Hurting Evangelicals

When someone writes or tweets or posts on Facebook as I do then you can be certain of one truth: the individual is hurting. My hurting has been compounded lately by the careless insensitivity, coldness, and indifference of professing evangelicals whose advice remains: "grow up," "grow a pair," or "get over it." Then they wonder why I write like I do: they wonder why I name them as being toxic, ungodly, unChristian. They wonder why I charge their "religion" as being, at its core, merely the promotion of politically conservative values of Republicanism.

If you do not care about the feelings of others, about their well-being and their equality as human beings created in the image of God and as citizens with equal rights in your country, then you do not qualify as a Christ-follower. Your religion is worthless. Your faith is a delusion. You believe in a different Jesus, a different Gospel, and a different God than that of the Bible. How do I know this to be true? Jesus tells me so: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) This saying is paramount to the faith.

Pay close attention to what Jesus did not say. He did not suggest that people will know that the believer is a true believer by his theological propositions, or by his Christian t-shirts, or her Christian bumper stickers, or by following Franklin Graham into the voting booth to further the Republican political cause, or by reading the ESV or the NASB or the NKJV in your Southern Baptist church. Those, then, that do not love are not disciples of Jesus. The Greek word used for "love" at John 13:35 is ἀγάπην, a word generally conceived by conservatives to refer to a self-sacrificial love, one that prefers another before oneself. (cf. Rom. 12:9-21) What does that look like in our post-postmodern context?

Jesus teaches His true disciples: "Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also [for further insult]; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you." (Matt. 5:29-42) What does this mean? This means that your so-called rights are to be forfeited to your imagined enemies. Jesus' teaching here was radical to the extreme for the first-century Jewish mindset. But this teaching applies to us believers today.

For example, same-sex marriage was found as not being unconstitutional in this country, and same-sex couples have been granted the right to wed. If this offends you, as a follower of Christ, you are to endure the offense. If a same-sex couple requests you bake a cake for their wedding then, according to Jesus' words at Matthew 5:38-42, you bake the cake for their same-sex wedding.

Now, in context, Jesus is referring to someone who is mistreating a believer. In such a case, the believer is called to endure the mistreatment, and provide even more than what is being requested. In the case of the same-sex couple desiring a cake, that couple is not even mistreating the believer, but merely requesting a service that the believer provides to all people in general. Of course the believer should bake the cake! There can be no question here. The believer who opposes same-sex marriage no more affirms the union of the homosexual couple than the believer affirms the union of the heterosexual couple for whom a cake is prepared. The purpose of the occasion of cake-eating should be irrelevant to the baker. But conservative evangelicals have politicized even the eating of cake.

For all the good that many evangelicals have performed, they have also been guilty of hurting a multitude of people, people whom God loves and for whom Christ gave His very life. They have been misled by evangelical leaders who use the Bible as a weapon against people of color, historically; against LGBTQ people, keeping them out of the kingdom of heaven, a trait well-crafted by the Pharisees of Jesus' day (Matt. 23:13); against progressive believers who long to live out Jesus' teaching of compassion, mercy, grace and understanding to the marginalized; against women, by keeping them in their place, which is in the home; against "secularists" who either do not believe in God or are agnostic; and, truly, against anyone who opposes their right wing Republican agenda.

I have been blogging against such evangelicals on this site and, by tone and rhetoric, I have been perceived as angry and bitter. I have been warned against developing a bitter spirit: "Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled." (Heb. 12:14-15) St Paul frames the matter thusly: "If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Rom. 12:18) Note the qualifier: "If it is possible." I find living peaceably with conservative evangelicals impossible so long as they oppose LGBTQ people, suppress the Spirit-giftedness of women in pulpit ministry, and think that Republicanism is "the Christian vote." The religion of evangelicals then becomes Republicanism.

Let me inform you of a truth: though the Religious Right does at times anger me; though I may seem rather bitter at conservative evangelicals; what you do not see is the anguish in my heart for deceived evangelicals and those they are hurting. I actually do care about evangelicals. As a matter of fact, if I did not care, then I would not write about their ideas, their actions, their words. I would merely leave them alone and not call them to repentance for their blatant sins and hypocrisies. But I must write: I must at least attempt to protect and shield the ones who are being hurt by evangelicals. I must tell people that they do not represent the teachings of Jesus, but that they have been misled, that they have lost their way. Perhaps in the process my own wounds will heal.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.