This is the first time since becoming Christian and knowing I am called to ministry that I’ve seriously considered throwing in the towel. It’s the first time in almost eight years that I’ve seriously considered breaking my sobriety. It’s the first time since my early twenties that I’ve faced serious depression. What is happening in the world and in the church right now is wrong.
Since the election everything has been turned upside down. People felt they really needed a change and I understand that. I thought we really needed a big change too and was very sad when Bernie lost the nomination. I haven’t been deluded that the government establishment works for the people for a long time.
However, the current change and how it’s come about is coming at too great a cost and I’ve got to say something. Right now, silence = complicity in some very bad business and I cannot participate in the denial. I can’t pretend that what is happening now isn’t happening.
Over the course of history, the church has participated in some of the most heinous atrocities the world has known due to an over developed relationship to the political structure/party in power. We see this recently and quite clearly in the church’s silence and, therefore, implicit involvement in Pinochet’s regime of torture and ‘the disappeared’ in Chile. Sadly, we are in another time in history where the church (the Evangelical Church in particular) and the present political power structure are far too closely aligned. I am deeply disturbed by this fact.
The incoming political administration in the US carries all the messages of prejudice, selfishness, judgment, hate and destruction that come part and parcel with the unbridled lust for power. I was ready to give Trump a chance when the election was won according to the rules of the electoral college (though not the popular vote), but his cabinet appointments, his inaction to take a stand against the proliferation of hate crimes since his emergence onto the political stage and his complete denial of ecological truths leave me no choice but to say ‘if it walks and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.’ There is no denying the racist, misogynist, fascist and anti-life stirrings that have been given voice and permission through his leadership, and yet, much of the Evangelical Church is right in step.
My heart is broken.
Coming to Christ has been gloriously beautiful and life changing. I have come to love the church deeply, with a reverence and respect for all the beauty she has contributed to the world over the centuries, yet I am intensely ashamed to say so today. The church at this time is not a city on hill offering sustenance and refuge to the weary traveller. Rather, he is witless and tone deaf to the very real cries of those who suffer at his hand. He shrieks over and over, declaring himself as the victim of persecution rather than the perpetrator of it.
And, yes, I know. . .
They’re SINNERS!! They’re SINNING! They’re LIVING IN SIN!!!!!
It goes AGAINST GOD’S ORDER FOR THEM TO EXIST!
They should be MINDING THE RULES LIKE ALL THE REST OF US HAVE TO!
STOP EXPECTING SPECIAL TREATMENT AND GET A JOB!!!
THEY WANT TO KILL US!!!
You CAN’T CHANGE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES TO FIT IN WITH CULTURE!!
I’ve heard all the justifications for the church’s exclusion of others ad nauseam.
What else do you have to say church?… Anything?
If you do, speak it louder please, because it isn’t being heard over all of the toxic rhetoric.
And what do I do? I’ve come to love many people in the church. I consider them friends, family even. Yet, the people I’ve come to love put Trump and what he represents in power and they’re happy about it, not because they’re racist for the most part, but because they’re more concerned with their own concerns. Or they put Trump in power and they’re not glad about it, but, by and large they aren’t saying anything out loud to stand with those who are justifiably scared and hurting.
On the other side, real people are being threatened, devalued, and hated in exchanges all over the place. Their fear and outrage is valid. These cries are much more than simply being ‘sore losers’. Furthermore, these people who are scared and victimized are the other people I love and consider friends and family. I go to church on Sundays and all I can think is ‘Where is the outrage here?! Why isn’t everyone outraged at what is happening?! How are you smiling and acting as if it’s all OK when it isn’t?”
I love the people on both sides of this schism. On either side, the people I love are hurting the other people I love, but, truly, I expect more from God’s church. The pain of what is happening now is unbearable.
So, I guess the first thing I do is I say something. Here goes…
I am a Christian.
I stand with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I stand with Black Lives and First Nation People and all other groups who are systemically oppressed. I stand with Women. I stand with Creation and prioritize protecting the natural systems that God made over the human desires for ever increasing consumption.
I also stand with the church and believe she will correct her errors. I know there is goodness at the heart of her. I stand with my Christian brothers and sisters and hope using my own voice will give courage to those who wish to witness Christ in love and mercy rather than judgment, hate and lust for power. I know you’re out there.
Above all, I stand with Christ, who relinquished his own status and power as God in order to become fully human and meet us exactly as we are. He did not shame us in our humanity, but rather gave honor to even ‘the worst’ of us, inviting us to sit with him at his table, to eat with him. He invited us and invites us still to walk with him in relationship, healing, reconciliation and redemption.
Here is the only message I can carry…
Whoever you are, God LOVES you. Claim your place at Christ’s table and in God’s heart. Claim your place and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t waiting for you. I stand with you. I pray God will give me the courage to stand with you always. And so does Christ. CLAIM YOUR PLACE.
And I claim mine.
I don’t know exactly where I’m going to land in all of this. As I continue in ministry I know I MUST do so within a community who speaks most loudly the message of inclusion and grace. Silence is no longer an option for me. The price is too high. I hope others will join me.
God, help me trust you to deliver us all into honesty and true righteousness. Amen.