You might say you’re a Christian. You might even believe yourself that you’re a Christian. But you can’t really be a Christian. Not and hold the beliefs that you do.
How can someone believe gay people should be allowed to marry, and still be a Christian? How can someone be politically pro-choice and still be a Christian? How can someone feel sex outside marriage is not always sinful, and still be a Christian?
Many believe that liberal Christians can’t, aren’t really, falsely believe themselves to be Christian.
Some Christians even call us names. A Christian acquaintance was recently called, “Satan’s whore,” a “divorced dyke,” “single baby mama for a reason,” and “heretical feminist Jezebel” by other Christians, because she agreed with President Obama’s views on gay marriage.
We liberal Christians have frequently dealt with these attitudes. They no longer surprise us. We can state our views clearly and back them up with scripture, in context, when we feel it’s necessary. But, more often than not, we can walk away and choose not to debate, not really caring whether these strangers really believe we’re Christians. Why should we have to defend ourselves?
Unfortunately, there is something more insidious, more surprising, more hurtful than these strangers who claim we’re not Christian. It’s friends, people we’re close to, people we love, who know we’re Christians, but believe we are choosing not to walk with Christ. They believe we don’t pray, or don’t pray correctly, or don’t listen for the answers. They believe Father doesn’t talk with us as intimately or as often as he does with “real” followers of Christ. How could he be talking to us, if we don’t believe the “right” thing about homosexuality, or abortion, or premarital sex, or any number of issues? There is no way we could be walking closely with Father, the way Christians are “supposed” to do, and still have these “wrong” ideas.
In the face of this, we feel defensive. We feel hurt. And confused. Because this is a friend, not a stranger. Walking away, like we do with the stranger, doesn’t work in this case, as this is someone we care about, and want to continue spending time with. And yet, this friend cannot fathom a person with a divergent viewpoint being right with Father. We come to discover that when it comes to Biblical gray areas, friends are walking around believing that if we would just pray more or have a better relationship with Father, we’d see the light.
Being a liberal Christian is a lonely place to be. The liberals don’t want anything to do with Christians. The Christians don’t want anything to do with liberals. Being both at once makes us personae non gratae to almost everyone. It’s OK when we stay superficial. Don’t talk politics at parties or church meetings. Stay away from hot topics. Everything is fine. But when we want to get deep with someone on a relational level, when we begin to care about someone enough to want to share more than superficial talk, this issue can get in the way of emotional intimacy.
This blog entry was born after, last night while talking to a friend, I became overly defensive in response to a couple completely innocent comments he made regarding one of these “hot topic” issues. As I began to ponder why I reacted so defensively, I realized for the first time just how much emotional baggage I am carrying around surrounding this issue. I’d love to read comments from liberals, conservatives, Christians, non-Christians, anyone at all who has experience or insight to share on this topic, or who is likewise carrying around some old baggage.