In light of Wednesday’s supreme court decisions, and in light of what has come to be the inevitable outrage expressed by ‘Christians,’ I feel something of an obligation to contribute to the conversation.
I am a Christian – a minister, no less. I’m even technically categorized as an evangelist.
Even still, I find myself more and more a bit hesitant in claiming the word ‘Christian’ – a term that seems too often hijacked from its original meaning (Christ follower) to become something synonymous to hatred, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, fear, and exclusion. One only has only to google “Why are Christians so…” to see that the most often used completions for that phrase are ‘mean, annoying, weird…’ As someone who has been ordained not just as a ‘minister’ within the Presbyterian church, but as an ‘evangelist’ I’m no stranger to trying to take words back from those who have sought to tarnish them with such ugliness. At its heart the word evangelist means someone who shares ‘good news’ – but you’d hardly know that based on the placard waving ‘Christian evangelists’ whose news is often only ‘good’ for them.
I am a Christian. I am a minister. And the night of the Supreme Court’s overturning DOMA I attended a ‘Big Gay Shrimp Boil’ to celebrate the SCOTUS rulings – not in spite of the fact that I am a Christian and a minister, but precisely because of the fact.
This, as I understand it, is what it means to follow Jesus – the same Jesus who was accused, in his day, of being a ‘drunkard and a glutton’ and of hanging around the ‘wrong kind of people’ while the ‘right kind of people’ hurled insults.
Christian brothers and sisters, how can we be so blind?
How can we not see that, were Jesus to walk this earth today, odds are he would be at the Big Gay Shrimp Boil enjoying his apple martini along with the rest of the guests? That this is precisely where he would be – amongst those who have been told that they are ‘other’ that they are somehow ‘unclean’ or that they are not worthy enough of God’s love…
The Jesus that I follow came to bring good news – for all people – that life, abundant life, real life full of goodness and love and compassion and justice – that this life is available, here and now, and that this God-infused life is already at hand, already here, already now. It is not some fire insurance to keep you out of the fire pits of hell when you die. Jesus offered healing to those who approached him. He touched lepers who no one else would go near. He gave women dignity in a society that did not value them. He excluded no one, regardless of their ‘sin’ – and had his harshest critique for the self-righteous religious who thought they had it all together.
I am so thankful for my upbringing in an evangelical Christian church that taught me to take the Bible seriously, to take Jesus seriously, to take my faith seriously and to seek God. My faith has shaped me. It has made me who I am today.
For it is precisely that foundation that led me to this place.
It is because I follow Jesus that I found myself, that night, cheering in celebration as we toasted to love, commitment, and justice – to rainbows, not to hate.
What was a Christian minister doing at a Big Gay Shrimp boil? Ask Jesus – I followed him there.