Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Love Your Neighbor, Whether He Likes It Or Not

This just turned up on my wall on Facebook.  Someone along the line added the comment, "Great to hear a different voice speaking from within the Christian Church."

It's a common complaint that 'we' only hear from the most "narrow-minded, judgmental, deceptive, manipulative" segments of the Christian churches.  But it's false.  (That categorization, however, is certainly judgmental.)  There are lots of nice liberal, tolerant, accepting, inclusive Christians speaking out, and they even get into the media; so someone hasn't been paying attention.  This reminds me of the people, often gay, who watch a Gay Pride parade and can only see the drag queens and leathermen and bare-breasted motorcycle dykes, ignoring PFLAG, the marching bands, and all the other less 'exotic' gay people.  But that is different anyway, because drag queens, leathermen, and Dykes on Bikes don't hurt anybody, while bigots do.

It's just as dishonest to pretend that right-wing Christians are not really Christians as it is to pretend that liberal and leftist Christians aren't really Christians.  "Not all Christians are like that" applies just as much to Martin Luther King, Jr. as it does to Pat Robertson.  Right-wing Christians are not an insignificant portion of the faithful, whether we're talking about the US or worldwide.  More important, it's not very clear exactly what "Christianity" is.  I think most people would say that it means following the teachings of Jesus, but no Christian follows all his teachings, and most have little idea what he taught anyway.  I constantly run up against people who are sure that some modern Christian doctrine they dislike is at odds with Jesus, even when it's in the gospels.  (End-times expectations, for example.)  Knowing that someone is a Christian doesn't tell you much more about what they believe or practice than knowing that someone is an atheist tells you.

Finally, look at that slogan at the bottom of the billboard: "Christianity For All."  Maybe the people responsible meant something like "Treat all people in a Christian manner," though I would still press the question of which Christian manner.  But I'm not feeling all that charitable tonight, and anyway, the name of the church is a giveaway.  The MissionGathering Church probably wants everyone to be a Christian, which is reasonable for Christians ("Make disciples of all nations," the risen Jesus told his disciples) but not for everybody.  No, thanks.  There are millions of people who don't want to be Christians.  Not all of them are atheists; most just belong to other sects.  It would be interesting to see how the MissionGathering Church missionaries react to people who say "No, thanks" when they come preaching the Good News.  Maybe they'll be nice about it, but I'll bet they only retreat to proselytize another day.