Well it beats giving into the Patriarchy!
“When we increasingly understand who we are in relation to an enemy – whether that enemy is legitimate, innocent, or imaginary – we develop an increasingly hostile identity. Such an identity teaches us to see sameness as safety and otherness as danger. It is characterized by duality: us and them, right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness. It promotes a mentality of us versus them, us apart from them, us instead of them, us oppressed by them, or us occupying them, but never us for them or us with them.”
~ Brian McClaren
I am in the middle of my student teaching and next semester the Theatre II class is putting on a production of The Crucible, a McCarthy-ist interpretation of the famous Salem Witch Trials. I believe this choice to be both fantastic for the young theatre students and quite apt for the times in which we live. We are living in the times of witch hunt, fervency, suspicion and falseness.
We have hit a strange new bottom in America. I have witnessed a disturbing rush of polarization amongst the people, in and outside of the Church. The election of Donald Trump in November 2016 has caused a chain of events, some direct and some indirect, that have caused neighbors, families and friends who did not before define things within an us/them dichotomy, begin to do so. People who I love and respect immensely seem to have found a world where one is either the witch or the witch hunter.
I have begun to see a complacency towards white supremacists, and violent backlash by Antifa. I have seem troves of young people adopt Marxism and Nihilism as their fortresses in the battle against a threat that, for me, doesn’t even exist. I have seen calls for an ethno-state and a disturbing amount of research that is in many ways similar to that seen in late 1800s regarding “race”.
This is all to say that both the Church and the world are in the throes of a revolution. This revolution, I’m afraid, is being fought by Christians who have resolved themselves that if you are not with us you are against us, on nearly everything. “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”
The other, be they Conservative, Liberal, Muslim, Black, Mexican, Un-American, Gay, or Jewish, have born the blunt of a self-righteous indignation that has led to marches in the streets and hatred towards their neighbors. I worry for the Church, I worry about what is being taught and preached in our churches to future generations of the Redeemed. When I can look at a co-religionist and wonder where within them hides the Holy Spirit to allow such vitriol and malice towards another human being, one who has done them no harm and who God loves and seeks to heal and reconcile, I am filled with a great sadness. “Are we yet alive?”
A revival, of life and healing, must occur in our churches to curtail this trend towards hostility, subjugation, accusation and hatred towards those with whom we would want to hold animosity towards. The liberal Christian who cannot stand the conservatives churches because of their stance on women or gays. The conservative christian who cannot align with the christian men and women who view abortion as an issue of “my body”. The Christian Antifa member who sees violence and pays it with violence, or the Christian white supremacist who would not welcome a black person to their dinner table.
God’s love for us does not end at the cross, nor does it end at your sinner’s prayer. God’s mercy and benevolence does not stop at theological differences, nor does it yield to biology, gender or nationality. God’s love is greater than us, it is greater than the other.
We too must be greater than the question of us or them.
“You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”~Matthew 5:43-48