“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost [first] commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law [Gen, Ex, Liv, Num, Deut] and the Prophets. [Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habukkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi] Matthew 22:36-40
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go [having gone] therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [all the days], even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
“Blessed [fortunate or prosperous] are the poor in spirit [those who are not spiritually arrogant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are the gentle [humble]… merciful…peacemakers …” Matthew 5:3-9
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before [libel to] the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing [empty head],’ shall be guilty before [libel to] the supreme court [the Sanhedrin]; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to [libel to] go into the fiery hell [Gahanna…the Hinnom Valley…a valley near Jerusalem where children were sacrificed for Moloch, an ancient Ammonite deity worshiped by the Canaanites, Phoenician and related cultures in North Africa and the Levant.] Matthew 5:22
“I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be [show yourselves to be] sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be [shall be] perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:44-48
“The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated [smitten] before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” Deuteronomy 28:7
The problem I face is something much harder than anything I’ve ever thought I would have to encounter. But by loving God, by loving others, by not being arrogant, by being humble, by being merciful, by being a peacemaker, by holding my anger and not stooping to name calling, and by praying for and loving those who would work against me, I shall persevere and am confident that I shall rise above, victorious. The burden laid upon my heart from the Lord is not a typical one. I admire and respect those who work tirelessly for the poor, the infirmed, the homeless, the imprisoned, the innocent, and the oppressed. I receive great joy and my heart is lifted in hope when I am presented an opportunity to be a part of such noble causes as the A21 Campaign, Hope House, Homeless Shelters, Food Kitchens, Clothes Closets, service crews, and various other charity organizations over the years. Yet this is not where my heart feels called. This is not where I feel led to serve. This is not where I receive the greatest satisfaction and joy, though it would be so undeniably easy to allow myself to commit to one and justify my life as well spent. Who could deny it? I could, for I know my mission. I feel my purpose, and it lay elsewhere.
The great commission is easy to fill when you are called to help those with a physical need. You feed the hungry, their physical desires are satisfied, and you have shown Christ to be a means to satisfaction. You clothe and shelter the poor, their physical discomforts are alleviated, and you have shown Christ to be a means of relief and safety. You bring medical aid to the sick, their physical ailments cured, and you show Christ to be a means of healing. But my heart lie with a different group entirely; a group with no physical wounds to heal with a bandage, no physical need to be fixed with a gift of food or shelter. My heart is for this group who on the surface appear to have rejected God, but only do so as a direct result for being first and foremost rejected by his followers. The group I am speaking of are the outcast, the atheist, and the LGBTQ communities.
I have yet to meet a militant Atheist who had not previously tried and ultimately failed to be a part of some religious organization or at one point had some spiritual affiliation. The greatest reason I have encountered that has caused members of this group to turn away from my faith in particular is hypocrisy within the walls of our churches and inside our Christian homes.
Our Words Matter:
When we speak of others in labels such as heathens, savages, faggots, niggers, lost, and sinners, instead of acknowledging that they are fellow human beings going through human struggles that we ourselves similarly go through, we muddy the message of love and display a message of anger, fear, and hatred that decent human beings find repulsive.
Our Actions Speak Volumes:
The greatest single cause of Atheism today is Christians who profess the Lord with their lips, turn from there and deny him with their actions. We preach a message of Love, a message of Hope, a message of Salvation. Yet visit any city, any street corner, and any college campus. For a proclaimed “nation under God” being run by “Godly Christian men” there is an incomprehensible amount of impoverished (45.3 million people), imprisoned (1 in every 100 adults, and over 100,000 youth), homeless (1.5 million children, 2.3 million adults) and orphaned children (399,546 children in foster care). It is hard to accept these claims of being “God’s great nation” in the face of these staggering numbers particularly when 83% of Americans identify as “Christian”. That is 262.3 million people charged with feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, taking care of the sick and imprisoned, and yet these problems still exist and on great scale.
