Without Condition

Some people believe that “liberal Christian” is an oxymoron.  If one is liberal, one cannot be a Christian.  

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.

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4 thoughts on “Without Condition

  1. Laurel says:

    Hey girl hey! If anyone feels you on this topic it is me! I spent a long time away from the church for this reason. When I came back, I came back with an eye out for people who wouldn’t like me, who would sit in judgement of me, who would reject me. And I found myself rejecting them first. I would mark them, you know? Like, this guy isn’t gonna get me, I am gonna keep it as surface as possible. And you know what? I suck at surface! I am just a open person. And I suck. suck. suck. at surface. So, back to the drawing board for me. I opened up to people I trusted. And here is the other thing, I tried to respect their opinions as much as I would want them to respect mine. Because in the end, MOST of us have the same intention, we want people to be closer to God. We just have different views on how that happens. And you know what? When I approached it like that, with a little extra emphasis on understanding their true intentions, and a simple explanation of mine, with out blame, without hostility, with out trying to WIN (because in the end, I am probably not going to change anyones mind, and I am pretty sure they won’t change mine…) I have been able to have the BEST conversations. I understand the other side of the isle better than ever. Some of my favorite people in the world have totally different perspectives on politics and what loving people looks like, and we are OK. We are just fine. Because we know that our collective hearts are good. Someone told me once that the biggest thing that pisses them off about “liberal christians” is that they are intolerant tolerants. They can show all this support and openness to people of all kinds of backgrounds, but not to people who don’t agree with them. Then they get pissed off when people aren’t tolerant of their beliefs. It’s a little hypocritical, huh?So, I am investing in, searching for, and mostly finding, tolerance. Or better yet, GRACE. I am finding Grace. For me, and for my less liberal christian friends.

    • LOL! I think I know exactly who used that term “intolerant tolerants” with you!

      I can relate with your instincts to reject people before they reject you. And with sucking at surface. I just lay it all out there, with no sense of keeping anything private.

      I really like what you said about all of us having the same goals. I enjoy the idea of all of us being on the same side, rather than facing off against each other.

      Thanks for your comments, Laurel!

  2. Annamarie says:

    I don’t label myself conservative OR liberal. I’m more libertarian. God gave us free will and humans invented government…and we invented this one on the basis that the govt can’t sponsor any certain religious outlook. With that in mind, I can’t be against gay marriage or any other person’s belief about sexuality. It just doesn’t jive with me. I have lived out the way I believed I should in that area and others have led different paths…its not might right to judge that they believe or live differently from me. On the other hand, I’m tired of sexual messages and themes thrown into music, tv and movies. When I saw Howard Stern was a judge on America’s Got Talent this season, I wanted to vomit but I guess thats my issue to work through. If people would keep that issue between consenting adults, I would be a much happier person. 🙂

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