Anyone who reads this blog will recognize that I have been and continue to be, a critic of the Religious Right. As a follower of Jesus who considers himself an Evangelical Christian, I have felt that I have the right and responsibility to let it be known that not all of us are such as we are represented by so many of these persons and that they present a caricature of Christianity. I feel that their equating of Christianity with right wing politics and super "patriotism" does a disservice to the Gospel.
Because of these views I have often been labeled a Liberal and I do not reject the label. I feel that the word describes first of all a way of thinking and only secondly a set of political views. (See: THE REPUBLICAN BRAIN and WHY DO I THINK THE WAY I DO?.)
I disagree with many areas of Religious Right ethics because I find them contrary to New Testament teaching. And I feel that the bigotry, intolerance, lying and just plain meanness that is employed by many of them is contrary to the way of Jesus.
However, having said all this, I must say that there are many areas where we do agree. And it is in these areas that I find myself siding with them as they themselves have become the objects of bigotry, intolerance, lying and just plain meanness from the left. While I feel that those on the Religious Right should know better because of their professed regard for the Scripture, I also feel that those on the Left - whether Religious or secular - should know better because of their professed liberal thinking.
Liberal thinking, by definition, is supposed to be broad-minded, not bound by authoritarianism, nuanced and tolerant. Conservative thinking is supposed to be authoritarian, less open to new thinking, less tolerant. So why lately have liberals become so "conservative" in their thinking, speech and actions?
Most persons, including myself, who accept the authority of the Scripture, are convinced that it clearly teaches that homosexual sex is sin. We refuse to revise that conviction because we feel it is biblical. To hold to this conviction does not make us "homophobes," nor does it mean we are "on the wrong side of history" (whatever that means). While it is possible to act on this conviction in a way that contradicts the Law of Love - "Love your neighbor as yourself" - it is also possible and imperative that we let the Law of Love guide all our actions, even and especially in this area.
And so, I believe gay marriage is and should be tolerated by the follower of Jesus as granting the protection of law to those with whom I am in disagreement. Yet this apparently is not enough for many on the left; tolerance is not enough; we are expected to endorse it. And if not we are considered "homophobic."
Because of my convictions in this matter, I as a minister would have to refuse to perform a gay wedding. Does that make me a bigot? Or is it possible that those who would condemn me for acting on my convictions are the real bigots? (By the way, there are a few "straight" weddings that I have refused to perform.)
And I, along with most of those on the right are convinced that abortion is the taking of a human life and thus a terrible evil, though as all evils, a forgivable one. To automatically label those who desire to limit abortion as being sexist and antifeminist is another act of bigotry.
I also, as do most followers of Jesus Christ, believe that Islam is a false religion. I believe that not only is its denial of the deity of Jesus erroneous, but that there is an inherent violence and sexism at its very core. This does not necessarily make us deserving of the label "Islamophobe."
As an Evangelical Christian and as a liberal thinker I would love to see each side stop and listen to the other. If we really consider ourselves followers of Jesus and believers in the authority of Scripture, then we must let the Law of Love control our thinking, our speech and our actions. And if we consider ourselves liberal thinkers, then we must recognize that there are others who think differently than we do, and grant them the liberty to do so.
And we who follow Christ must recognize that all - not just some particular group - are sinners and that all can find forgiveness in Christ.