look upon us, ours is a Christianity fortified behind towering walls, moated with religious hoops, and purposed on allegiance, conformity, and world domineering. The presence of questions, doubts, uncertainty, individuality, and the recalibration of one’s beliefs are largely unwelcome and unwanted in many of our spiritual precincts. Some have gone so far as to even suggest that we have become deaf to the cries of Jesus upon our callous, cut-and-paste way of believing and living.

Which is why I believe, if our modern American brand of Christianity is to survive and reclaim its credibility, we must first become people of courage who are willing to be self-aware. What so many in the world discern and conclude about our American manifestation of Christianity, as unpleasant as their voices may ring, are the very truths we would do well to admit—that we might begin a process of healing and become more authentic in our faith.

I wish we would admit.

We Don’t Love Very Well- As much as we might try, with deep noble intention, in the minds and hearts of many, we aren’t succeeding. It’s as if we don’t believe in love, and fear its unconditional giving. We say we love people, yet can act so un-lovingly—just ask the broken, the minorities, the LGBTQ community, the “lost,” our enemies or our disagreers. “Hating the sin and loving the sinner” leaves nearly everyone wondering, why not just love for the sake of loving, and let God carry the rest? Our selfishness in church, family, and society has deafened people to any love our hearts might be singing. We are more interested in confronting, correcting, insisting, and even condemning, and believe those actions are somehow required in being loving. Maybe in reality, we’re just addicted to the idea of loving instead of the actual practice of it. Perhaps we should simply love people as people instead of projects—trusting God with any needed transforming. Until then, the truth is, we don’t love very well, and we would do well to admit it.

We Weaponize the Bible- For many of us, it’s become a kind of fourth Person of the Trinity—seemingly granting us a divine authority to assert and demand the practice, infallibility, and priority of our particular faith understanding and ideology. We have fashioned words about God into an idol of words from God—largely for the purpose of lording ourselves over others. The human carnage that remains from the countless rounds of Scripture fired at our enemies, disagreers, and those we deem to be sinning has become an American spiritual holocaust conveniently camouflaged in the flag of being biblically faithful to Jesus. Yet, the clear teachings of the Bible aren’t clear at all—30,000 different Christian denominations is more than ample evidence. The truth is, with every proof-texting and “this is what the Bible says” declaration, many of us show ourselves to be worshiping a false god, the Bible, and wielding it as weapon for debate, condemnation, power, and our self-serving, empire-building ambitions—we would do well to admit it.

We Don’t Fully Trust Grace- Though we may pepper it into a message, counseling session, or the back page of a monthly newsletter, the thought of giving too much Grace haunts us. For many of us, Grace is a slippery slope that can tragically lead people into a spiritual ditch of rampant disobedience. It’s the bait that gets people into the door for what we believe is the real message, “repent, or else.” To many of us, Grace is what makes it possible for us to have a fighting chance at a relationship with God and eternity spent with Him as long as it’s followed with believing and doing the right spiritual things. Yet, people are quickly learning that apart from a life rested and centered solely on Grace, everything else requires pretending and hopeless striving, as our best efforts always fall short—if we’re willing to admit it. Where the Apostle Paul insists that it’s Grace alone that leads people to a change of mind and heart, and is the sole power to teach, guide, transform and enable us into all truth and right living, we quickly dismiss trusting the purity of his revelation. Instead, we frantically fumble through the other Scriptures desperately looking for a quick fix for our flesh—which always seems to need another “to do” list. We don’t fully trust Grace, the only power of God for life, change, and transformation, which is why we as a people and nation aren’t getting any better—actually worse, if you haven’t noticed. We would do well to admit it.

We Come Across as Arrogant- We have the truth, the one and only true religion, and everyone else is desperately wrong or “lost.” Believe like us, become like us, live like us, join us, and then you’ll be a legitimate and acceptable human. These are the kinds of attitudes and subtle messages many of us exude, intended or not, with our spiritual noses pointed high in the air. Somehow we have concluded that the way of Jesus is to demand and feel entitled to have our faith-understanding dominate in our communities, schools, society, nation, and world. “Those who are first will be last, and those who are last will be first” are words of Jesus that apparently don’t even render a blip on our spiritual radar screens. No wonder why so many people largely want to spit our pretentious, self-serving way of believing out of their mouths. The admirable amounts of serving, giving, and caring we certainly do are often eclipsed by our arrogant, privileged attitudes—many of which we are blinded in seeing by our pride, and sadly unwilling to admit. We come across as arrogant, and would do well to simply admit it.

