As I was perusing the wonder that is the internet this week, I came across several articles that made me shake my head until I had a headache. Well, let me be clear — the head-shaking was directed toward the content of the first article [Should Christians Participate in Color Runs?], and the comments in response to the second [Christian Rocker Vicky Beeching Comes Out].
According to the author of the first article, Christians SHOULDN’T participate in wildly popular “color run” 5k events because “It seems there is in the Hindu religion an event called the Holi festival, each year in India, where colors are thrown into the air. It’s a magical festival, celebrating the destruction of Hiranyakashipu, a king of demons … The festivities officially usher in spring, the celebrated season of love.” As my very outspoken grandmother Dot would say, “Oy.”
The second article was overwhelmingly positive. Vicky Beeching, Oxford educated theologian and one of the premiere female voices in the world of Christian Rock, came out this week. It takes extraordinary bravery for a Christian to “admit” to being gay, but I’m sure it took Vicky more courage than most, because she she is the first high profile female theologian to come out, not to mention that her songs are sung by millions of people in the American Bible belt. In coming out, she risked career suicide. The backlash was immediate. On her own facebook page, people have posted slurs, called her demon possessed, and a few have even said, “you’re better off dead than gay.” Christians are burning her cd’s, writing angry blogs vilifying her, and are saying that the decade of worship music she’s written [that has touched the hearts of millions] is now negated and somehow ‘tainted’. One particularly acidic person actually posted, “The homosexuals are bringing the end times, and us Christians need to know who these wolves in sheeps clothing are. I have an idea. Make them tattoo that rainbow flag they love so much on their foreheads. Their [sic] already the mark of the beast. Just add a 666, and we’ll all know who they are.” Again, OY. And the worst part…his comment garnered 36 ‘likes’ before it was removed [presumably by an adimin].
As I sat at my computer reading these articles, I couldn’t help but think that Christians are monumentally misplacing their outrage.
I’m not saying people aren’t allowed to have strong opinions, or stand up for what they believe is the ‘right’ way to practice their religion. However, I seriously doubt that a single person is going to renounce Christianity because they participated in a color run. And if we’re going to burn the cd’s of every Christian artist who has “sinned” based on a literal interpretation of two sentences in the Bible, there’d be no music left.
What I am saying is this:
We as christians have become so micro-focused on finding ‘sins’ in the innocent and the inherent that we have become blind to the TRUE outrages of our day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a Christ follower. I used to pastor a church. My faith is important to me. It helps to define me. And I don’t doubt that those same christians who would find “sin” where there is none also love the Lord with all their hearts. But that zealousness becomes a problem when they forget that they are one person, who believes in one interpretation of scripture. Expecting the entirety of Christendom [thousands of denominations] to conform to their personal interpretation of the Bible, [which wasn’t even written in English, and most people don’t bother to translate back to the original text] is a recipe for disaster. It’s never going to happen, no matter how loudly they denounce this or that, or how hard they thump on The Book.
If our goal is ‘outreach’ [a word i detest, by the way, because it usually has an undertone of ‘we’re better than you’ attached to it], then all this misplaced outrage just doesn’t work. It would be like choosing Gilbert Gottfried as the celebrity spokesman for a lullaby company .
But the problem is bigger than a poor spokesman.
When throwing packets of dyed cornstarch at people as they run a 5k, or someone flying a rainbow flag, generates more outrage than young brown children, fleeing to a supposedly ‘christian’ nation from war zones, kept like animals in giant caged detention centers, or young black teens being shot simply for walking while black, THERE’S A SERIOUS PROBLEM.
If you’re not outraged about what happened to Trayvon Martin, to Michael Brown, to the Central American children whose parents are willing to lose them forever in order to save their lives, but you see a rainbow flag or a color run as a threat to Christianity, then you’re simply focusing on the wrong color problems.
I’m certain that many christians will rebutt me, saying that it is our duty to defend the Bible. And many, including me, have grown up learning that an attack on the Bible is an attack on Christianity, and ultimately, an attack on God. I find fault in that thinking. God’s a big boy. He can fight His own battles. He’s not an impotent villain, and christians aren’t his minions.
But there are times when outrage is appropriate. Even Jesus expressed well-placed disdain for the self-righteous religious leaders of the day. The Pharisees and Sadducees were often the target of his ire. He had plenty of words for them. Those religious know-it-alls, outraged over things like eating shellfish and wearing clothes made of more than one kind of fiber, thought they held the perfect top 613 list of “Stuff God Likes”. Jesus knew better, and very vocally called them blind guides, fools, hypocrites, a brood of vipers, and whitewashed graves [clean on the outside but rotten to the core]. When we show self-righteous outrage toward those who don’t subscribe to our way of thinking, arguing minutiae instead of following Jesus’ command to love one another, we run the risk of earning those very names for ourselves.
In other words, we just need to let it go. Self-righteous outrage over minutiae is not worth the trouble. If judgment is to come, let Him be the sword. Meanwhile, let’s focus on the REAL issues at hand. Let’s get outraged about little brown children in cages. Let’s get outraged about young black teens who are learning, sadly, that they are targets simply because their skin color is ‘wrong’. Let’s stop fighting the silly ‘color wars’ over 5k’s and sexual orientation, and start focusing on the real ‘Color War’ — the battle for us to remember that ‘red, brown, yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”