The Church of Mississippi
An open letter to Christians in America (Especially you Mississippi),
Not everyone knows that before I was an artist and designer I used to be a Christian pastor. For 13 years I served in one form of Christian ministry or another. My career in Christianity ended when I quietly left the faith about 4 years ago. Though I was fairly open with my closest friends about the nature of my departure I tried my best to keep my views to myself. Having spent 13 years telling people how they should be living their lives I had little desire to return to the practice. I only really stayed in the faith as long as I did in the hopes that I could somehow be an instrument of change in the Christian church. I left when I realized that the Christian church would never change.
It has since been my policy to just let people live the lives they want to live. I apply this rule to everyone, including Christians. Most of my family and a lot of my friends are Christians and I have no desire to keep them from practicing their faith. I no longer agree with what they believe but I do believe they should be free to practice their faith.
Like a lot of people in this county I was appalled when Arizona threatened to put into law legislation that would allow business owners to discriminate against the LBGT community by refusing them service. I was even more appalled to hear they were doing it in the name of religious freedom! When the law was struck down I was so relieved and my faith partially restored in the people of this nation.
This morning I awoke to see that Mississippi has in fact passed the same legislation Arizona wisely passed on. When I read the news I just couldn’t take it. We’re not talking about a theological dispute anymore, now Christians are using their influence to take rights and liberties away from people they disapprove of. The hypocrisy of this act is astounding.
At this moment in America, Christianity is proclaiming itself to the world as a religion based on love. Yet their actions directly contradict the teachings of Christ about love. Christians picket the funerals of soldiers with signs proclaiming “God Hates Fags,” are constantly posting anti-LBGT messages on every social platform available, and now are seeking legislation that legalizes their hate. Whenever I talk to “believers” about the evils Christianity is committing toward the LBGT community in this country I typically get this response:
“I’ve never picketed against Gays. Christianity is about love and I love the homosexual community. But the bible says it’s a sin so I can’t condone their lifestyle. I choose to love the sinner and hate the sin. I would never picket someone like that. Those people are a different sect than mine.”
I created this piece in protest to the way Christians behave in this country. You claim to be followers of a man who laid down his life for people who hated him. You say you believe in a God of love who sacrificed his only son to save a wicked and sinful people and then you deny the world around you that same love. I accuse you, Christians, of having strayed so far from the teachings of Christ that it is hard to see why you still bear his name. You can look at the story of the good Samaritan, or the story of Jesus feeding crowds with fishes and loaves, or the story of Paul telling a Roman soldier not to kill himself when God opened the prison and countless others and see a message that gives love without requirement. God does not require people to first be Christians before he will love them. If he did, he would not have sent his son to die. As Paul said in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
A Christian who would deny service to someone based on their sexuality is like Jesus only loving people who first love him. Your actions and your message are out of alignment.
I wish I could say this is just a message for the “culture” of Christianity but the truth is, every single individual person who calls themselves a Christian is responsible for what is happening in Mississippi. You are responsible for the behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church. You may not condone homosexuality but if you want the freedom to practice your faith in this country, it is right to extent that same freedom to the LBGT community. If someone wanted to create legislation that would allow businesses to refuse service to Christians, you would throw a fit! If you don’t want Muslims making laws against Christians you have to hold yourself to the same standard.
You can’t be exonerated by inaction! The fact that you have not personally acted hatefully toward the LBGT community means nothing. You have stood by and watched as your cohorts stripped the LBGT community in Mississippi of their rights. You watched your brothers oppress a people group and said nothing. Why aren’t you protesting your own people? Why aren’t Christians releasing statements in the media decrying the actions of these hateful representatives of your culture? You can tell us all you want how you’re not like them. We don’t see it. How can you stand there and watch your people do this and do nothing.
This piece is meant to be a challenge. I challenge Christians to start acting like Christ. Leave the LBGT community alone! Stop your peers from hurting an already hurting community. Stop telling them God loves them; start showing them. Jesus stood up for sinners. He stood up for prostitutes. People followed Jesus because he healed them, he fed them, he cared for them, and he gave his life for them all while they were still sinners.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” I John 4:7-10
The Jeff Wester