Here are three failures we can begin highlighting:
1. The near equal failure of Evangelical and Fundamentalist marriages as non-Christain marriages.
2. The tragic failures taking place in the ex-gay movement, a prime recent example is Michael Johnston.
3. The retrenchment in the status of women within many conservative denominations, the Southern Baptists and The Christian and Missionary Alliance, for example.
Walter Bauman, a systematic theologian and retired professor of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, taught a Systematic Theology course I took a few years ago, commented on the role the East German Lutheran Church during the Communist period. He said that the East German Lutherans did not campaign against the godless communists in power, but decided that they would hold their communist leaders’ feet to the fire and demand they actually do what their propaganda promised. The Lutherans held their public leaders accountable to the egalitarian and socialist ideals they said they believed in, they fought against public graft, corruption, and enrichment of leaders at the expense of the people, and they demanded that their leaders actually abide by the grand claims of the socialist and communist system.
If that is what the majority of people who voted for “moral values” want, then that is what we should hold them accountable for. If that is the language and schema they want to use, then so be it.
We should demand that they explain that they mean by “moral values,” then demand that they prove their assertions using good exegetical and hermeneutical methods of Biblical interpretation, historical and cultural understandings that apply to those Scriptures, and not let them get away with the misuse and misinterpretation of Scripture. We should also be vigilant in demanding that they live up to their own rhetoric, and sadly make sure their failures are widely known. Of course, because we strongly believe in the merciful grace of God, which they claim also, by pointing out their failures we are fighting the sin of hypocrisy and we are actually helping them be free from that which enslaves them and helping them come to the freeing realization of God’s grace, mercy, justice, and peace.
Honestly, what are we looking for as Americans? Honestly, what are Evangelical Christians looking for? Honestly, what are liberal Christians looking for? What do we all want?
“Many of us who call ourselves Christian long to be what we call ourselves, but we cannot see how to do it, granted our culture’s basic assumptions about what it means to be a human being. If we assume with our culture that the goal of human life is individual self-development, how does this goal leave space for love that might thwart that development? How does the need for assertiveness in a world that despises the weak fit with the Christ who ‘did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:6-7)? How does an ethos of productivity fit with the image of the cross? We suspect that our culture’s assumptions about human life may be wrong but it is hard to see what alternatives we have.”
Roberta Bondi, To Love as God Loves
The fight for traditional-marriage is a front. Why, because heterosexuals are the ones who have brought traditional-marriage to its knees. Those who are conducting this campaign are not fighting for traditional, heterosexual marriage. If they were then they would be campaigning as strongly against divorce, adultery, and against whatever attitude has infected even Fundamentalist and Evangelical marriages, since they fail on par with non-Christian marriages. They are not putting the time and money into such campaigns – only against gay-marriage. No, what all this is about is simply hatred towards homosexuals. They won’t admit that, and legitimately not all harbor hatred in their hearts, but way too many do. The fight is to deprive homosexuals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, of equal consideration and protection under the law. Couching their anti-homosexual attitudes and feelings in positive “save-marriage” language only gives them a feel-good justification for hatred and self-righteous indignation.
This is not humility and is not the love of God, or for neighbor and self. It is motivated by anger, fear, ignorance, and their impurity, haughtiness, pride, and for some vainglory. The desert fathers and mothers would not be proud, and would not recognize the Religious Right’s attempts to be Christian.
Now that their zeal and numbers have won the election and constitutional amendments, their continuing crusade to define Christianity after themselves will go forward. They will attempt to deny the moniker “Christian” to those who disagree with their own particular and narrow view of doctrine and Scriptural interpretation. They will now, feeling even more embolden and justified, push forward in demanding that society capitulate to their concept of living as an American.
Nationalism is an idol. Patriotism is an idol. If we give ourselves over to this idea of “America,” we are abandoning completely the “other” that Christ calls us to. The idols of nationalism and patriotism have caused many within the Church to redefine what “Christian” really is. They are giving themselves over the spirit of this age, to the world. Unquestioning belief is a liability to discerning the will of God. Gathering around oneself those who scratch one’s itching ear is spiritual death. Far too many Christians are only willing to have their ears scratched, rather than have their minds and consciences pricked, challenged, and changed by the enduring Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here is more viewpoints from blogger Adam Yoshida:
But, whatever, we won: to hell with the rest of them. Those who didnç¨š support Bush can go and perform a certain anatomically impossible act. They lost, now they can sit in the back of the bus.
Thank God Almighty.
The election is over. The speeches have been made. Anyone can tell you that I do not lean very far to the left or right, but I am truly sad. You know, it isn’t so much the man – Bush is just a man – but it is what so many Americans attribute to and give the man that is scary.
“He is God’s man; he does God’s will; he speaks with/for God, and whatever he does is God’s will” – this is what so many are giving to this man.
I read stories yesterday from gay people across the country. I have no problem with people advocating their positions against gay-marriage and the like. It is their right in this country to express their opinions and desires. However, all the acrimony generated by the Religious Right against gay people (not just against gay-marriage or civil-unions, but against the people themselves) is giving so many the justifications to be bold and forthright about their hatred for gay people. It will be a long, dark night for the average gay person in the red-states, and even in some blue-states.
We will look back on this time and shake our heads. It was the “moral issues” that won this election. The primary moral issues are gay-marriage and homosexuality-in-general. It may have been couched in “family values” language, but it was anti-homosexual sentiment that got out the vote in many places. In the same way a majority of Americans look back on the 60’s and shake their heads at want went on in the South, so will we look back and shake our heads at what went on in the red-states. Look for much more violence and discrimination against gay people. It is inevitable.
Here is an example from an e-mail to Andrew SullivanÂ’s webblog:
“I wonder if you noticed that yesterday all eleven states that considered the question of gay marriage voted to ban it. ALL ELEVEN. I think this sends a very clear message — true Americans do not like your kind of homosexual deviants in our country, and we will not tolerate your radical pro-gay agenda trying to force our children to adopt your homosexual lifestyle. You should be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that we even let you write a very public and influential blog, instead of suppressing your treasonous views (as I would prefer). But I’m sure someone like yourself would consider me just an “extremist” that you don’t need to worry about. Well you are wrong — I’m not just an extremist, I am a real American, and you should be worried because eleven states yesterday proved that there are millions more just like me who will not let you impose your radical agenda on our country.”
And then, another e-mail:
“I’ll tell you, being a 16 year-old gay kid in Michigan just got a hell of a lot worse. When I woke up this morning and saw the anti gay marriage proposal had passed, I was shocked. I realized the situation I’m faced with everyday in school – the American people have just shown my classmates that it’s perfectly fine to discriminate. A direct quote from a ‘friend’ at school today: ‘It’s so cool that all these states just told all the faggots to eat shit and get the hell out…’ Because of the above events, I am at a crossroads … I’m the youngest card-carrying Republican in the county, and am constantly asked to get others involved for Bush/Cheney. Herein lies a problem, I can’t bring myself to do that. Bush totally lost all my support (I know I can’t vote – but I make a hell of a campaigner) when he supported the amendment to ban gay marriages, and I felt bad that in straying from Bush, I was abandoning Cheney, who I have an amazing amount of respect for. Many would say go Democrat… but I can’t do that (that signals the absence of a spine up here), and in the next year, I’m considering dropping my membership to the party. Especially this year, despite how undercut and violated I feel as a gay person, I couldn’t be happier that I am. I’ve got a stronger will because of it, and will lead my life just as strongly.
What more can be said.
Yes, we are at war and we truly need to be gravely concerned with the intent and actions of the Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists. Yes, we do need to be strong and forthright in protecting ourselves. But the answer is not Â“find Â‘em and kill Â‘em.Â” This attitude, expressed by both candidates, may be very American and may make us feel a little better, or stronger, but it is not the way of a Christian. Bring them to justice, bring them to trial, put them away for life, but to simply say we are going to hunt them down and kill them no matter what is against the call of Jesus Christ. It just is. Scripture and reason cannot, CANNOT, justify this kind of attitude, although perhaps it can be justified through tradition. Bush may steadfastly stay on his course and think that it shows resolve and strength, but if that course causes more people to become terrorists, increases terrorist activities across the planet, and alienates our allies whom we desperately need, then all the show of strength and resolve will simply add to the problem.
If he cannot see how his actions are counterproductive to truly solving this world-wide crisis, then it is not God who is directing his thoughts and actions!