I’ve been burdened by this post for a while. I’ve used a mammoth road trip and a new start in Charlotte as excuses not to write it. Not to talk about it. All of it.
I’m going to try today with the first of a two-part’er.
The news is usually depressing, and thus I usually don’t comment on the news. Every now and then, though, I feel stirred to speak. I usually say something moderate that either resonates with fellow peacemakers or further angers those on either extreme.
Gosh, commenting on religion and politics and current events is just great. It’s a wonder I don’t do it more often. Especially when the current events are swirling with racism, homophobia, and the Christian reaction.
I was road-tripping the continent for a few weeks before I even knew what “Ferguson” was or meant. I’d seen the name popping up in my Twitter feed, but I never investigated the issue in lieu of all my wanderings.
Eventually, I learned the horrors of Ferguson. In St. Louis I stayed with a new friend whose roots stretch to Ferguson, and he grieved the state of his hometown.
In the months to come we’d hear about similar incidents in New York and Charleston. On one side, cops are valiant heroes; on the other, cops are racist monsters.
People are furious on one side, and they are defensive on the other.
Here’s the thing: I will never know what it’s like to be black. I can imagine what being black might be like, but I’ll never actually know. I’ll never live an African American upbringing, I’ll never pursue an African American education, and I’ll never find African American employment.
I’ll never know the African American struggle. I will never feel what a black person feels. I’ll never field the same glances blacks receive from passing policemen or strangers or anyone.
White people will never know the black person’s heart, even though many white people think they do. White Christians included.
It’s easy to say “racism is dead” and “get over it” while assuming we are right and they are wrong and we know what they feel and how they should move forward.
But we don’t have a clue what black people feel. I certainly don’t.
As if racism weren’t messy enough, there’s also Indiana’s new “gay law.” We all know about it; I won’t dive into the law itself.
Here’s the thing: I know exactly what it’s like to be gay. Unlike being black, I understand firsthand why people with same-sex attractions want to marry the people they love and be treated as equals. Of course gay people can’t help feeling the way they feel. I get it. I get them.
While we disagree how much racism remains in the twenty-first century, we all unite under the banner of “racism is bad.” The rising tide of gay marriage, however, is another wave altogether. Regardless the culture, many people — many Christians — will always believe “the gays” are bad.
Their so-called “marriages” with quotation marks.
The more accepted homosexuality has become, these Christians have clung harder to their unyielding beliefs. The tighter they cling, the fiercer they lash out, and the more these particular Christians — and thus all Christians — are known not for our love but our anger and angst.
One Kind of Angsty Christian
Angst defined is a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.
“We are all doomed,” the angsty Christians say. They despair from a foundation of fury. “It’s all their fault,” they conclude of the gays and their agenda and our disintegrating culture.
Of course, not every Christian who believes God speaks against homosexual behavior hates gay people. But many angsty Christians do hate gay people and want nothing to do with them, be it in a bakery or any other working establishment.
The less these angsty Christians see, the less they think gay people even exist, the better.
Another Kind of Angsty Christian
Beyond racists and homophobic Christians, there is also another kind of angsty Christian. It is the sexier brand of angsty Christianity attracting thousands to blogs and thousands more to books.
These are the angsty Christians who think the Church is irrevocably broken. They think everything the Church says and does sucks, and they strive to remove themselves from the Church.
Ugh, the Church hates gay people.
Ugh, the Church hates minorities.
Ugh, the Church hates women.
Ugh, the Church is stuck in the first century.
Ugh, the Church is no longer relevant and doesn’t even make sense anymore.
On one side, a fiercely reclusive Church refusing to interact with those beyond their bubbles; on the other, a fiercely independent Church disconnecting from the Body.
I’ve grown annoyed by angsty Christians of all slices, and then I realize I’ve become an angsty Christian myself because of my distaste for all these other angsty Christians. How on earth did we get this way, and how will we ever unite?
Next week, I want to continue this conversation with some thoughts for unification. Harmony is my strength, after all. Or so I’ve been assigned.
Please, let me know your thoughts as well.
For now, let us acknowledge the tension in the room and our Facebook/Twitter feeds. This bristly tension stemming from angsty Christians abroad and maybe ourselves included.
Let’s stop. Let’s breathe. Let’s examine the room.
Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror, and let’s find a way out of this maze.