|Finding Authentic Christianity against hate|
(1 Th 2:14-16 NKJV) For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
08 Oct 2009 - The American House of Representative approved largely on partisan lines, 281 to 146 expanding the existing hate crimes provision to specifically cover Gay people in the Defense Authorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 2467).The current law covers only violent crimes perpetrated because of the victim's race, color, religion or national origin. An easy path through congress is expected, no longer faced with a veto vote from former President Bush. The Christian Post claims it was “sneaked past” using the Defense bill, but it was only following the conservative’s approach. It is a rebuke when Christians have to be warned to refrain from causing further harm through our prejudice fueled by religious self righteousness.
The greatest opposition against the Hate Crimes Bill getting approved has been Fundamentalist Christian Leaders because Gays to them do not deserved the dignity and humanity to be protected, and they were the main culprits of perpetuating an environment of hate apparently sanctioned by their extremist version of Christianity. The Hate Crime Bill contains safeguards against persecution based on religious expression, so essentially the Religious Right can continue their rhetoric and misinformation. However, those who follow their advice and do violence may not be let off so easily.
The Bill was called the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act”. The bill was previously sponsored by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., in June 2007, but failed to get enough votes by a large margin. However, with the change of Government, and the need by the Obama Government to start keeping some of his long overdue promises to the gay community, the bill went through.
A few days from now, on 12 Oct 2009 is the 11th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a tragic tale of hate crime against gays 11 years ago. His mum Judy Shepard has spend the last 11 years, a strong advocate for laws against such hate crimes. "This is my survival; this is how I deal with losing Matt," she told students this week at South Lakes High School in Reston. The Washington Post repoted "But somewhere in the midst of 11 years of speeches, after all of the hugs she has gotten from other parents and gay kids struggling with their identity, she realized that what she is doing "is not about Matt anymore; we can't help Matt." The cause is larger, she said, and worth every second of discomfort. ".
It was no surprise that the bill was named after Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Both died very violent and cruel deaths because they were gays. It is their deaths, their blood that have been sowed to the ground, along with thousands of others whose blood cries out for justice and for righteousness to prevail. The Christian Right may be justified to fear this hate crime bill, for this may be a start for justice to prevail and they who have without restrained caused harm may be taken to tasks.
The church is at a cross road today, to repent for the sake of the Gospel message of Christ love, death, and resurrection, before we be persecuted for the harm we have caused for the last 1000 years. The period of grace is almost over, and we will “fill up the measure of [our] sins” before wrath comes to us. We are supposed to be persecuted for following Jesus and proclaiming the Gospel, but we end up persecuting Christ all over again just like the religious and conservative Judeans who killed the Lord Jesus Christ. When we caused harm against the gay community by killing them, putting them in prison and limiting their basic rights, we are persecuting Christ who had aligned Himself with the outcasts of society.
The fact that it is the Christian Church who has caused harm in the name of Christ, is damaging to God’s name, reputation and the credibility of the bible and the Gospel message. We thought we spoke for Christ in the large banners against Gays once displayed outside the Church of Our Savior, or In the official positions on homosexuality in the web sites of our Methodist churches, or the support of our NMP in Parliament to put gays in prisons. Know we not that every day this transgression will be counted against us. Every article and half truths by Exodus, Focus on the Family, and Choices, against gays simply fill up the measure of our sins. Our message becomes a message of hate replacing the message of God’s love, hope and Salvation in Christ Jesus. Our hypocrisy is like a leaven, or yeast in bread effectively dominating the churches message spiritually and morally even though homosexuality is not frequently spoken at the pulpit. It may leave a church without moral and spiritual credibility and opened to challenge on our faith and authenticity.
The opposition by Christian Churches against laws to protect gays against hate crimes, would deny them of moral and spiritual legitimacy to call for protection against Christians from being persecuted in third world countries. Our crusade against gays has the capacity to drown out the voices of the suffering and persecuted church. The Pakistani Christians for example greeted U.S. Aid workers on 05 Oct 2009 at St. Albert Church in Gorja, Pakistan, saying “We do not need aid, but we need justice, protection, and equal rights”. How familiar are those similar words and sentiments cried out by Gays against the church for a thousand years. If there were no rights for Gays, why should there be special rights for Christians! Our religious rights are intertwined with basic human rights. When the Christian voice against gays to put down their rights, we are essentially undermining the position of the persecuted church drowning out their cries.
Does our freedom of faith allow us the freedom to hate, and cause harm? Christians often proclaim that it is a God given right due to their faith. This is opposite to the true meaning of biblical Christian Faith which is a call to denial, to denial of our rights, to giving up of ourselves that the Gospel of Christ love may be extended to the ends of the World. Where has our Christian faith gone wrong where we have championed instead to take rights from people and especially the minorities who can’t fight back, and then to demand our right to hate and cause harm because we are the majority. We are supposed to be hated because we identify ourselves with Jesus, His Love, compassion, death and resurrection.
Judy Shepard has spent 11 years fighting against hate crimes, fighting against those who have used their religious beliefs as justification for bearing hate instead of being channels of God's love and grace. How many more Matthew Shepard's must die before the Christians repent? It extends not only to hate crimes, but to the ban against gay marriages, and crimnalization of homosexuality in many countries that have caused gays to hide in closets and given little dignity and worth fueling the AIDS epidemic where 300,000 gays died in America only recently.
At the end, this is not about gays anymore, but a Faith walk of authentic Christianity against those who pervert it in the name of Fundamentalism, and religious hypocrisy so contrary to the Messiah revealed in the bible. There is a calling today to be the next Judy Shepard, who refused to give up, and we too should stand firm and resolute and not give up Hope for a better future for the cause is much larger, much more righteous, and a decision for God. Following Jesus is not being part of the conservative majority throwing rocks at the outcasts, but being with the despised and the rejected and letting the rocks hit our backs instead of these precious little children. This is the path of following Jesus to the Cross for where there wll be no regrets nor turning back. For by His strips we are healed and delivered, and as we are likewise bruised defending the outcasts, we shall find our authentic faith in Christ.