Saturday, August 23, 2008

How We Do

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

                        Matthew 5.45 

Life’s Not Fair

One of our more enduring fallacies revolves around entitlement. From the start, we’re taught to expect what we deserve. The reason for this is obvious: parents, teachers, et al., promise rewards to reinforce positive behaviors. It works, too—better than it should, perhaps. We go through life, repeatedly bumping into situations where we’re overlooked, underappreciated, poorly compensated, and discriminated against. This deeply offends the child in us. “It’s unfair!” we cry. And we’re usually right. But let a bona fide cynic sit within earshot and we’re sure to hear, “Life’s not fair.” Unable to admit it, we strike back with homilies on equality and level fields and whatnot. What we really want, though, is a fair break--and that has nothing to do with equality.

Equality Isn’t Fair

We should brace ourselves for this: equality isn’t fair, either. The same broom that sweeps away prejudice takes merit with it. Equality insists no one deserves more or less than the rest. It’s a right, not a reward. Everyone is entitled to equal respect and opportunity. This is why Jesus stressed that God sees all of us the very same way. Most assuredly, He blesses goodness and punishes evil—He’s infallibly fair. But His incentive and non-discrimination policies work independently of one another and if we confuse them, we prime ourselves for disillusionment. It’s vital to keep them separated. We constantly seek God’s favor, yet no matter how good we are, we’ll never be His favorite, because He has none.

A Family Trait

For we who’ve known or witnessed oppression first-hand, Christ’s proclaiming we’re all equal gives us every cause to rejoice. Before breaking out the Champagne and taking to the streets, however, we might want to examine the context of His statement. Once we get its full gist, the bubbly may fizzle, and we may want to postpone the party long enough to internalize the message more fully. 

Jesus does not advocate our equality or condemn our persecutors here. He does exactly the opposite, insisting we offer the same tolerance and parity to them that we want from from them. We do this because of our Father. Treating everyone equally, whether or not we’re seen as equals, is a family trait. It’s how we do.

Never can we relinquish our fight for equality—for everyone. At the same time, we must resist reviling our adversaries as hypocrites, bigots, and evildoers. Since God doesn’t do it, we can’t. It’s not about unfairness to us, or what they deserve. Whether we agree with it or not, it's about what’s right. Should God’s sun inexplicably begin shining exclusively on the righteous and His rain fall solely on their gardens, perhaps we can revisit this. Until then, it’s not up for debate.

We give what we want, focusing on what's right rather than what's fair.

Personal Postscript: New Favorites

God doesn't have favorites, but when it comes to websites promoting GLBT discipleship and Christian enlightenment, I certainly do. In the last couple weeks, I've heard from amazing people who've already carved out lively, fascinating niches on the Internet. To a one, they've sent enthusiastic emails of support for "Straight-Friendly" and immediately linked it to their sites. I'm grateful to repay their kindness here and encourage everyone to check them out.

Christian Gays

An all-around resource for gay believers covering everything from what the Bible says about homosexuality to GLBT Christian humor.

Donna Schaper

A personal website by the superb writer and pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Greenwich Village--one of America's finest bastions of social activism and affirmative faith. 

Freedom 2B[e]

An Australia-based forum targeting, though hardly exclusive to, GLBT believers rejected by Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. 

A Life of Unlearning

A wide-ranging blog by Anthony Venn-Brown, a former Assemblies of God pastor and present GLBT Christian activist (as well as co-moderator of Free2B).

Progressive Christian Alliance

The site of a strong affiliation of ministers and laity dedicated to uniting GLBT believers from all denominations under the banners of inclusion and evangelism.

Shuck and Jive

A highly informative and entertaining blog hosted by John Shuck, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, a boldly progressive Bible-Belt church in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

(Coming Sunday: New Welcoming Churches)


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