Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Holy War, Batman!

The message many people seem to have drawn, from the terrorist insanity that has so ramped-up in the world since 9-11, is that all religious people are nuts. This is unfortunate for a variety of reasons, not least of which because it is not true.

I believe the Holy Spirit is trying to move within the Christian world. One of the signs of this, I think, is that Christian behavior is being contrasted, in the public mind, against that of radical Islam. It is not fair to say that Evangelical Christians, or conservative Catholics, are on a par with Muslim fundamentalists who murder people because some Danish cartoonists drew funny pictures of Muhammad. Christianity should be better than that, because Jesus SAID we were supposed to be better. I just made a value judgment -- oh, shame on me!

I am confident that Christians who truly follow Christ's example will come off looking better than people of ANY religion who commit murder in the very name of their faith. If you want to call me "intolerant" for this, so be it. The Holy Spirit does not permit us to murder. Those of us in whom the Spirit dwells will prove incapable of such a thing.

Christians in the United States own their own government. We have a greater obligation than do those in many other lands. When our government commits crimes in our name, we have the final veto-power over what is done. I do not approve of killing civilians -- even in the name of "freedom." Granted, the Muslim extremists seem to make this necessary when they hide themselves amid civilian populations, but does this really place us at the disadvantage under which it seems to pin us?

Any religion that condones letting terrorists hide amid civilians has something very wrong with it. I refuse to be "multiculturalist" and say this isn't so. But we still have a choice. Do we succumb to the temptation to bomb civilian centers, using that as an excuse, or do we strive to find another way? THAT is where those in our society who claim the name of Christian can make all the difference.

A post of mine, from a few days ago, is creating quite a bit of commentary attention. I welcome this, as it shows that more people are reading this Blog, but when people say irresponsible things in connection with Born on 9-11, I feel I have a moral duty to offer tough love in reply. In my response to one of those comments, I said that if we permit our troops to kill civilians -- but say nothing in protest against this -- we are willing participants in murder. Is it "supporting the troops" to offer their leaders no moral guidance in matters of war? Sorry, but I don't think so.

We had nothing to say about when, where, or under what circumstances we were to be born. God could have placed us anywhere, at any time, and in any circumstances. We could have been galley-slaves in ancient Egypt, or serfs in tsarist Russia. But we are not. We were born amid the freest people in human history, and have more to say about how our government conducts itself than have any other people on earth.

On the Day of Judgment, we will be held accountable for HOW OUR LIVES HAVE IMPACTED OTHERS. All this running around, babbling about "homosexuality" and the like is designed, I believe, to evade this central truth. A couple of the commenters on this Blog seem to have conveniently forgotten that.

There is no moral difference between sending other people to go commit murder in your name and going out with a bomb or gun and committing murder yourself. Those who claim they do not believe this are lying. Otherwise they would protest when a person who has hired a hit-man to rub somebody out is convicted of murder himself.

This is why, though I hope for the best in Iraq and Afghanistan, I refuse to condone the killing of civilians there. A very large part of supporting the youngsters we send over to fight in these faraway lands is having the moral backbone to insist that our country stand on the side of Right -- no matter how inconvenient it may be.

Of course there is no way to totally avoid civilian deaths. But there have been untold thousands of civilians killed -- many of them small children and helpless elderly folks -- and our government refuses even to count the number of dead. I can assure you that God counts them. The troops who were merely doing their jobs will not be held accountable for following the orders they were given -- no military can function unless orders are followed -- but WE will be held accountable for having looked the other way.

I have great difficulties with liberal Christians, as I have already made clear. They claim that the Holy Spirit is moving in their midst, but they do their utmost to silence any Christians who disagree with their agenda. I don't like some of what conservative Christians are saying, either, but I refuse to try and silence them. The Holy Spirit can only work effectively when those who follow Christ are united, at least in terms of mutual respect.

Each side -- both Christian Left and Christian Right -- is now trying to shut the other up. The confusion coming from those who comment negatively on things I say on this Blog seems, to me, to be motivated largely by this. Their leaders paint liberal Christians as one-dimensionally evil, which is not only unfair but untrue. But liberal Christians do the same darned thing to them.

Why should Christians who want to support greater inclusivity in the Church have to sign onto a whole raft of other presuppositions, too? It isn't enough for those who support gay rights, for example, to simply tackle that issue in and of itself -- I hear them trying to persuade Right-Wing Christians that they are "intolerant" simply because they believe that Christ is the Savior.

Hello...many gay Christians also believe that when Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through me," He meant it. And that He knew what He was talking about. Wouldn't it be nice if Evangelical gays could march alongside liberal mainline gay Christians in support of equal rights for gays and lesbians? We won't be able to do this if we are told that, in order to show solidarity with those on the Left, we must deny our Lord.

I don't believe that Jesus was simply some nice hippie-dude who lived a while two thousand years ago, came up with a few good ideas, and then died. Nor do I believe that all there is to the Christian faith is playing nice, being fair and not running with scissors. As I also said somewhere on a previous occasion, we are not all ten years old, and life is not just somebody's birthday party.

Equal rights for gays MUST include the right for each and every one of us to think for ourselves, to read the Bible for ourselves, and to form our own conclusions. I never felt the same degree of intense and unrelenting pressure to conform from the Religious Right that I now get from the Religious Left. I certainly would like to think that, in having come out as a lesbian, I haven't merely exchanged one closet, or one mask, for another.

Right-Wing Christians are confused. Janice and "Wishyaknewme" -- my two hard-headed Evangelical commenters from that previous post -- are living proof of this. But given all the nonsense they so often hear from the Christian Left, I can hardly blame them.

If we don't stand up to the hetersexual Christians who say they support us, and tell them to stop unnecessarily antagonizing our conservative brothers and sisters in Christ, we have only ourselves to blame for the pea-soup-fog of confusion that persists on gay rights issues. We have no business demanding that Evangelical Christians abandon their convictions about Jesus Christ in order to support us. They do not need to do that, and in fact, if they are truly to follow Jesus as Son of God and Savior of the World, they MUST learn to support us.

Conservative Christians are now under the delusion that when the teachings of Christ seem to get in the way of protecting religious orthodoxy, they must be discarded. Go back, again, and read the Gospel accounts of Jesus's arrest, trial, passion and death. Go back and read again of those who thought that He must die to preserve religious truth: those "good religious people" who even ordered, after they had killed Him, that His tomb be sealed. It is more important, to their modern-day spiritual heirs, to exclude people than it is to reach out and listen to them. They are trying to seal that tomb all over again, and their "doctrinally-correct" guards stand armed and at the ready.

What I see happening, on the Religious Left, however, is a whole 'nother religion being formed. They don't seem to understand that the only reason we should follow what Jesus says is BECAUSE HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS. Nor can they go on claiming that Right-Wingers use Jesus as a figurehead if they're going to do the same thing.

I am willing to let the Holy Spirit work in the Church today and in the future. This means that even though I disagree with anti-gay Christians, I refuse to let my dislike of them curdle into a stance so defiant that it poisons any possibility of dialogue with them. I'll play plenty rough with them, and they may find some of what I say insulting, but hey -- if they're gonna dish it out, they'd better be able to take it. Let's us Christians show that we can settle our differences without guns, bombs or blind and tomb-sealed silence.

Doctrinal orthodoxy and compassionate inclusion are two different sides of the very same coin. Let's not try to make two totally separate religions out of the same Christian faith. And let us never have another holy war in the Name of the One who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers."


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