Yesterday, North Carolina voted to support an amendment that bans same-sex marriage and civil unions. This morning, NPR reported that one of the key figures leading the support of the amendment held a public celebration with a seven-tier wedding cake. Hey, look, I’m all about celebrating. However, this celebration sends a clear message about how Christians view the whole GLBT conversation. It’s a war to be won, and when we beat you, we’re going to celebrate.
I received an email this morning from a very right-end-of-the-spectrum group, inviting me to attend their upcoming event. The contents of the email? Not that much, just a simple explanation of the worldviews they’re at war with (every one, except theirs), including the Catholic Church, the New Age Movement that is secretly seeping into the church through “spiritual formation”. In addition to the numerous links in the email was one link to an article misquoting sources who, as it turns out, happen to be friends of mine, who’s hearts I know, and who are passionate about seeing students connect deeply with God.
So, so sad.
And then, Longview’s roaming street preacher. I commented about him in my book, Jesus is for Liars. He’s still around and I’ve seen him twice in the last several weeks. The last time we saw him we were stopped at a light for a while, and he took that opportunity to preach into our car, at us, about us, and about our eternity. Is he concerned about the souls of those he’s screaming at? Or, does he think he’s being obedient to God? It comforts me to think that he’s just flat crazy.
I could list a half dozen more examples of what I’ve experienced recently. For so many believers, living out God’s love translates into engaging in political debates, and preaching angrily against everything. It leads them to establish boundaries, silos and battle zones where they vocalize their “correct theology” (often fueled by veiled rage) as supported by this passage, and that passage.
Mean Christians are everywhere. They’re not limited to any one political party or denomination. I know, angry silo-builders exist in every people group. I’m not even going to backflip into citing anything from the life of Jesus…that’s too easy. However, I wonder if the contrast between the character of Jesus and the character of Christians is what leads students away from the church. Is it any wonder why church attendance is declining, why the church is seen as irrelevant (and, why it so often is irrelevant)? Christians don’t know how to be nice. We don’t engage in conversations, we look for opportunities to speak against lifestyles. We’re unable to have conversations about our faith without getting defensive, making sure we point our the faulty theology in someone else’s beliefs. We don’t have friendships with those who don’t know God, we have evangelistic projects. We live out a defensive posture, proudly standing guard over our denominations, our lifestyles, our theologies.
So, look people. Be nice. Please. Do a small something today that establishes your nice-ness. Tip 25%. Invite a discussion about the meaning of life with someone you know doesn’t believe or think like you, and just listen to them talk (and appreciate the beauty of their worldview). Smile. While you’re at it, hold on to your theology with a healthy serving of humility. Admit that you don’t know everything and you might actually not be right about everything.
And please, by all means, don’t live like you’re screaming your beliefs into other peoples cars. That just makes you look crazy.