Thoughts by Richard Bleil
No, this is not an indictment of Christians. If anything, I believe this will be a celebration of some Christians, and possibly most. I, myself, do not call myself Christian, although I was raised as a Methodist. The problem is that I’ve heard the voices of too many people who use the title Christian and the Bible as a license to judge others.
For example, a well-known self-proclaimed Christian politician recently said that had Jesus owned an AR-15, he never would have been crucified. There are so many problems with this statement that I can’t even begin to break it all down, but in the end, she was claiming that the Bible was pro-gun rights. I’ve read enough of the Bible to know that Jesus never advocated violence or fighting back with it. In fact, if we define “Christianity” as emulating the behavior of Christ himself, then I would imagine guns would be rare indeed.
Some years ago a Christian more or less picked an argument with me, insisting that I must be a Christian, because I have high morals (in his view). His claim was the morals come from Christ, and therefore only Christians can be moral. What an extreme stance. No, you don’t have to be Christian to be moral, and many of the least moral people I know call themselves Christians.
My favorite kinds of Christians are those that never claim to be as such. Some years ago, a student had issues with his car. It was cold, and raining, and he had left his lights on. I was planning on having dinner with two of my colleagues, and both he and I were working late when this young man came into my office frantic because he was late in picking up his wife who was waiting in the rain and his truck wouldn’t start. This was prior to cell phones, so he couldn’t call. I went to my friend to ask him to pass my apologies on the the third that I wouldn’t be able to make dinner, but when he heard what this young man’s problem was, he simply took over. He exposed himself to rain and cold and grease to pull the battery, and take it to get it exchanged. We were both late to that dinner, but with his help, we made it.
This is the kind of Christian that I truly love. I’ve never seen him try to push his beliefs on anybody, he never judged claiming the Bible, but he just emulated the kind of gentle help that Christ would have shown (and, as a carpenter, yes, I suspect Christ would have been a good mechanic as well).
In my opinion, these kinds of Christians should be quite upset by people who keep pointing to the Bible to justify their own sense of morality. Never in the Bible did I read where Christ denegrated people for their religious conviction. I remember him saying to “Love they neighbor”, but I don’t remember it saying something of the like “unless he’s black.” I remember the statement that judgment is for the Lord alone, but I don’t remember the passage about persecuting homosexuals. I remember the Bible passage proclaiming that life begins when the Lord first breathes air into the infants lungs, but I don’t remember anything about the moment of conception.
It’s okay to be morally opposed to some issues, but it I’m morally opposed to claiming that everything is in the Bible if it is against personal morals.
Personally, I think it’s time for Christians to become more active in protecting the name and reputation of Christ. It’s not news that some Evangelical “ministers” use their position for personal gain, wealth, and as bully pulpits. I’ve not heard much from them recently, but one of these ministers has rallied his followers to show up to protest the funerals of those who fell serving our country in Iraq. Is this the Christian way? Another used his position to raise enough money for mansions, private planes and vehicles that cost more than most of his followers earn in a year. Is this emulating Christ?
Our nation is not a theocracy. It was never founded by or for Christians. Yes, people can get a moral compass from Christ and the Bible but beware of those who would take advantage of Christianity to steer their followers to their own will. It’s very disturbing to me that the Supreme Court has recently pushed us closer to a theocracy while there are so many examples of theocratic disasters around the world. I believe that true Christians should be opposed to the idea of Bible-driven government as well. After all, Christ never joined the government. Instead, he became an external voice of reason to keep the government in check. In a theocracy, who will be the outside voice of reason?