The greatest problem within much of Christianity is not in its ability to draw a crowd, build buildings, debate creeds, lure people onto a spiritual path, or assert its agenda, but rather in its unwillingness to simply love.
In substitution, large segments of conservative Christianity have become skilled at spiritually rationalizing violence, discrimination, condemnation, and religious greed. Under the guise of biblical faithfulness, a white male heterosexual desire for supremacy has carved a never ending trail of religious atrocities upon the maps of history. From black slavery to sexism. From the rape of the American Indian, to the violent condemnation of the LGBTQ community. From the pursued nationalization of their faith ideology, to the duplicit rationalization of their own sinful behavior. From the denial of freedoms for the immigrant, to the brutal murders and imprisonment of black males. Right wing conservative Christianity has staged a diabolically brilliant performance in skillfully hating its perceived enemies while convincing itself, and those who would drink of their Kool Aid, that it’s all one big beautiful manifestation of divine love and biblical faithfulness.
Sadly, nothing could be further from reality.
For what do all these declared enemies of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism have in common? The answer is not sin, evil, or the powers of darkness. Instead, it is simply that they’re either not white, not male, not heterosexual, or not privileged. In fact, when we begin to connect the dots of what conservative Evangelicalism truly worships, a clear picture quickly emerges. Tragically, it’s not the face of Jesus that is revealed, but rather a sure reflection of white male heterosexual supremacy under the dark veil of religious Christian faithfulness.
This is the evil that crucified Jesus upon the cross, as He came boldly manifesting a Love that exposes and confronts the privileged self-righteous spirit of the religious. In fact, He insisted on a Love crafted by the Divine that first embraces Grace and then stands in solidarity with ones neighbor—who is anyone and everyone, especially the least of these. He came to declare human equality and divine affirmation, and to defend the oppressed against all other messages. In the heart of God, everyone is included in the everything of Himself—always has been, always will be. This is the Gospel.
It was this love that Jesus put on display as He defended the women caught in adultery. The right wing religious conservatives of the day had her surrounded with weapons of every kind—stones, proof-texts, snap shots of her Facebook page. Jesus stepped in and between with rage on his face, writing one simple word in the sand that sent the religious screaming like schoolgirls…”Grace.”
It was this love that Jesus drank to overflowing as He sat dining with those the religious would call, “sinners.” Certainly, among them were repeat offenders, illegal aliens, minorities, gays and lesbians, and even a liberal or two—oh my goodness! There was no condemnation, guilt trips, or shaming. Their evenings together around the table never led to accountability partners, programs, or “to-do” lists. To Jesus they were just neighbors, like everyone else. That’s why they called Him, “friend.”
It was this love that compelled Jesus to endure, without violence or physical retaliation. In the face of religious hate, He took upon Himself every kind of hell that the self-righteous could muster. Flogged beyond recognition, backed into a corner, He would never betray the Love who sent Him by manifesting anything different—love of neighbor, even unto death.
It was this love that fed the masses, clothed the naked, and healed the sick as the first priority without discussions of worthiness, qualification, or pre-existing conditions.
It was this love that saw no difference based on skin color, and welcomed the immigrant even without proper papers.
It was this love that died not just as a human, but as all humanity—every single one of them. Gay, straight, transgender, male, female, poor, rich, liberal, conservative, majority, minority, black, white, brown, and everything in between. All neighbors under the cosmic Jesus tent.
For those who may agree that conservative Evangelical Christianity has had its failings, there is still a deafening unwillingness to lift the sounds of their repentance to the level of their sin. Truth and reconciliation are sequential. There can be no peace and understanding until the poison has been fully understood and acknowledged. Perhaps, in fear that their privilege might become threatened and compromised by the emergence of true equality, conservative Christianity has instead become an expert at tone-policing, demonizing, deflecting, and minimizing those who would point to the brutal truth of their evil. For the emergence of genuine equality always feels like war to the privileged.
Make no mistake, the heart of Jesus is this… love of neighbor as yourself, because we are all neighbors, we are all each other—none are better only different. All are affirmed and included. Grace upon Grace.
Sadly, this is the love you refuse to give.
This is the gun you refuse to put down in exchange for taking up the cross.
This is the last-in-line that you refuse to fall into because you always have to be first.
These are the feet you refuse to wash lest you acknowledge that yours are filthy too.
This is the equality that eats at your skin because yours is an image believed to be superior.
This is the servanthood your soul can’t stomach as it guts the very pillars of your privilege.
This is the Jesus who sees everyone as a neighbor to be celebrated, while you seem determined to view the world as a nuisance to be converted.
So, while you’re tone-policing, trolling, and deflecting my every word, I’m just trying to love my neighbor by standing up for them in fierce solidarity with a willingness to shine a light on the horrible religious darkness they endure, and give voice to the true cries of their soul. Call it hypocrisy, overgeneralizing, or a message of “deconstruction”—whatever helps you sleep at night. The truth is, this is the love that Jesus came to bring, the world needs most, and that right-wing conservative Evangelicalism largely refuses to give.
Show us the scars of your solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
Show us the bullets you’ve taken for the black American.
Show us the refuge you have given to the immigrant.
Show us the healthcare you have provided for the vulnerable.
Show us the women whom you’ve given equal honor, pay, opportunity, and dignity.
Show us the outcast, condemned, and marginalized that call you, “friend.”
Show us the tears in your eyes and the cries of your heart as you live your life to bring the Kingdom of equality to all humanity—divinely affirmed as beautiful by the Father.
Until then, this is the love you refuse to give.
Grace is brave. Be brave.