Holding Christians to their Own Light: Nonviolence and hope in Arizona’s “Turn the Gay Away,” Laws

Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb
Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb (Photo credit: Believe Out Loud)

I try to be careful about which hot culture issues I write about for this blog as it usually take about 20 minutes before everyone on my FaceBook news feed stops caring about which Buzzfeed quiz you are, how what “Miley did was shocking BUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT will change you forever,” or, “Twerking and what it means to me.”.   So I don’t mean to fan the flames that bore you but since I have two dogs in this particular dog fight there is something I need to say.

I don’t find these laws very terrifying as I think they won’t hold muster to higher courts and I don’t think that they would even be very financial sustainable… but that is nowhere near my point.   The mere proposal of these laws, however,  just seems to me to be intentionally driving another wedge between people with different interests and pouring fuel on the hot tempers that run both blue and red.

And while a lot of the rhetoric has been carefully crafted to avoid presenting this law as a “Christian law,” many people see it as such because it bears a resemblance to the arrogance and exclusivity of many other “Christian” sponsored laws.

Let’s be clear about the pending “Turn the Gay Away” discrimination laws and the nature  of Christianity.

The Christian tradition is one that holds at the core of its convictions, and climax of its narrative, that the fullest revelation of God (Jesus) risked and lost his life for the mere chance to restore relationship with creation.

Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments
Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments (Photo credit: Believe Out Loud)

Christian Scripture is pretty clear about this: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  In other words, this was all done before creation asked for it, and even if creation was rebelling against God at the time.  The Christian faith is a “kenotic” faith; it is faith of self sacrifice for the sake of others.   This is neither a general theory of love or a highly interpretive reading of the faith through a liberal lens, it is a historical pattern of discipleship.

So when someone claims that laws that protect people who want to turn “sinners” like myself away from their business or service…. Then 1) you can be sure that they are rejection the example and teachings of Christ and 2) technically they should be turning every single human away, including themselves and their children, parents and loved ones.  For according to our tradition, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

 That is not the Christian faith, even by resemblance,                                                    but an abusive and fearful misappropriation of it.  

What drives both sides of this battle in the culture wars is neither values nor rights, faith nor justice, but fear and anger. We are all fostering hatred.

Any battle fought with fear and anger has never had a victor.

The real demon in this battle hides behind neither side of the ongoing conflict, but between them.   The more we turn to hate fear the less we know of God and the less hope we bring to this struggle.

It occurs to me that to blame Christians and Christianity by default for these rifts is to confirm many people’s fears: that only one can survive and the battle must be fought.   To despise our enemy is to fan the flame that burns us both.   The deepest transformation might come when we simply hand Christians our own faith, to hold them up to their own light and to confront them with their own (and only God-given) weapon: Love.

Christians, when did we begin letting fear be our guide?  How long are willing willing to live in that idolatry?

I am a Christian.  I am gay.   In one hand I hold the trembling hand of a neighbor who fears that your existence threatens my own.   On the other I hold the hand of a neighbor, trembling for the very same reasons.   If only we had a story of hope and reconciliation to to light our way.    Wouldn’t that change everything? If. only…



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