Tag: slavery

Under His Eye : If Conservative Evangelicalism Gets Its Way

One of the most important questions facing our time in history is this, “If right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity had its way, what would the world look like?”

Despite how various Evangelicals might respond to this question, perhaps the best vantage point for an accurate discernment of the answer is to observe pivotal moments in history where conservative Evangelicals (as a whole) have actually won their desires. For nothing reveals the true content of one’s aspirations like the results they bring when successful.

Or perhaps, we could examine their commonly held beliefs and the future those beliefs envision. For in the end, the true sum of one’s faith can be found most clearly within the true impact their faith desires, regardless of what they may or may not claim to confess. We are responsible both for what we believe and the future those beliefs ultimately bring forth. Are we not?

Most recently, one of the prized accomplishments of conservative Evangelicalism is the election and continued support of Donald Trump as President. Say what you will about the politics involved, the bottom line is this—his character, priorities, and leadership are clearly creating a world where the wealthy become richer, the poor become more vulnerable, greed is expanded, bullying is desensitized, corruption is protected, white privilege flourishes, elitism is unleashed, minorities are further marginalized, racism is energized, sexism is normalized, the LGTBQ community is increasingly demonized, and right-wing Christian conservatism is prioritized.

Yet sadly, this is not by chance.

In fact, among many conservative Evangelicals, these are tacitly received as nothing less than welcomed results. For if this presidency was the first occasion in which conservative Evangelicalism has had influential success towards the fruition of these same kind of deplorable realities, then this moment in history would be less profound. However, from the slavery and lynching of black people to the belittlement and abuse of women, conservative Evangelicalism has long resulted in the increased spiritual justification of some of the most evil atrocities ever committed on planet earth.

In fact, now we have an administration, like never before, that increasingly creates economic systems that blatantly benefit the wealthy and exploit the vulnerable, brutally splits families with children apart who are seeking asylum in our country, aggressively sides with Israel in order to further the fulfillment of “biblical” prophecy, threatens to pull news press credentials over “negative” coverage, belittles and thwarts people with disabilities, and has dismantled highly important LGBT-protecting policies, all in the name of undoing the leadership and legacy of our first black President.   

Yet sadly, once again, this is not by chance.

Conservative Evangelicalism teaches its followers that faithfulness to God leads to financial prosperity and wealth. Having pastors with six figure salaries, churches with multi-million dollar facilities, and followers with luxurious lifestyles are seen as a reward from God not a departure from the ways of Jesus. In the mind of conservative Evangelicalism, if you are struggling financially or devoid of financial abundance, it is likely that some aspect of your faith life is askew. Ministry and Christian “success” is largely defined by the increase and accumulation of “more”—more money, more power, more influence, more campuses, more staff, more baptisms, more attenders, more speaking engagements, more followers on Twitter. In the world of conservative Evangelicalism, more is never less, more is always more—even at the expense of others.

Conservative Evangelicalism sees people primarily as spiritual projects for the ultimate goal of conversion into their faith system. Even helping the poor and hurting is largely seen as a means to a faith-serving end that builds their kingdom with more converts and satisfies their obligations of obedience to their faith. Poor hurting people are ultimately helped only to the extent in which it somehow serves their faith system. In fact, within conservative Evangelicalism, poverty (and even hardship) is often deemed as a result of unfaithfulness and wrong belief.

Conservative Evangelicalism manifests a territorial greed that desires to conquer people, groups, communities, perceived enemies, and the planet at large, not for the purpose of serving humanity selflessly, but rather garnering its submission to their faith system.  

Conservative Evangelicalism largely portrays Jesus as a white man. Not just a white man, but a white man who is a Republican, gun-owning, racist homophobic nationalist who is wrapped in the American flag.

Conservative Evangelicalism manifests a good-old-boy-club mentality for white male heterosexuals that gives them a hypocritical privilege, license, and authority over women, often leading to their sexualization, discrimination, control, and abuse. In fact, the only sins that truly matter in conservative Evangelicalism are the ones that are different from theirs and enable them to condemn those who would threaten their white male heterosexual Christian privilege and power.

