This is our truth, tell us yours
Increasingly the Christian right is trying to make itself out to be “the real victims here“. This week a new low was reached as one group tried to pretend being a small-minded bigot somehow carries the same weight of stigma and risks as being LGBT. Newsflash, it doesn’t, and until there is a queer equivalent of Fox run by a megalomanic billionaire, it wont. Whilst its common for us to mock this as an American affliction its pretty prevalent in the UK too. Both in the UK and the US these groups seem to be confusing being a part of the capitalist hegemony with being Christian. We used to be a Christian country they cry. Oddly enough Christian doesn’t mean looking after the outcast, the weak, the sick. No, a Christian country apparently means a slave-owning one, a one which started wars, colonized other countries, turned a blind eye to the rape of children.
Attending church does not make you a Christian, high church attendance does not make a country Christian. The past these people look back towards with such rose-tinted spectacles was one where being Christian was the default. It did not mean people acted in a Christian manner anymore than going to a restaurant makes you a chef. Societal pressure, respectability, and the very human need to fit in have always been important motivations in church attendance, as people as diverse as Rowan Atkinson to Jane Austen have noted. Indeed Austen’s novels are peppered with unChristian clergymen, and given her father’s occupation its easy to speculate that they were drawn from real life examples. (It’s also interesting, to me at least that Elton, one of the few truly dislikable people in Austen’s world comes from money made from the slave trade). There has always been an understanding by those who cared about such things that the outward performance of Christianity was not enough to be a Christian, and this applies to states as well as individuals. There is another aspect to this, which is the strange idea these groups have that the default position of Christians is one of power and authority. Sometimes I wonder if they have even read the new testament, it’s entirely possible that many have not. It goes to my preceding thoughts on a Christian identity being one of respectability and fitting in, rather than a life changing way of being. Jesus did not come to make sure you had good business contacts and networking opportunities. Nor was the point earthly power and control. He lived as an outcast, died as an outcast and encouraged his followers to do the same.
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another
Here it its put pretty bluntly, as a Christian you aren’t meant to be comfortable, trotting of to church once a week and not letting it impact the rest of your life. I very doubt anyone reading this (assuming anyone but Carter reads these) is familiar with the left behind series. I would not recommend them, the theology is poor, the anti Semitism strong and the writing makes EL James look literate. However they do get one thing spot on, faith is formed by not being in power, by not being those with authority, by it not being respectable and good for the bank balance. There is of course an issue here that some may say that this proves their opposition to same-sex marriage is Godly, since it leaves them outside of the mainstream. The answer to that is that disagreeing with a law is not being persecuted, not being able to be hateful is not an oppression, and treating others without the love our Lord showed for the outcast is most certainly not Christian.