Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Courage or Cowardice

I've read Facebook comments and blog posts (Matt Walsh comes to mind) that say that Christians who stand up for Gay rights, or marriage equality, or other "liberal" causes are not courageous, but cowardly.

They say that people move toward more open/liberal perspectives because they don't want to go against culture, they want to be accepted, and they don't have the guts to stand up for what is right. They say people are afraid of the persecution that comes with "standing firm for God against culture."

Crap. Total crap.

Over the last 12 years my theology and politics have moved from very far right to pretty far left. Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian had a huge impact on me. It wasn't that his book, and others like it (works by Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Pete Rollins) changed my mind--they helped give words and language to the thoughts and questions that were already swirling in my head.

The rigid religion and selectively literal view of the Bible I had grown up with didn't feel right, or authentic, or honest. Brian McLaren (in his books and a few conversations) helped me see my questions and doubts weren't a sign of unfaithfulness, but honest wrestling with God.

Pete Rollins helped me expand my view of God far beyond the tiny, easily manipulated God of the religious right...

Sidebar--Every once in a while you see stuff like this on facebook:

Child: "Dear God, why didn't you save the children at (insert any school shooting)?"

God: "I'm not allowed in schools."

Really? The God of the universe is unable to act because people have removed him from schools? We have that kind of power over God?
Not the God I seek.

OK, back to my topic...

I'm now at a point where some of my beliefs are at odds with conservative evangelical Christianity (marriage equality, homosexuality, hell, war, immigration, death penalty...)

To those who think I (and others) give in to culture on issues like these--realize this: I did not change because it was easier to agree with culture. Just the opposite, it has been incredibly hard to be open and honest about these changes, because this has created differences with people in the culture that I have always been a part of, and where most of my most precious relationships are--the Church.

I don't care what people in the culture at large think of me. I do care what my former pastors, and mentors, and partners in ministry think of me. I hate that some of them are disappointed in me because they think I have "left the faith," or fallen into "false theology."

I have lost opportunities, and at least one job, because I was honest about my open/liberal/progressive beliefs.

I'm not saying I'm courageous--I wish I had the courage to speak out more, and take action for the things I believe (like people such as Jill McCrory, my graduation partner at Leland).

But I certainly don't support my gay friends, and immigrants, and argue against war and the death penalty, and question eternal hell, because that's the easy way. It's not.  I do it because my relationship with God tells me I must be honest about the beliefs and stances that make sense to my understanding of God and His character.