Conservative Evangelicalism declares the Bible as being the infallible word of God and their interpretations exclusively faithful and accurate to the discerning of its meaning and truth.

Conservative Evangelicalism interprets the Scriptures as condemning the LGBTQ community, labeling them as “abominations,” cancers to our society, enemies of procreation, and deviants destined for hell.

Conservative Evangelicalism once asserted a biblical justification for black slavery and murder, and the demonization of interracial marriage.

Conservative Evangelicalism portrays a god who is justified in killing his enemies, destroying entire of groups of people, and sentencing disobedient non-believers to a hell of eternal torment.  

Make no mistake, what we see unfolding before our eyes is nothing less than the manifestation of the dsytopian dreams of much of conservative Evangelicalism. No matter how much they might sprinkle it with spiritual glitter and dress it up with stage lighting and smoke machines, the finish line of their faith understanding is a violent Armageddon that ushers in a kingdom where anything that does not prosper white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian power and privilege is eradicated from the earth. Spiritually rationalized racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, nationalism, greed, violence, and hypocrisy are all merely pieces of a much bigger puzzle.

This is put on display perhaps in no more profound fashion than through the current television show produced by Hulu, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based of the novel by Margaret Atwood. This prophetic drama puts forth many images, occurrences, and realities that can be easily seen as reflecting the dystopian fruition of the fundamental beliefs and values of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism.  

The truth is, this powerful show does not require a suspension of current reality to understand its message, but merely a gaze into the future of what could be if conservative Evangelicalism continues to gets its way.

In fact, what should be most alarming to us all is this—if conservative Evangelicals were asked to publicly denounce every action and faith confession of the oppressors in “The Handmaid’s Tale” that they believe are contrary to their faith system, I suspect many would find little of which they could accurately object and honestly deny. In fact, nearly everything displayed in this prophetic drama is already currently taking place in one form or another, largely at the hands and influence of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism.

Read the Bible the way they read the Bible. Pray the prayers they pray. See the world the way they see it. Believe in God the way the believe in God. Spiritually justify what they spiritually justify. Then you will see, through a simple glance down the hall of its future, the kind of world conservative Evangelicalism envisions. For if conservative Evangelicalism gets its way, make no mistake, this is what the world would look like. To be sure, being “under his eye” won’t point us to the face of Jesus, but rather to the face of their evil.

Keep your soul vigilant, these are dark times for sure, and they’re only getting darker. Hear the call of Jesus upon your heart, “take up your resistance and follow me.”

America will die at the hands of men who exchanged a brown Jesus for white Christianity, and quite frankly, it’s beginning to seem like that’s just part of their plan—if they get their way.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

photo courtesy of Hulu

Anti-LGBTQ : The New Racism of the 21st Century

I once was full blown, anti-LGBTQ… but not anymore. Not even close.

I have met extensively with LGBTQ people, many of which were already friends. I have read, studied, and dissected every biblical passage on the matter. I have sought the counsel of scholars, scientists, church historians, all from various sides and angles. In the process, I have come to a place of level rest and resulting peace that LGBTQ is no more “sin” than having flat feet. You can’t choose it, and you can’t lose it. Heterosexual, or gay. Straight, or LGBTQ. It’s what you are, or aren’t.

I fully understand the complexity of this issue and all the spiritual, religious, and relational strings attached. This is tough stuff. I am well aware of the nature verses nurture debate and the reparative therapy discourse. The science of gender variances in human biology is compelling to stay the least. Yes, there are those who may “try to be gay” for various reasons. But that is far from the norm, nor the reality for the overwhelming majority.

For the LGBTQ person, there is nothing to be repaired, changed, overcome or transformed. It is… who one is.

As a Jesus follower and pastor, long before I became LGBTQ-affirming, this reality first confronted me when feeling the difference in my Spirit between counseling a person involved in something like abusing alcohol verses counseling a person in regard to their sexuality. Guiding a person abusing alcohol in applying the power of God’s Grace to overcome, fit hand in glove with the heart of Jesus. Doing so with a LGBTQ person left my Spirit deeply unsettled and conflicted. Something didn’t add up. At the time, I couldn’t put words to the disconnect, but I can now.