We’re Mostly Faking It- It’s the people who don’t go to church who are perhaps the most authentic in their faith. They rightly conclude, they’ll never measure up nor be able to apply the principles, disciplines, and admonitions required for faithful living in just one sermon, let alone all the new ones listed the next Sunday. With a brand of Christianity like ours that is so performance driven, many realize that all they can do is pretend, feel guilty, tired, and ashamed—and they conclude that pretending, along with all its trappings, isn’t for them. What amount of sin adds up to a lifestyle of it? What amount of do-gooding adds up to faithfulness? What amount of trusting adds up to truly believing? What amount of prayer, studying, fellowship, and adoration amounts to being a true worshipper? What amount of faithfulness adds up to being a genuine Christian? The truth is, nobody really knows for sure, the playing field is always changing. Yet, one thing so many people absolutely discern is this, to be a player on our team you must first become a pretender who’s skilled at faking it. With a faith-understanding that places its success and legitimacy largely on our abilities, behavior, and capacity to belief correctly and adequately, we will always be people who, in truth, can do nothing more but mostly fake it. We would do well to admit it.

Church is Mainly About Us- The many expensive buildings that remain empty and unused most of the week. The worship services we fight over to embody our personal preferences. The inside rules, policies, handshakes, and politics we create to keep things under the control of a few, and to manage the rest. The big visions we cast to fulfill our ministry egos. The programs we program to stay in competition with our competitors down the street. The periodic mission trips and service projects we commission in ultimate hope of bringing people to us and our religion, all serve to confess a very clear confession—church is mainly about us. As much as we might, with beautiful intention, purpose ourselves on reaching the unchurched and being culturally relevant, if it all didn’t somehow increase our memberships, stroke our egos, fuel our budgets, and seemingly justify our lavish buildings and worship services, we probably wouldn’t be doing it. Perhaps instead of trying to cleverly and creatively package “church” as being mainly about serving outside people from of a pure altruistic agenda of love, we should just openly admit what so many already know to be true—church is mainly about us.

If We Don’t Have Hell and an Enemy, Our Purpose is Lost- What if Grace, who is Jesus, is truly the only answer and loving like Jesus is our only purpose? What if a hell of eternal torment for the unbelieving is actually more of a figment of our imaginations and a product of ancient infernos, mythology, and old-time religion than it ever has been truly biblical? What if all are in Christ from the very beginning? What if the enemy isn’t “them,” but it’s really “us?” What if, because of the cross, there isn’t an enemy at all? What if all of our spiritual warfare is nothing more than shadow-boxing for Jesus? What if hell is the unrestrained presence and force of Grace upon the religious, and heaven is the unrestrained presence and force of Grace upon the humbled and broken? What if our only purpose is to simply love, and love completely and unconditionally? So much of what we envision, plan, and do as Christians would be rendered ridiculous and counter productive. Pull out the cards of hell and an ever present enemy that needs to be conquered, condemned, and converted, and all comes tumbling down. Like a needle needs a vein, we need hell and a constant enemy, even if they don’t exist. We would do well to admit it.

We’re OK With Other People Not Being OK- The collateral damage caused by significant segments of our American brand of Christianity is something many of us have surrendered ourselves into tolerating and even justifying. Numb to the plight of those who find themselves on the hurting side of our faith, our overall mission to make the world believe, behave, and become like us has become for some, a goal we must achieve no matter the cost. Comfortable with adopting a view of God that is willing and just in leaving people behind to suffer and die for some kind of greater good, makes our Christian living one that easily embraces the same sentiment towards our fellow humanity. Because we believe, in the end, that God is OK with some people not being OK, many of us share the same callous way of being a so-called Christian. As much as we claim to embody and preach compassion, our compassion has limits and expiration dates as it bows down to a brand of Christianity that is capable of eating its own and leaving others behind to suffer in our wake. We would do well to admit it.

Before there can ever be unity, peace, and wholeness among us and from us, we must first become self-aware to the point we are willing to admit what so many others already know to be true.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

© 2018 Chris Kratzer

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