hate, bigotry and the Christian struggle to love

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(credit:Marina Montoya; Creative Commons)

Fear does some crazy things to people.

Good people. Honest, caring people trying to be as much like Jesus as they can.

At least I’m choosing to believe that they are good, honest, caring people trying to be as much like Jesus as they can. But in a lot of cases self-proclaimed Christians do things so decidedly un-Christ like, antichrist, I’m left spinning.

And while the easy answer here is “you sound awfully judgemental Phil.” I don’t think so, though I’m open to the discussion.

Maybe that is what’s happening. Maybe I’m being judgemental of someone else’s judgementalism. Maybe I’m not being gracious enough. Maybe I’m not being loving enough. I’m willing to be pushed and own what they looks like.

But silence isn’t love either.

Franklin Graham went on a Facebook rant filled with nothing short of hate, fear and bigotry. And while you can say it’s judgemental to say that, it’s also 100% true. Mr. Graham chose to bring no part of Jesus to this discussion. He calls Christians to stand for oppression and to support his hate through force of policy.

I can understand his position and why people hold it. I disagree but I can understand it.

What cannot understand is why that disagreement starts with fear and is then rounded out by viciously dehumanizing language. The image of God is not honoured in any of his “opponents.”

Conjuring images of predators lying in wait in a bathroom is nothing short of fear mongering. And gives no space or understanding to the experience of the community he so quickly dismisses. The fear they face on a daily basis from an unforgiving and violent society. The verbal and physical abuse common in the transgender community is wholly ignored. We need only to listen to their stories and their voices to see the traumatic reality for many who identify as transgendered. To hear the terror that has been ignored by people like me and Frankly Graham for far too long.

Perhaps Mr Graham isn’t saying that all transgendered people are “pedophiles, perverts, and predators” but they are back by “depraved sexual activists.”

Not people. Not children of God. Not deeply love and fearfully created.

They are depraved.

It’s dehumanizing rhetoric that paints all involved as less than human. Less deserving, less worthy, less, less, less.

The lie that transgender people are perverts and predators is real and pervasive. He needs to be aware of the arena he is wading into. The harm and trauma we as a church have caused in the lives of the LBGTQ community is devastating and we can’t just jump in without knowing our own history.

All of this is underpinned by his Christian conviction.

A conviction that has driven him to hate.

To hate for Christ?

How did we get here?

I think we’re all a little more fragile than we’d like to admit.

Most of us try to be strong. We put up strong fronts. We work to show that we are strong people, but we aren’t.

Even those of us who work to show our weakness are still so much more fragile than we say. Because we share the broken and shattered parts of us that we’re ok showing. We show it in the right way to the right people.

But we hide a lot.

I’m interested in what we hide. What lingers in the depths. The things we refuse to even consider could be there. The ideas and parts of us we believe so antithetical to who we are, we don’t even consider they exist in us.

Because they slip out and rarely do we even see it.

They slither their way in and jump out without us seeing it.

We refuse to see it.

We don’t allow for the reality of our actions and words to be a part of our own personal narrative. That our goodness and our holiness is disconnected from the hate, bigotry and racism we spew.

Because we could never be that.

I’m choosing strong language because we far too often run from it. It’s part of why we can’t see what’s really happening. We know what these labels mean. We know immediately how wrong it is to be those things. So rather than reflect and see them in ourselves we hide and recoil at the notion of the words describing us.

Racist.

Bigot.

Sometimes, far more often than I like to admit, I’m a giant tool.

Because for so long I couldn’t see past myself. Everything was about me. I didn’t realize it but it was clearly about me.

My inability to even consider that I could be something so broken. That I could be a racist. That I could be a bigot. That I could not only be complicit, but actively involved in oppression kept me blind to the reality.

I have loved my power more than I have loved people.

I have loved my safety more than I have loved people.

I have loved being right more than I have loved people.

And those have driven me to racism, to bigotry, to overt oppression.

And those same loves have driven people like me, the strong, privilege, powerful, mail, straight, to use all that we are afford to corrupt. To take the words and teachings of Jesus to be a weapon for hate. To deceive the followers of Christ to be the very injustice and sin we are claim our Jesus will fix.

Maybe I’m being to judgmental of Franklin Graham.

But it’s not for lack of awareness of my own plank. It has been an active choice to see my plank, the damage me and those like me have been inflicting for generations that sees so clearly the spec in Mr. Graham’s eye on this one.

We can’t fight for truth and fear our own.

And this time, the truth is far too many of us are racist, bigoted, oppressors.

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