May 3, 2016
So, a room of 500 parents at a South Carolina school board meeting broke into a chorus of “Jesus Loves Me” to drown out a mother who was asking for bathroom access for transgender youth. Seeing that upset me deeply, and I want to talk for just a minute to my brothers and sisters in the faith. I want to remind you that the name of Jesus is holy, and not to be taken lightly; there’s a commandment against that. And it is never to be used to drown someone out. That’s not what that name is for. If you think that’s what that name is for, you might could want to read the Sermon on the Mount again. Maybe a few more times, in fact.
If our people have fallen to the point where 500 parents can sing a children’s hymn to drown out the voice of a concerned mother, then there is more sickness and rot in today’s church than I knew. My brothers and sisters, we know where this road leads. In the 50s, we hit the point where white mothers chanting hymns and religious catchphrases tried to push over the buses that were carrying black children to school. That’s where this fear of people who are different from you leads, if you let that fear master you, if you let that fear live in and rule over your house.
There is only one place in the Bible where a religious catchphrase or hymn is chanted over and over in order to silence someone. That’s in Acts: it’s when some of the early Christians are dragged into the theater of Artemis in Ephesus, and when they try to speak, they are drowned out by 30,000 people yelling, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” They are silenced by a mob that is driven by its fear of people who are different, people who are unarmed and who have done nothing wrong but who are seen nonetheless as a threat. That is what you are doing, in that board meeting in South Carolina. That is what you’re doing. You are the mob who won’t let a mom speak because you are that afraid of what she has to say. Don’t be that.
You 500, I understand you’re afraid; our culture has set us up with all kinds of fears, and every time you turn on a laptop or a phone or a radio, there’s a pundit or a blogger or a video clip working hard to stoke your fears. But: Who do you think you are?? Who do you think we are? We are the Body of Christ, and that body is to be used to heal, to lift up, to love, to hold and to feed, and never to silence a mother or a child.
You’re afraid, and I understand that, but as a brother, I offer this rebuke: You’re afraid; so what?
Fear counts for nothing.
Unease counts for nothing.
Faith and perfect love cast out fear; don’t you remember that?
Where is your faith?
Where is your love?
You are not placed here on this earth to act on your fears. That’s not what you’re called for. You’re called to love fearlessly, and serve fearlessly, and share the good news fearlessly, and feed the flock fearlessly, and heal, and give people hope. That’s your job; that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. Do your job.
There’s a lot more that I want to say here, but I will wait until I’m not angry.
A brief follow-up, in the wake of a few upsetting conversations. Dear fellow Christians: Please remember that our calling does not vary depending on who else is at the table. It does not matter if the people at the table with you are Pharisees or tax collectors or zealots or fishermen or social outcasts, or if they are “saints” or “sinners,” or if they share your faith or don’t, or if they are idle or hardworking, or if they are deserving or not, or if they are gay or transgender, or Muslim, or whether they wear pants or a skirt, or have tattoos, or if they are thin or round, or if they are left-wing or right-wing, or if they speak your language much, or if they have a different skin color than you do, or if you happen to like them or not, or if you feel comfortable with them or not. You are still called to kneel and wash their feet. You are still called to love and serve. Your calling does not vary depending on who is at the table. – Stant