I have several gay friends. If you know me at all, you know that to be true.
I’m also a Christian. If you know me, you know that to be true, as well.
Lately, though, I’ve wondered if I’m about done with the term “Christian.” I don’t think I want to be known in that way anymore. I think I’d rather be called anything but what that term has come to mean in America.
Why in the world would I say such a thing, you ask? Well, let me tell you a story.
The other day, a friend of mine (who happens to be gay) shared an article on Facebook about a certain waiter’s recent experience at a Carrabba’s restaurant with a “Christian” couple. I won’t go into the details of that story. You can read it here.
What struck me immediately was what an affront to Christianity this couple had been, and how I instantly felt the need to apologize to my friend, who had clearly been extremely hurt by association, on behalf of all reasonable Christians. I realized he was hurt by association, and that’s when I realized, so was I!
The acts of Christianity that this couple demonstrated were nothing of the kind of Christianity I want to be associated with. If their beliefs are the true ways of the faith, I want nothing to do with it. If their “God” is the true God in whom I live and move and have my being, then I firmly and defiantly announce that there is no God.
So, that’s where I was. That’s where my mind and heart had gotten to the other day when I read my friend’s post. I struggled quite a bit with what to do and how to feel. Then, I changed my mind.
I still feel the same way about not wanting anything to do with the Christianity of the Carrabba’s couple, but I’m not going to give up the name “Christian.” I refuse to let the name of a movement that is so vitally important to the world be co-opted by those who are too ignorant to live by the precepts of the one for whom the movement is named.
Instead, I vow to change the conversation.
Now, I fully understand that there are those (many of whom are my friends) who will say to me, “Scott, you can’t just pick and choose the kind of Christianity you want. You’re practicing a “buffet-style” version, where you pick what you like and disregard the rest.”
To that, I say, “Look again!”
Look again at the Scriptures. Look again at the ways of your faith and the ways of Jesus. Look again at when the Bible was written and to whom it was first given. Look again with your heart. Look again with a new set of lenses. The lenses of many are dirty, scratched, and in need of a new prescription.
If you believe your lenses go all the way back to the first century, I’ll ask you to look again. Do they actually go back to the 19th century? Dig deeper. Look harder. Get uncomfortable.
Ask yourself not, “What is it I believe?” but, rather, “What am I doing? What is my contribution to this world, this creation, this life?”
I’ve grown very tired of defending the experiential reality of Jesus and what that means in response to Facebook posts like my friend’s while my secular-humanist friends go about actually living it. They challenge me every day to ask myself, “What are you actually doing to make the world a better place?” For that (and for many other things), I owe them much thanks!
At the same time, though, I’m not ready to chuck the name of the one in whom I believe. I’m also not going to sit idly by while acts done “in the name of God” and bullying rhetoric thinly veiled as “God’s word” trample upon and undermine the very mission and message of the one who came to redeem us all.
I’m not asking anyone to believe the same way I do. Work things out for yourself.
But, I will stand up for my faith. I will not remain silent while people starve and freeze at night and long for justice and call out for God to do something. God has already done something–he made you and he made me, and he has called us. God has called us to participate in a life where God’s ways and our ways are one and the same.
Every time a “Carrabba’s couple” speaks and acts the way they do, the message gets distorted. It’s like they somehow got to the end of the line in a game of telephone gone horribly wrong. The message they’ve come away with is not the one it was at the beginning, and I’m not okay with it.
I’m sick of what’s being said, and I’m changing the conversation!
Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang