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Friday, February 28, 2014

Powers And Merritt Got It Right But Could Have Said More

In an article (click here) that put the panties of many of us Conservative Christians in a bunch, Kirsten Powers and Jonathan Merritt got it right regarding Christian businesspeople who refuse to provide public services for same-sex weddings. How did they get it right? They got it right by pointing out that businesses that provide services for same-sex weddings are not necessarily "affirming" those weddings and they got it right when they showed the hypocrisy of Christian businesspeople who refuse to provide public services for same-sex weddings but provide the same services for other unbiblical weddings. 

But why did they have to address this subject in the first place? This blog has pointed out that Christians have been waging war against gays (click here). In addition, Christians, in trying to point out the seriousness of the sin of homosexuality, have exaggerated the differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals (click here) and this fuels Christian animosity toward gays. At the same time, Christians are rather silent about larger sins such as our nation's wars and interventions, the wealth disparity and exploitation that comes from our economic system and classism, and America's part in destroying the environment and condemning  future generations to much suffering. 

So, why are the Christians who so vociferously oppose homosexuality and same-sex marriages so silent about past and present actions that either take, threaten, or harm millions of lives in this country and around the world? There are multiple answers, some of which are complex, and one of which says it is because they benefit from that which they should protest.

There is another point to be made here about the Conservative Christian reaction to the article written by Powers and Merritt. The way these Conservative Christians are approaching this issue shows that they are suffering from a Mr. Magoo degree of myopia (click here). They can only see themselves; they cannot see the effects of their decisions on others. They are blind to the ramifications of denying public services to a specified group. These consequences, when applied outside of weddings as consistency would demand and which are pointed out by Powers and Merritt, would lead to another Jim Crow and we have enough of them already (click here).

The cause for this spiritual myopia so often found in Conservative Christians is the emphasis they put on their own personal holiness. What follows this attention is a hyper-vigilance on one's own spiritual state. At the same time how one's actions affects others is hardly noticed. In addition, social sins, which are sins committed by groups, barely receive any attention. We could liken all of the self-focus on one's own personal holiness to a mirror at which one constantly stares to check for flaws. The more one focuses on one's own holiness and purity or zeros in on one's own spiritual flaws, the bigger the mirror becomes. But as the mirror grows, the more it obstructs one's view of the world around them. Thus, eventually, one cannot even see one's neighbor let alone love them. This is why Christians misinterpret the expected push back from gays as either persecution or attempts at control. This is also partially why Christians can have such strong reactions to the sexual sins of their neighbors while maintaining a laissez-faire attitude to the sins of one's own nation, political party, economic class, race, or even religion. For the Conservative Christian, it is all about one's own spiritual state. 

Some of the reactions of Conservative Christians to homosexuals and same-sex marriages serve as further confirmation to the suspicion of some that Conservative Christians are backwards thinking people. Those, who harbor this suspicion, add that part of the puzzle to how some of us insist that the world is merely a few thousand years old to our belief that our consumerism and lifestyle could never possibly harm the environment in order to take a snapshot of us. And that picture is not only repulsive, it shows that we have the potential of posing a threat to others. 

It is time for us to realize that many of the criticisms we receive are not instances of persecution or rejection of the Gospel. Rather, they are the world's way of trying to hold a non-magical mirror in front of us so we can see what we really look like. Powers and Merritt are doing just that by taking on the refusal of Christian businesspeople to provide services for same-sex weddings while demonstrating no qualms over providing the same services for other unbiblical weddings. 

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