Being LGBTQ isn’t a problem to be fixed, a sin to overcome, a temptation to subdue, or a stronghold to break. It is the person’s beautiful, God-imaged reality, unchosen and inseparably interwoven into their personhood. There is nothing to change, that can be changed, that should change. It’s like asking a tree to become a mountain. Why would you do that? Both are simply different, and wonderful in and of themselves.

Racism towards black people essentially began during the Renaissance and Reformation. Europeans were coming into increasing contact with people of darker skin in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Merely because of the skin color differences among a minority of people, judgments against blacks were increasingly asserted. From this biological condemnation, a rationale for enslaving Africans developed. Because of their darker skin color, a spiritual scar was branded upon them, declaring them “heathens.” Many used the Bible as their justification. In most instances, a story regarding Noah and his sons is referenced. Ham finds Noah drunk and naked in Noah’s tent. He tells his brothers, Shem and Japheth, who then proceed to cover their father without looking at him. When Noah finds out what happened, he curses Ham’s son Canaan, declaring he will be ”a servant of servants.” In the biblical account, Noah and his family are never described in any sort of racial terms. But as the story morphed over the centuries, falling into the hands of the religious, Ham became widely portrayed as black. Blackness, servitude and the construct of racial hierarchy emerged.

From simple, unchosen biological differences in a minority, to labeled demonic spirituality, to judged inferiority, to active slavery, prejudice, and abuse. Racism against blacks is born. Much of which, in the name of God and biblical faithfulness.

“[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.” –Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America

“…the right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.”Richard Furman, President, South Carolina Baptist Convention

Enter LGBTQ.

From an unchosen, biological difference among a minority, to labeled demonic origin, to judged deviancy from the divine, to active condemnation, isolation, inferiority, and prejudice. Anti-LGBTQ is born. Much of which, in the name of God and biblical faithfulness.

“[homosexuals are] brute beasts…part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven.” -Jerry Falwell, Christian Leader

“Homosexual conduct is, and has been, considered abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated. Such conduct violates both the criminal and civil laws of this State and is destructive to a basic building block of society — the family….It is an inherent evil against which children must be protected.” -Chief Justice Moore, Alabama

“Build a great, big, large fence, 150 or 100 mile long. Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals, and have that fence electrified till they can’t get out. Feed ’em. And you know what? In a few years they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.” -Charles Worley, Christian Leader

Sound familiar?

Anti-LGBTQ, the new racism of the 21st Century is here.

This, my friends, is what we have, and it ought to shake you to your core and sound off every alarm in your conscience and creed.

Maybe for you, like many who lived in the midst of the racial history of the past seven centuries, you don’t see it that way. There are too many cultural, spiritual, and religious biases and presumptions constricting your view. For many, you are simply trying to navigate from what you have heard and long been taught. But just because you don’t see it now, doesn’t it mean it isn’t true now.

I know some of my readers will consider this line of thinking as an atrocity. How can LGBTQ today be symbiotic with the racism of yesterday? Yet, I find it interesting how what are often deemed in history to be theological atrocities of the present later become Christian apologies of the future.

What is a different color of skin on the outside for some, is a different sexual orientation on the inside for others. At the core, it’s as simple as that. No choice, no sin, no different than the color of your skin.

“We struggled against apartheid because we were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about. It is the same with homosexuality. The orientation is a given, not a matter of choice. It would be crazy for someone to choose to be gay, given the homophobia that is present.”Desmond Tutu

Wake up America, wake up Christians. Do you really want to be on the wrong side of history, biblical interpretation, and the manifesting of God’s heart for our culture yet again? Do we really want to be connected to and the catalyst of atrocities being committed towards LGBTQ people not unlike the ones we once (and even still) asserted towards blacks?

Let’s surprise even God Himself, and go ahead and write that letter now, apologizing to the LGBTQ community for our role in demonizing, marginalizing, and damaging their lives. A letter, mark my words, we will most certainly construct, sadly years from now, when we finally realize our error and grow the fruits to admit it, in the same way we did with racism, slavery, interracial marriage, and might I add… divorce and women in ministry.

The new racism of the 21st Century is here. It has a name… anti-LGBTQ.

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