Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How What Happened In Orlando Helps Me check My Privilege

Saturday night I watched a few movies, ate popcorn and stayed up late with my best friends. Sunday morning I slept in and was awakened by my wife with news about something that had happened in Orlando. My heart sank. I wept, I was angry and I felt helpless. And I know what I was feeling so tragically pails compared to what the homosexual community and the friends and families of the deceased are feeling.


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I've never been a victim of such viscous bigotry. I'm a apart of a tribe that is just now starting to get the sense that we might become the cultural minority. There is no mistaking that Christendom is on the fall, (Christendom, the official or unofficial partnership between the church and the governing powers and cultural power) and though this is good news for the church (the church has always thrived and looked most like Christ when is exists in the margins) many Christians have claimed that this means we are being persecuted. The truth is, this looks nothing like persecution, this looks like more people than not disagreeing with our beliefs, which is how we have treated the rest of the world for the last 200 years. And what happened in Orlando should serve as a sobering reminder of that.


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I grew up reading the bible, and being taught that in the Old Testament, Israel was a picture of the church. That Egypt, Babylon and Rome were the evils of the world that sought to "enslave me" with their sin in a spiritual sense, the way those countries did to Israel in a physical sense. Now, thanks to the teachings of Brian Zahnd, Greg Boyd and a few friends, I've learned how much of a privileged, and misguided, mindset this is.
 I am a white, Christian, male living in the US who has a full time job and was never denied work or education because of my skin color.

I've never been pulled over for something I didn't deserve; I've never been the subject of a random drug search and I've never been a part of a people group who has been consistently oppressed by systems.

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I am not Israel. I am Rome. I am Babylon. I am Egypt.

My ancestors didn't come here on slave ships, they came here driving slave ships. My ancestors weren't slaughtered and intentionally diseased in order to have our land taken from us; my ancestors were the ones firing the guns and handing out the blankets of death. I don't have a history of being enslaved, oppressed or marginalized.

So what can I do in my position? As a person of privilege, I can advocate for the people in the margins. I can take a stand when I see or hear something homophobic, xenophobic or racist. I can love people I don't agree with without telling them I don't agree with them.

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One thing I've seen a lot of on social medias from pastors, lay people and Christian celebrities is while sharing their sympathy for the 49 homosexuals slaughtered because of their life style, is "even if I don't agree with you, I'm sad for you." Almost as if that disclaimer needs to be said so we can maintain our tribes, so people don't forget that it's "us and them." Because God forbid we extend love to a homosexual and have a conservative friend think we affirm their choices.

Christ came and abolished tribalism, we are free to love without those disclaimers. We are free to advocate for the people in the margins.

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I want to end this blog with a challenge: Christ extended love without any disclaimers other than we are to extend the same love to others. No disclaimers. No fine print. Just the agape (unconditional) love of our Daddy God. Go and do the same.

8 comments:

  1. Apparently I'm not supposed to comment on this. I've tried 2 times and both just disappear when I try to publish it.
    I do want to ask you this one question. Who are you to add another voice telling Christians how they should think about a topic, react to events,what they should say or not say, if they are "really Christians"?
    I think the Christian community has plenty of critics already.

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    1. I'm afraid I don't understand your question and how it pertains to this blog.

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    2. Would you mind expanding on what you are saying

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  4. I'm sorry Tony. On my tired and frustrated state of mind my comment did come out disjointed and wayyyyyy harsher than my thoughts were.
    I agreed with much of what you said. But I feel that you are critical and judging Christians while at the same time calling them judgemental and critical. There is a scripture I think in 1 Corinthian "Who are you to judge another man's servant? The reason I point to that is I feel you are judging God's servants and find them lacking. I sense a condemnation of how some Christians have responded by adding the "I don't agree with your life style". That it is one more "A good or real Christian should/ shouldn't behave, respond or act this way" statement.
    I feel that the "world" is already harshly critical of us imperfect Christians.
    I hope that helps make more sense of where I'm coming from.

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  5. Deb, I understand that it seems awfully critical. But when you read the gospels, Jesus' love had no disclaimers. He was accepting made available to all. I know when some one comes a long a critical note about how Christians behave the tension that causes creates people saying "you're attacking and hurting the church." If we can't take a critical word, or if this were biblical times, a prophetic word, and weigh it out heavily, we cause way more damage to the church. All of Pauls epistles were a loving critique of the church, and we have to be open today scrutiny for a new reform and change of reputation that church so desperately needs in order to look like Christ will never happen.

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    1. I'm not so concerned about hurting the church as most people think of the church. I'm concerned that it divides Christians.
      I don't agree with making the disclaimers either, but for some of the "weaker" brothers and sisters in Christ, they need that for them to be comfortable extending that grace. Be gracious to those that haven't gotten to where you are.
      A disclaimer or distinction is being made when we talk about the "LGBT community" being affected. The entire community our Orlando was affected greatly. The law enforcement that responded, the medical community that cared for the wounded, the friends and neighbors that lost. You see it is common to add disclaimers.

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