It is obvious by these numbers alone that “Christianity” in the United States is more concerned with Talk and less concerned with Walk. If every Christian family adopted a foster child or took in a homeless person, we would have plenty of families to spare to focus on other areas of need. True, that not every Christian family has the means to do such. This is supposed to be the purpose of the church family. If every Church family put their efforts together, (Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 churches in the U.S) and say each congregation adopted a child or two or sponsored a homeless person or five these would be non-issues, especially considering that 100 of those churches are mega-churches with funds ranging in the hundreds of thousands each year.
Other people’s opinions of us matter:
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”― Mahatma Gandhi
In a 2012 study 440 non-Christians were asked what they thought of Christians based on their experiences and interactions with us, and the results were staggering:
· Christians are hypocritical, they say one thing and do another.
· Christians are too focused on getting converts, viewing people as targets rather than fellow humans.
· Christians are bigoted, racists and anti-homosexual
· Christians are too old fashioned, boring, out of touch with and sheltered from reality.
· Christians are too political, motivated by conservative political agendas more so than actual biblical notions.
· Christians are too quick and judgmental towards anyone not themselves, including other
· Christians are far too judgmental to be an effective force for good or change in society.
What is the worst part about these findings? Christians themselves seem to view these opinions as praises. Case in point, if more of us agreed with the negative nature of these opinions, more of us would be doing something about it. Until we practice what we preach, until we treat non-Christians with respect, until we stand up against the hate crimes against those that are different, until we stop bickering among ourselves over appropriate dress, music, hairstyle, living arrangements, eating habits, and other ridiculously meaningless things, this is how we will be viewed and rightly so.
A brief look at LGTBQ:
If you are unaware, this stands for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer community.
I personally identify as Q in the list, under queer (Demi-sexual, look it up). I have been attracted physically and emotionally to six people since I turned 13. Three of those people have been female and three have been male.
The touch of a man feels no different than the touch of a woman. My feelings for the men in my life have been no different than the feelings I have for the women.
My desires are the same: to love, to be loved.
Since half of my love life has been deemed an abomination by the church, my only options have been to:
1. Stop displaying any signs of physical or emotional love towards anyone
2. Ignore claims that any love between any consenting adults can be wrong
I have long since been choosing both options, the former for myself, the latter for others.
For me, it is like eating fried chicken vs. baked chicken.
1. I’m eating chicken in either instance (loving another individual)
2. I’m gaining nourishment in either instance (being loved by another individual)
3. I’m satisfying a basic need in either instance (feeling completed by another individual)
But the debate isn’t over the love.
The debate isn’t over being loved.
The debate isn’t even over feeling the need to be completed by another human being.
The debate is over how the chicken was cooked. The debate is over what I may or may not be doing in the privacy of my own bedroom.
The debate is over the petty insecurities, and prejudices of others.
So I have decided to no longer eat chicken.
I no longer allow myself to love, or accept the love of others.
I have come to terms with the reality that because of the small-ness of others, I will go through life incomplete, unhappy, and alone.
In the face of such controversy over sexuality in the church, I have resigned myself to never act upon my feelings and desires for another human being, regardless of gender.
I have lived in constant fear while in public ever since I learned that there was a label for what I was in the seventh grade…can you not see why?
1998 – Matthew Shepard, a gay student, in Laramie, Wyoming was tortured, beaten severely, tied to a fence, and abandoned there until he was found 18 hours after the attack and succumbed to his injuries less than a week later.
1999 – U.S. Army Pfc. Barry Winchell was murdered in Fort Campbell, Kentucky by fellow soldier Calvin Glover. Winchell was beaten to death with a baseball bat after rumors spread on base of his personal relationship.
2000 – Ronald Gay entered a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia and opened fire on the patrons.
2001 – Fred Martinez, a transgender man and two-spirit student was bludgeoned to death near Cortez, Colorado by 18-year-old Shaun Murphy, who bragged about attacking a “fag”.
2002 – Philip Walsted, a gay man, was fatally beaten with a baseball bat. According to prosecutors, the neo-Nazi views of Walsted’s assailant’s, David Higdon, led to the murder.
