During the year leading up to the November 2012 presidential election, I endured a barrage of postings on my Facebook feed whose message, in a nutshell, was that anyone other than Republicans (especially President Obama and anyone who supported him) was a Godless heathen set upon destroying the country through fiscal and moral ineptitude. Sadly, not much has changed since the election. If that is not your experience, I’m happy for you, but it is mine and I am not exaggerating. I tried for a long time to remain silent because I truly enjoy being involved with friends and family and acquaintances; some of whom I only have contact with via Facebook.
We all have family members who like to go on about things at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner; things which could be construed as racist, bigoted, etc., but we bite our tongues because we love them and remember how they helped us learn to swim or to cook and, besides, we do not want to ruin a perfectly good turkey dinner. Despite our embarrassment for that person, we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that their antics are private-what happens at Christmas dinner stays at Christmas dinner.
But the comments, links, cartoons and rants I was and am experiencing, the type of diatribe that over the decades of my life had previously been observed only in intimate settings when friends and family “let their hair down”, is now being put out there for all to see, resplendent in its falsity, anger, bitterness, racism, bigotry, hatred and sometimes downright craziness. What I have witnessed suggests that many do not care that they are observed in acts that are, in my mind, equivalent to being caught cursing in church; something for which we might feel shame or regret.
Over the months, it was becoming quite clear, and I was growing more and more alarmed, that lies, distortion, attempts to humiliate and degrade, and the quests to destroy someone’s reputation through the promulgation of conspiracy theories was a new badge of honor, worn proudly by a group who considered themselves the only “true” Americans and the only “true” Christians. Yes, I am finally getting to the title of this post: Nobody cares what Jesus said, including Christians.
I don’t know when it first started, but at some point the Republican party became associated with the Christian party (I mean Church.) Christians and Republicans forged a marriage of convenience over abortion and gay marriage. And for better or worse, until death do them part, now each is a reflection of the other. In my opinion, this marriage has done nothing to promote the Kingdom of God -quite the opposite, really – even if it has helped some Republicans get elected to office.
Whenever a Republican calls a Democrat a “libturd”, refers to the first lady as “YoMama”, talks about “legitimate” rape, refers to single mothers (those who DID NOT have an abortion) as “welfare moms”, calls women who use birth control “sluts” and “prostitutes”, calls anyone who disagrees with them “pinheads”, and refers to the president as the “idiot in chief”…well, it trashes the image of Jesus. You cannot spread the Good News while you are participating in, condoning, or not publically condemning this behavior. It is impossible.
No, not all Christians are participating in these shenanigans but, sadly, many are. But when you have thrown in with a group, it is not good enough that you just avoid the behavior. Christians are not doing enough to either get the Church out of politics or show they are different than the Republicans who are participating. That does not mean Christians cannot have strong beliefs nor does it mean they cannot talk to politicians and try and make their case, but that is not what Christians are doing. They are actually involved in partisan politics to the extent that Republicans and Christians are becoming one-in-the-same and any bad behavior that one participates in becomes the image bestowed upon the other. And that image has not, in recent years, been one of Christ.
Over the years, I have received much needed comfort from the words of Jesus; especially in light of the harsh realities of this world and also the Old Testament world. There are so many legalistic Christians who want to point out that Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law as Jesus stated in Matthew 5:17. But the Bible cannot be read in a vacuum, dissected and regurgitated piecemeal to make whatever point we want to make at any particular moment. No, a careful reading of that scripture should tell us that Jesus was trying to teach us that He was there because we did not have the ability to follow the law. We had to be better than the Pharisees to even have a chance of seeing heaven, and we should all know how Jesus viewed the Pharisees’ chances of attaining the Kingdom of God.
Immediately after Jesus utters the words of Matthew 5:17, He tries to teach His people that they didn’t have a clue what it meant to follow the Law. It wasn’t enough not to murder, but you should not be angry with your brother. It wasn’t enough not to commit adultery, but you should not even look at another with lust. You shouldn’t go about swearing on heaven or on earth, but instead put into practice what you say by following through with actions; let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No”, “No.” There is the letter of the law and there is the spirit of the law and Jesus was showing us how woefully inadequate we were to successfully conquer either.
As a Christian, I know that Jesus came and died to relieve us from the burden of trying to follow the Law perfectly. The fact that so many Christians want to revert to the legalistic requirements of the Old Testament is the same as saying that Jesus came and died for NOTHING. Some Christians may want to send that gift back, but I don’t.
Jesus spent his time on earth teaching love and forgiveness and He went out amongst the tax collectors and the prostitutes. He admonished those that judged them, including His disciples. Can you imagine Jesus advising us before ascending into heaven to listen to the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys and Glen Becks of this world because they would serve as a proxy for all that is righteous, moral, loving, and forgiving?
It is only through this marriage of Christians and Republicans that I have come to understand that there are more Scrooges in the Church than I thought and there are fewer Mother Theresas than I imagined. It makes me sad. I used to believe that Christians were generous, but many today act as if caring about your fellow human being is a sin. It may surprise some to know that even Billy Graham’s teachings are thought to be too liberal by some Christians today.
Yes, I know that following Christ is more than just doing a few good deeds, but when pressed by His disciples to distill down the commandments into the most important, Jesus said that we should love the Lord with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t know how you can do the first without attempting the latter. The actions of Christians today explain why no one else cares what Jesus had to say, but as Christians, we need to ask ourselves why we’ve stopped caring.