Wednesday, May 9, 2012

B38. Liberals Are Taking Our Country

Preacher says liberals are taking our country, and we need to be ever watching and alert.  Preacher says we are becoming a minority and must stand up for Jesus amidst a sea of persecution.  Blessed are we when we are persecuted for righteousness sake, he quotes to the situation.

Name-calling is nothing new.  We did it as children.  We do it as adults.  It puts us above other groups of human beings, even if only in our own minds.  If we call them a harsher name than they call us, we can feel like the victors.

Rarely, however, do the names we call each other really mean what we wrap inside them.  Let’s look together at this “liberal” word.

What the preacher means when he says “liberal”

When the preacher calls people liberals, he means “worldly” people who are without Jesus in their lives.  People who make ungodly choices and want to erase God and Christiainity from our culture.  People who are going to hell if they don't repent.

What does “liberal” really mean?

The word “liberal” comes from the Latin liber, meaning “free,” the same root from which we get the word “liberty." Interesting how two words from the same root can be interpreted so differently in our emotions, one appealing to our national pride and the other having evolved into a Christian slur.  Have you ever heard the preacher call someone a “liberal” and mean it kindly?

So who are the liberals?  Those so called are often very educated people, unfortunately another trait often degraded in our churches, even to the point of teaching that education is detrimental to our spiritual consciousness.  Interestingly though, have you noticed that whatever level of education a preacher has, whether a seminary degree or an 8th grade education, that is the most spiritual level, according to him, and anything above that is useless or harmful?

“Liberals” are often well-traveled people.  They have worked with and befriended people of different races, religious backgrounds, and ideologies, and often they have given up their prejudices and judgments of those who are different.  They generally believe that every human being has the right to live his/her life as s/he chooses so long as it doesn't impinge on someone else's rights.

And what about the “godless” accusation?  “Liberals” are both Christian and non-Christian.  For those who are Christian, what they have rejected is not Christianity but the particular brand of Christianity preached in many of our churches.  This brand is fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism was not born with Jesus.  Jesus was as unfundamentalist as they come.  Our particular brand of fundamentalism was born in the 1970s when there was an unprecedented wedding between Christianity and right-wing politics.  This movement was led by Jerry Falwell who started the Moral Majority, and other men like Adrian Rogers, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson.  These men turned the Christian culture into a political powerhouse, thus changing the very nature and focus of our so-called faith. This fundamentalism is characterized by a literal interpretation of the Bible and by anything Republican.

As an aside here, Billy Graham was never a part of this movement.  His Association, now led by his son Franklin, is very much entrenched in it and has recently used the evangelist’s good name to push some politics in which he would never have become involved during his days of leadership.  Billy Graham was the spiritual advisor to all the presidents of his day, without regard to political party, and in 1981 he actually made this powerful statement in an interview with Parade magazine:  “I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form.  It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right.  The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”  Perhaps it would surprise you that one of his ghost writers (celebrities rarely write their own books) was a gay man.  (If interested, read Stranger at the Gate by Mel White.)

A “liberal” Christian is likely to be more interested in reaching out to the poor and oppressed, feeding the hungry, fighting for rights where they see them being trampled, than in our traditional rituals.  Although there’s certainly a place for both, I offer the question of which one most resembles the life and ministry of Jesus.  Perhaps we should be less harsh?  Perhaps there's a place for us all?

Preacher also warns us about “feminists.”  We should avoid them.  Trouble-makers they are.  Worldly.  Can we examine that word too, before we move on?  What does the preacher mean when he says “feminists”?  He means women who do not adhere to the fundamentalist interpretation of women’s roles in the home and church.  A woman’s main purpose, according to fundamentalist understanding, is to support her husband.  Her role in life is centered on child-rearing and home-making.  At church she is a hard worker in multiple behind-the-scenes support roles, and she might teach other women or children, but she does not preach, serve as a deacon, or teach where men are present.

So, what are “feminists” really?  I suppose they are women (no, actually many are men) who dare to think that women have the God-given right to choose their own lives.  To marry or not to marry.  To have children or not to have children.  To be housewives or to be doctors, lawyers, professors, politicians, pastors, gardeners, soldiers, or welders.

Is our current Christian culture helping us share Jesus with those around us?  I don’t think so.  Do you?  What I see is that the Church’s hatred of “liberals,” “feminists,” and let’s not even talk about gay people, is driving them as far away from us as they can get.  And sadly, they might never see Jesus’ reflection in us at all, but Falwell’s instead, or Dobson’s, or maybe even Rush Limbaugh’s.

We have fallen away, my Christian friends, and we must find our way back, or else watch the younger generations, who have rejected our foolishness, find God on their own and develop their own churches which will not resemble ours at all.  Be assured though that God is not dead.  Be assured that God is speaking and working with the younger folks, the educated folks, the Democrats, yes, even the gay people . . . God is a God of open arms, open even to us who have strayed without meaning to stray.

If I am a liberal, if I am a feminist, if I am any other label anyone might want to pin on me, I wear it proudly, along with my Christian label.  Maybe the “liberal” Christians can claim the same Scripture of justification:  blessed are they who are persecuted for standing for Christ, even if the persecutors are other Christians.

The last prayer Jesus prayed was for our unity.  How did He know way back then that we would be fighting amongst ourselves about how to interact with the world and how to read the Scriptures?  Maybe he even knew we’d be calling each other names.  Was his prayer in vain?

Related posts:
God Did Not Write the Bible

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