Traditionally, the Christmas season brings out the best in people… or it’s supposed to at least. This is the one time of year that differences should be put aside, between individuals and within families, between and within communities… regardless of religious and political beliefs, despite one’s social standing. Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you have any religious beliefs or not, the hope of “peace on earth and good will towards all men, women and children”, if not something you care about during the year, it should at least be at the forefront of our minds (if not hearts) this time of year.
However, today we live in a society where being callous, cold-hearted, judgemental, mean-spirited and self-righteous is celebrated and revered… AND nowhere are these attitudes celebrated and revered more than among those who claim to be politically “conservative” and profess themselves to be “christian”.
The comments of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson in the January GQ magazine about homosexuals (here) is one case in point. He and his supporters claim that his comments are based on biblical principles. I’m a Christian, but Robertson’s Christianity isn’t my Christianity. The Jesus I worship and who is the example of how I should treat others is shown in the biblical story of the woman accused of adultery and brought before Jesus by the religious leaders of his day. By the law of Moses, which was the religious law of the day, her punishment was to be stoned to death. Jesus who knew the law, didn’t dispute what her punishment should be. He simply told the religious leaders that whichever of them where “without sin among you”, they should cast the first stone. After they had departed and He was left alone with the woman, Jesus… who was without sin… stated to her: “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”. (here)
Phil Robertson and those professed christians who think like him, are much like those religious leaders in that story. What they have failed to comprehend, due to their self-righteous arrogance, is that the Law or Word of God is not to be used to condemn or judge others, but to be used as a blueprint for our lives to be a testimony of the compassion and love of God.
Canada isn’t immune to these callous, mean-spirited “conservative christian” types either. Recently federal Conservative minister James Moore was asked what the government planned to do about the high rate of child poverty in his home province of British Columbia. He answered: “Well, obviously nobody wants kids to go to school hungry. Certainly we want to make sure that kids go to school full bellied, but is that always the government’s job to be there to serve people their breakfast? Empowering families with more power and resources so that they can feed their own children is, I think, a good thing. Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.” (emphasis mine)
Canadian conservatives are proud to profess their unapologetic and unashamed Christian beliefs. Moore obviously missed this message of Jesus when He was asked by the religious leaders what was the most important commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (here) Would Moore allow his own child to go hungry? I would say, “not!” Then why does he feel no obligation, as a government leader, or as a Christian, or even just as a human being, to ensure that his neighbor’s child doesn’t go hungry!?
I believe if Jesus was around today, he would be demonized and accused by so-called “conservatives” of being a liberal, progressive, socialist radical. If todays so-called “christians” like Robertson and Moore were around in Jesus’ day, they would be among the religious leaders leading the people in their chants for Pontius Pilate to “Crucify Him!” Jesus constantly referred to the religious leaders, not the sinners, as hypocrites, vipers and the children of the Satan. This was due to their callousness, mean-spiritedness and judgemental attitudes towards those they considered “sinners”, which included the poor and the sick. Jesus stated clearly that His ministry was not for those who considered themselves religious, nor was it to judge or condemn sinners: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (here).
In the GQ article Robertson paraphrases 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, in which he lists those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven: “the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers…” More importantly, both Robertson and Moore… and other professed christians of their ilk… should study in their Bible Matthew 25:31-46, where Jesus himself identified those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven… the compassionate: those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give shelter to the stranger, cloth the naked, care for the sick and visit those in prison. Hopefully during their bible study, they will also be enlightened that Jesus doesn’t mention any rewards for those who condemn homosexuals or are so callous that they feel no responsibility to feed a hungry child.
During this season, we hear those who profess to be Christians say this phrase: “Remember the reason for the season”. I always wonder what this truly means to them. Speaking for myself, the purpose of the birth of Jesus was to bring all people into a relationship with a compassionate, loving and merciful God. We Christians are suppose to be an example, a “light to the world”, of this compassion, love and mercy. Robertson would be more an example of this light, if his biblical beliefs led him to spend his time and money supporting a hospice for people suffering from AIDS, instead of making disgusting comments condemning homosexuals.
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Ghandi.