I like current events.
I like to keep up with what’s happening. I really like to know what’s going on in the Christian sphere as it were. I find it just fascinating to see what Christians are up to, though I’m often frustrated. We are a huge population, with wildly divergent ideas on almost everything. From liberal to conservative, progressive to fundamental, Catholic to Protestant to Anabaptist. We cover a lot of ground. So there is going to be good and bad.
One of the things I’m finding more and more it seems are stories of people living out their faith in ways I’m struggling to find common ground with. Maybe I’m just paying attention now. Maybe it’s not new at all. And it’s not because I don’t understand their belief or question their conviction. I do, even when I decidedly disagree with where they get, find a way to see the path. What I am finding more and more of a struggle is when a person wants to live out their faith and their beliefs, then goes and does something entirely different.
Case and point, a barber in California refused to cut the hair of a transgender man. He has claimed it would violate his religious beliefs to cut the hair of a woman. There are layers upon layers to this story to be discussed and debated, but there is one line in the stood out to me.
The barber is quoted as saying “It’s not our intention at all to discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation, based on their gender or any such thing like that”
Be he still does discriminate based on gender.
He clearly states it’s not his intention to discriminate as a response to a question around why he is discriminating. He is wanting, as best as I can tell, to live out the bible and his faith the way he was taught and the way he understands it.
But here’s the part I’m struggling with, and it happens all the time. He is discriminating. That part isn’t up for debate. So why would he say it’s not his intention? If his intention is to not discriminate, all he has to do is not discriminate.
I think this happens all the time.
We talk about woman in ministry in the church and say things like “we aren’t sexist and never would be, this is just God’s plan for leadership.” And while you can argue that plan and the validity of the theology, the fact remains that interpretation is sexist.
Over and over we can see cases of people living out their faith in ways that are discriminatory, sexist, racist, and bigoted. What we don’t see over and over is people owning that reality of their faith. It doesn’t stop being discriminatory, sexist, racist, and bigoted because God said it’s how we are to live. Your interpretation of God’s word and his call for how you live out your live does nothing to change the label applied to that type of thinking or action.
But we will balk and rail against the notion that we are any of those.
Few and far between are the Christians who understand the bible to say woman cannot lead who will also loudly and proudly say they are sexists. It’s clear to everyone around, especially those outside the church. Even fewer will say God is sexist, though it’s his sexist ideas they claim to be holding to.
If you don’t like being called a discriminatory, sexist, racist, bigot stop acting like one. Stop promoting those ideas. You don’t get to hide behind the bible here. If you don’t like when people critique your theology or your churches position as discriminatory, sexist, racist, bigoted then stop believing in a discriminatory, sexist, racist, bigoted God. Stop promoting him and acting that way.
If that’s your understanding own it. Own that you believe God is sexist. Own that you believe God is a bigot. Own that you believe God is a racist.
You believe it anyway, shying away from the labels doesn’t make that beliefs any less true or less evident in your life. If it’s the truth of the scripture, the truth of God’s word, the gospel that saves and uplifts and sustains then scream from the mountain tops about your love and allegiance to a God who is discriminatory, sexist, racist, bigot. Those labels simply define the truth you so desperately want to share. The truth that’s changed your life. Be clear and proud and confident in God and the truths he’s taught you and revealing to you.
But if you hear that and think “God can’t be racist. He can’t be a bigot or sexist. Those labels cannot apply to God” the answer is not to simply remove the labels. They apply because of the action and ideas associated and promoted on his behalf.
If the proper label is hard to hear and inconsistent with you or who you understand God to be then don’t fight the label and deem it unacceptable. No! Rather see the reality and wrestle with the idea of is God a bigot? Is God is sexist?
If he’s not those things then what is the problem here? Is it really the objective label that is simply describing a belief, an action, a way of being that’s the problem?
Or are we the problem?
I think this is when we start to see how some people begin to reflect on their beliefs. When we use the right words rather than lie to ourselves and wrestle with what we are and what we say God is, who we say God is, we start to see where we may be missing God. We start to see where God may be working. We start to see what is God and what is culture, what is learned, what is ingrained in us.
We actually start to let God work in us when we start to see that the God we are defending and the life we are living aren’t what he wanted or who He is.
Is God a sexist? No.
Is God a bigot? No.
Is God a racist? No.
Is God discriminatory? No.
At least not the God I know. Too bad it’s the one many of us still cling to, whether we choose see it or not.