Gay bashers are giving Christianity a bad name

“I am not ashamed of the gospel,” wrote St. Paul. And this has been a rallying cry for Christians for ages, especially when faced with criticism about how they act and are. But sometimes it’s hard to be a thinking person and not believe that the world would be a better place if some who call themselves Christian and are sure they are doing the Lord’s bidding were just to stand down.

The attempt to spread bigotry and intolerance–as in this Guardian article, where American fundamentalists are setting up offices to “fight homosexuality” in Africa–does make me ashamed of being a Christian. These fine folks are doing the same in other parts of the world, including my own country, Jamaica, where in recent years they have fanned into even hotter fury the fires of anti-homosexuality–this in an already homophobic society.

If someone were to ask me am I a Christian, I’d have to say, “Yes, but…” But I’m not one who thinks gay people are not made in the image of God. But I’m not one who thinks I’m duty bound to “stand up” against gay people. But, I’m not one who is perverting the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is one of love.

Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Which part of this is ambiguous? What is so hard to understand?

And who gave them the right to police the world on behalf of Jesus? Even if they truly believe homosexuality is a sin, didn’t Jesus say, “Let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest”? Why are they, as Christians, going against Christ’s expressed will?

Thinking Christians have to take back the narrative from those who are spreading hate in the name of our Jesus. We need to be as methodical and as evangelical, as it were, in countering their gospel of darkness, with Jesus’ Gospel of light, love, and life.

Because they are not true followers of Jesus. They are not real Christians, and are giving the rest of us a bad name.

“Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”

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On human dignity

 

St.Alban the Martyr–source Wikipedia

Last week the church celebrated the feast day of St. Alban the Martyr. I don’t think I knew anything about him before, but I learnt he was a Roman soldier who gave refuge to a Christian priest from the authorities who wanted to kill him. He had been convinced of Christianity by the priest. So when the authorities came to arrest the priest, he dressed up as the latter and basically took his place, refusing to recant his new faith. He was beheaded. Also beheaded was the first man who was to have been his executioner, and who on hearing his story refused to do the deed. So was the priest, who found out too late what Alban had intended and rushed to the scene. So all three were beheaded at the site of what is now St Alban’s Cathedral, England.

Essentially, it seems to me, while Alban and the first executioner died for their beliefs, the priest seems to have died for martyrdom. So it’s appropriate that his name is unremembered. (Important to remember that the church forbids people to seek martyrdom. If it comes to you, all well and good. But don’t run into the arena with the lions; wait till they toss you in.)

But, I’m thinking about what it takes to face death unafraid. I actually don’t think it has anything to do with faith. I think it has more to do with self respect and dignity.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar says:  ”It seems to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”

Even though Shakespeare makes Caesar sound terribly pompous in the scene, I wonder if it’s not that realization–the necessary end–that causes the unflinching that we see at some deaths and makes us call men and women heroes, or martyrs, as we choose.

Saddam Hussein, not anyone’s idea of a hero, refused to be blindfolded at his hanging, but looked his executioners in the face and refused to respond to their taunts. I read recently of some eight generals in Greece who in 1922 were tried and convicted of treason after the war between their country and Turkey. They were scapegoats, really, for the Greek defeat, but they faced their death bravely, not one taking the blindfold. Similar stories are told of the aristocrats going to the guillotine, even the dignity of Marie Antoinette herself. There are lots of other examples from divers walks of life.

So, was it faith in an afterlife, or in a loving God, or something else?

I think it was simply that though we shun and fear death when we don’t know when it might come, and where it may lie before us on our path, when “the necessary end” stares us in the face, we want to stare back at it with dignity, and say: come do your worst, you can’t kill me, the essential me.

 Again, Shakespeare–my favourite philosopher!–has Malcolm say of the traitorous Thane of Cawdor: “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it.” Even “cowards” can die well.

Instinctively, perhaps, we want to remain unbowed to the last, no matter our faith or our beliefs, or even the course of our lives.

 Humans. We are really intriguing.