I stumbled across David Schell’s excellent article, “Unacceptable: What it’s like to be a liberal Christian in a sea of conservatism” and I experienced a feeling very similar to when I first read Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist: a feeling of coming home.
It’s been a tough time getting here. For years, I have felt left out, hiding in the shadows with my feelings of never quite fitting in with any church I joined, and never quite being able to pinpoint why.
This last year has been one of self-exploration. I’ve read more books on theology in the past year than I have in my whole life. Far from thinking I’m alone, I continue to find companionship and acceptance from others.
David Schell’s article tackles many of the problem areas I’ve discovered in my years “the gray.”
1. First of all, that it’s a possibility to be both Liberal and Christian. For years I was told that a liberals were nothing less than mini-antiChrists; that there was a good political party and an evil one. We are taught that to be Christian automatically leads to being Conservative.
I believe that true Christianity puts Jesus first, and doesn’t associate Him with any man-made political party.
I consider Jesus’s words above a political party’s rhetoric. The two are not 100% aligned, and I believe that we can’t, in good conscience, check off every box on either side of the spectrum as a Christian. I agree with some of both, and I don’t think that makes me any less of a Jesus lover.
I was taught as a Christian that straight-party voting was the key to getting America “back on track” and that the only issue that mattered is abortion.
We should reconsider what it means to be pro-life.
Instead, those same leaders killed thousands of Americans and people overseas in senseless wars that were somehow sold to the American public as good and just. These people, our soldiers, sailors and airmen’s lives are every bit as precious to the ones they loved and loved them. How does advocating the loss of lives in war somehow be synonymous with being American? Can’t I be against war, love Jesus, but still love being American and respect our servicemen and women? Yes, I can. It is possible.
This year, we’ve seen the same leaders dismissing the hundreds of thousands of Americans (at the time of this writing, over 330,000) dying of Covid-19, and refusing to make the connection of wearing masks or social distancing, believing their rights are in jeopardy. The same folks who champion the rights of the unborn seem to forget that babies grow up, and adults and children are still important.
2. We can be liberal and still be against abortion. For some reason, this is the very first thing that arises when I talk to my Conservative friends. That somehow, liberal=deception which=the killing of babies. While I personally believe that abortion is wrong, many women will still seek them and I don’t want to see us back in the days of illegal back-alley operations.
It’s never my job to judge anyone.
In addition, many medical procedures are technically abortions, and if we start regulating these, insisting terminations are never warranted, we will find ourselves on a slippery slope of extremism that will punish women even further. Women don’t use these as birth control; it’s too traumatic. If a woman finds herself in the position of considering one, you can bet there’s a story there, and it’s not up to you or me to decide for her.
Instead, why don’t we advocate for free, easy to access birth control? If everyone had equal access to birth control, there would be fewer abortions. Most of the time, the reluctance to provide this is tied up in outdated notions of forced morality that are impossible to enforce. All that happens is the poor suffer and the wealthy are taken care of.
3. We believe that children’s rights should not stop once they are out of the womb. This includes children who are not American, who don’t speak English, and who don’t have money to pay. Jesus was also brought to another country by his parents, making him at one point the child of an illegal alien.
4. We love people regardless of what gender they identify with or whom they choose to love. I don’t think they should be prosecuted for loving someone of the same gender. I believe that a person can be gay or lesbian and still be Christian. I think it’s ridiculous when people believe gay people are more likely to be child molesters. I was molested three times as a kid and it was always a man. That’s my experience.
5. We believe it’s not ok to pick and choose which parts of the Bible we rage against. The same people who hate homosexuality and quote the verses they believe backs it up so easily rationalize the verses that are against divorce and remarriage which may be their own issues. Everyone has some trait, some struggle, some addiction, some excess or gluttony, something the Bible won’t condone.Why can’t we all just accept that we all need grace every single day of our lives just to take a breath? I think we need to pay very close attention to the issues that Jesus chose to address and the people Jesus spent time with and loved: the imperfect creations, the doubters, the question-askers.That’s who I am, and who you are.