First of all, allow me to make the requisite statements of how much I dislike open letters and blah blah blah please think I’m humble while also listening to me as I stand on my soap box blah blah blah.
So, here’s the thing. We don’t really get along too well, do we? And by “we”, I mean Christians who identify—or are typically identified by others— as liberal (me) and conservative (you).
How do you know we’re liberal? Well, you know us primarily by our fruits (love for the gays—heyyyyyooo for puns), our vegan craft beer, the non-conflict wool beanies we wear, and our hesitancy in admitting that President Obama is the Antichrist (sound minds know that’s actually Paula Deen).
How do we know you’re conservative? Well, we know you primarily by your big ass trucks, the Truck Nuts on your big ass trucks, your adorable obsession with Glenn Beck (who, in a delicious bit of irony, is a devout Mormon), and underlying displeasure with having to pay taxes for anything (who needs hospitals, fire trucks, and police cruisers?).
As you can see, there are a number of differences between us, even if the ones mentioned above are obviously overly simplistic, yet hyperbolic, sensationalized, and more than a little patronizing (this is where I iterate that I don’t actually subscribe to these silly little stereotypes; except for the Truck Nuts, because I’ve never seen Truck Nuts next to an Obama campaign sticker, which would make one helluva subversive statement).
In spite of all these political and theological differences, there is certainly one thing we can all agree on, and it’s pretty significant.
God is Love, and that Love was personified through Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for all mankind.
I’d say that’s a pretty good place for us to remain grounded while we discuss our varying opinions and beliefs on just what it means to interact with and be moved by that God of Love we proclaim.
It’s from that ground I speak to you today, so please remember that as I move forward and attempt to make my point, which is this:
You’re tearing down the Church.
I’m sorry if that hurts or angers you to hear, but history backs this up. Look at any point of progress throughout history (Church or otherwise), and you’ll see the conservative factions of each time fighting and clawing for what once was to remain forever.
Adulterers must be stoned, because that’s what the Old Testament tells us to do.
Gentile converts to Christianity must be circumcised, because that’s how we’ve always done it.
Only church leaders can read the Scriptures, because we can’t be trusted to interpret.
Africans (and a number of other races) work so good as slaves because God has blessed the white man with civility and intelligence.
Women? Stay out of the voting booth, and in the kitchen.
I don’t want openly gay and same sex married couples working at a Christian charity that does some of the hardest, most Christ-like work in the world because ewwwwww.
Ahh, yes. That last one. Surely you’ve heard of this whole World Vision fiasco. In fact, I know you have because so many of you voiced your concerns, and then more of you actually pulled your support from the organization (and subsequently a starving child, but that’s neither here nor there). Your voice was so loud and powerful that not even two days after World Vision announced it was opening up its employment to gays and same sex married individuals, it reversed course and took it all back. Nevermind the fact that World Vision’s CEO was very obvious in his original statement that this new hiring policy was not a condoning of the lifestyle, and that they still held a traditional view of marriage. You were upset that your openly gay Christian brothers and sisters could even be a part of this amazing ministry.
You think homosexuality is a sin? That’s honestly ok with me, because I used to think the same thing, and I totally understand why you think that. However, even though you’re quick to point out that you place no more emphasis on the sin of homosexuality than you do on the sins of lying, stealing, adultery, et al., your actions absolutely place more emphasis. Where’s the clamor against hiring divorced individuals? Or those who might have a history of lying? Well, then you say that homosexuality is an open acceptance of a sin, and is ongoing without repentance. To which I say I’m sure there are more than a couple gluttons who refuse to change their eating habits that work at World Vision (gluttony is a sin that’s far more corrosive to the American way of life, even if it sort of IS the American way of life).
Where’s the equal outrage for an equal sin?
I’m not going to keep focusing on the World Vision issue, because that’s not my overall point (although, it is what spurned this letter). My point is that your refusal to even be associated with the sinners of this world (and of our Church) is drastically diminishing our ability to even be effective in forcing out the darkness in this world. We have so many differing opinions, and you can’t stand that. Truth be told, neither can many of us liberals.
But the hard truth we have to deal with? That truth that’s so inexorably staring us right in the face? Neither of us are going anywhere.
I’m sure some of you are ready to pounce on my imbalanced shaping of this scenario; that I’m not paying credence to the number of you who have been harmed by liberal thinkers with unloving words and actions. In no way do I think the fault for this division lies in your hands alone, and I’m truly apologetic for the moments when my liberal posse members (we don’t ride horses; we drive Prius’) and I have done you harm.
However, let’s acknowledge the fact that the American church is predominantly identified as conservative. Effectively, you’ve won the position as kings (and queens, because I’m liberal and love that egalitarian stuff) of the hill. You’re pretty much in the driver’s seat of how the rest of the world is going to view the Church, and quite frankly, that makes me a little afraid.
Afraid because you’re missing out on us liberals, and we’re missing out on you. We NEED each other. We can HELP each other. The Church will not last as the cultural powerhouse that you wish it to be if it remains on its present course. You’ve forced out a large group of individuals, young and old, who love the ideas of thinking freely and openly, of trying new things and challenging old ways, of living a life so furiously loving that it causes a number of us to forsake the shackles of isolation and loneliness and dwell in communities so intimate it would make your heart burst with kale juice.
We aren’t perfect. We’re certainly really weird. But we’re your brothers and sisters, and you are ours. We want to come home. We long for home, but we feel we no longer have one. The last few days have only served to intensify that feeling, and that’s a perfect example of how the Church is being torn asunder.
I’m not asking you to agree with us. Hell, I certainly know we aren’t going to agree with you. But at least allow us to fight and bicker and love under the same roof, as siblings should.
We owe it to each other, we owe it to the world, and we owe it to our God.