2003 – Sakia Gunn, a black 15-year-old lesbian, was murdered in Newark, New Jersey. While waiting for a bus, Gunn and her friends were propositioned by two men. When the girls rejected their advances, declaring themselves to be lesbians, the men attacked them.
2004 – Daniel Fetty, a gay man who was hearing-impaired and homeless was attacked by multiple assailants in Waverly, Ohio. Fetty was beaten, stomped, shoved nude into a garbage bin, impaled with a stick, and left for dead; he succumbed to his injuries the next day.
2005 – Ronnie Antonio Paris, a three-year-old boy living in Tampa, Florida, died due to brain injuries inflicted by his father, Ronnie Paris, Jr. According to his mother and other relatives, Ronnie Paris, Jr., repeatedly slammed his son into walls, slapped the child’s head, and “boxed” him because he was concerned the child was gay and would grow up a sissy.
2006 – Michael Sandy was attacked by four young heterosexual men who lured him into meeting after chatting online, while they were looking for gay men to rob. He was struck by a car while trying to escape his attackers, and died five days later without regaining consciousness.
2007 – Roberto Duncanson was murdered in Brooklyn, New York. He was stabbed to death by Omar Willock, who claimed Duncanson had flirted with him.
2008 – Romel Sucuzhanya, a 31-year-old straight Ecuadorean and his brother Jose, were attacked on a Brooklyn, New York street for appearing to be gay and for being Latino; they were walking arm-in-arm, which is normal for brothers in their culture. Romel later died from his injuries.
2009 – Two men were arrested in Stroudsburg, PA for the stabbing death of gay veteran Michael Goucher.
2010 – 18-year-old Joshua Wilkerson was found dead in a field in Pearland, Texas, after being beaten to death and set on fire by a friend of 5 years, Hermilio Moralez. This was supposedly a retaliation to unwanted sexual advances.
2011 – Kevin Pennington, a gay 28-year-old male, was kidnapped and severely beaten in a Kentucky park by two men shouting anti-gay epithets.
2012 – Mollie Olgin, 19 years old, and her girlfriend, Kristene Chapa, 18 years old, were found shot in the head near Violet Andrews Park in Portland, Texas.
2013 – Sondra Scarber addressed a parent about her girlfriend’s son being bullied at Seabourn Elementary School in Mesquite, Texas, and was beaten by him when he realized that she was a lesbian.
2014– Ahmed Said, 27, and Dwone Anderson-Young, 23, were killed execution-style shortly after midnight in the Leschi neighborhood of Seattle shortly after they left a gay nightclub. Both victims were gay, and Ahmed was apparently lured by being contacting on grindr, a social app popular with gays. Dwone was receiving a ride home from Ahmed Said. The case was soon investigated as a possible hate crime. Both Ahmed and Dwone were shot multiple times; Dwone died inside Ahmed’s car, while Ahmed died immediately outside.
2015 – Taja DeJesus, 36, a trans woman, was found stabbed to death in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco, California.
Gays are being killed and imprisoned in Russia and the Middle East with the support of the church and political leaders.
Gays are being killed in Uganda with the support of American politicians.
Religious leaders across the country call for parents to physically abuse and ultimately abandon their gay children to the streets.
Religious people across America have called for gays to be put to death.
As recent as February of 2015, men were arrested and fined for being homosexual under Louisiana’s unconstitutional Sodomy laws, after all other charges wouldn’t stick.
Tomorrow, these hate crimes could be against me, against my friends, against my family, and against my coworkers.
All evidence suggests that though most Christians would never condone such actions, very few of have stood up against them.
No one should have to live in fear from those from their home towns, home churches, and even their families who should be considered their places of refuge.
It has been said that all it takes for evil to triumph, is for good men to see and do nothing.
Where are all the good men and women?
Why are they doing nothing in the face of these evils?
Am I alone in this fight?
Will no one stand by my side?