Stop making us look silly!!!

by - Wednesday, January 09, 2013

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. 

Today, there has been a story going around on the interwebs that a new ABC ad of Neil Patrick Harris is mocking Tim Tebow and therefore our Christian faith as it stands. This is the photo-

Are you shocked and disgusted? Does his mere gayness disgust you? Apparently Tebow puts Bible verses on his face while he plays in a similar manner, and the suggestion is that putting this on his face is somehow a mockery of that practice. This is the statement going around (quoted from the blog):

"CBS, the television network airing the big game this year, is now using an outspoken homosexual actor to mimic Tim Tebow’s style of trumpeting messages in eyeblack on his face," WND wrote. Adding that "Tim Tebow, known for his Christian faith as well as football, became world famous for proclaiming Bible verses such as John 3:16 on his eyeblack, especially when he played for the University of Florida Gators before going pro."

Now, I would give more credence to their complaints if this hadn't happened a few months ago:

So why weren't these same groups offended by this image? The commodification of a faith act through advertising? Isn't Beyonce's hotness somehow a mockery of Tebow's manliness? No, because that would be ridiculous. This particular complaint against Harris (who PS is married with children. I am trying to think of a less threatening gay icon. Ellen? That one teletubbie? But I think that his likability/ popularity is what is most upsetting to them) is outspoken, unabashed HOMOPHOBIA and it is NOT CHRISTIAN. It's hate, and I am pretty sure John 3:16 says nothing about only the people that believe in him and are do everything the way Tea Partiers think they should. This is not to say I don't think you can be a Christian and have opinions on gay marriage, etc, but I think there is a serious lack of perspective if this is a battle you think is worth the choosing.

 I hate that the headlines boil down to Christians vs. Gays. I am a Christian, and I really like pretty much all of the gay/lesbian/trans/queer people I know. I love a lot of them. The priest of our church and who did our pre-marital counseling was a lesbian. The leader of our homegroup was gay. I have never understood why this kind of antagonism is created, because I have never known it to be true in my life or in my church. I know people who have conflicted feelings about gay marriage based on their reading of the Bible, and though I disagree with them, this is not the same thing as these people who protest that non-heteronormative people dare to exist or be anywhere near the public sphere. Whoever these people are have nothing to do with Christianity as I know it.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Social Conservatism and Christianity are not the same thing. That is not to say you are not a Christian if you have conservative politics, but that the conflation of the two in the public sphere is detrimental to the Church as a whole. I believe this with my whole heart, so as angry as this photograph makes me as a supporter of Gay Rights, it makes me even angrier as a Christian, because it grossly misrepresents my faith. 

Matthew 22:37-40 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

I felt this same frustration lately when my Uncle posted about Hobby Lobby, which is being lauded in some circles for refusing Obamacare because they would have to pay for their employees birth control (I think specifically the morning after pill), and that would go against their belief that life begins at conception. 
This of course is a highly politicized issue, and it is this kind of social conservatism that has fueled the Tea Party into the thing it is. It is not good for the church to be so invested in a political party. Even Billy Graham said  "I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it." I feel strongly that conservative Christians are being manipulated by the political right, and that it is this union that is so toxic to Christianity, especially fundamentalism (I am not a fundamentalist btw), just like Graham predicted.
I find this kind of public discourse INCREDIBLY frustrating. What does this constant barrage of whining that we have to be nice to the sluts or gays or whatever tell people about us? It genuinely makes me sad, because it feels like we have lost the plot. There is nothing wrong with these people. They are all good. We are the toxicity in the church, because we send the message that  you are not invited if you aren't like us (which is dangerously close to the rhetoric of the Republican party). I am 100% sure that is not Jesus's deal. He had meals with the people society found least acceptable. He loved them. He said the greatest of the commandments were to love God and to love each other. Speaking out against a Super Bowl ad seems like a silly and hateful way to use our voice. 
I think as a church we should be ashamed of this kind of pointless ugliness and homophobia. We are misusing and wasting our voice as Christians on Chick-fil-a and super bowl ads. Talk about pandering to the things of the world. I want people to know that this is not what Christianity is. 

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I put this particular parable up, because to me, the lesson is that you can do everything right on paper, play your role perfectly, but if the time comes and you don't give a person love and mercy, even a person you are "supposed" to not like, you are not following his lessons or representing Christianity well. You can't say "Oh I love you, but I hate everything you are, and I am going to use my energy to shame you." That's not love. This parable is at the heart of my value system, and nothing makes me angrier than a person (especially a Christian) who doesn't show kindness and mercy. I know this is a tirade, but it has been brewing in my mind for a while. I think my point is, everybody stop being assholes, or at least pick better fights than a Super Bowl ad.

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