I live in Nashville,TN, otherwise known as the buckle of the Bible Belt. I haven’t done the research, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that we have more churches per capita than any other place in the country. I pass four churches just going to Walgreens and Walgreens is ONE MILE from my house. When you move into a new neighborhood, one of the first questions your neighbors will ask is “Do you have a home church, yet?” It’s a very Christian kind of place. Kind of.
Recently, two children were denied admission, nay, denied even a tour of a local private Christian school, because their parents are gay.
Why, you may wonder, would two gay men even try to send their children to a Christian school? What did they expect?
Answer: One of the fathers is a PASTOR. And they expected that a school that professes to have the same beliefs that they do would welcome two new students and provide them an excellent Christian education. These men are BRAVE in their faith, people.
See, somehow, they actually think that the message of Christ is one of inclusion and love. They actually BELIEVE that God’s love is for everyone. Even tax collectors. Even whores. Even murderers. Even gay people. Gasp.
Now, I could have told you what was going to happen. Isn’t it obvious? Look around. Who are those people screaming the loudest that homosexuality is a choice, and further, a sinful choice? Who are those people carrying signs with lovely slogans like, “God hates Fags?” and marching en masse in front of courthouses to make sure their heterosexual marriages are not threatened by a gay man or a lesbian? Christians, people. Duh.
Maybe. Who am I to say?
But they aren’t the only Christians. Those two fathers – they are Christians too. And me? Yeah, I guess me too. I love me some Jesus. It’s some of his followers I’m iffy on. It took me a LONG time to come around to this. I kept seeing all these assholes calling themselves Christians, all these people forking over money for symbolic cemeteries for aborted babies and simultaneously demanding that Food Stamp benefits for hungry children were too high. All these people raising millions of dollars to build huge churches, then ushering the homeless out of their services on Sunday because they made the membership feel uncomfortable. All these people praising God for their blessings and never stopping to bless anyone else. All these people I wanted NOTHING to do with. I wouldn’t call myself Christian because I didn’t want to be guilty by association.
I see all these things, and you know what? Those fathers see all these things too. And worse, I’m sure. Much worse. But faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) And this is where I call those men heroes. Heroes of their faith. They see the hatred and bigotry and discrimination, and just plain meanness, and they choose to believe in something higher. They choose to say, “God is MY God too. You don’t own him. Jesus loves ME too. You can’t tell me he doesn’t. The church is MY church every bit as much as it is your church, and I.WANT.IT.BACK.”
And that school? Davidson Academy? Who cares?
They can do whatever they want. It’s a free country. Nobody is suing anybody. If they want to practice a faith of exclusion, if they want to shut the door in the face of the people Jesus loves, the whores, the tax collectors, the murderers, the gays, the shouting mamas, the bad tippers… so be it.
Mr. Edwin Markham pretty much sums it up in his tiny poem, “Outwitted”.
He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.