Once upon a time I violated a fellow Christian last night. Well, nearly, if I count all the times I harbored ill will to those whose lips profess Christ.
Forgive the hyperbole but I am attempting here to point out that most of us haven’t quite achieve sainthood status. Pope Francis hasn’t more than one block open for the next in line saint-to-be. Such are a rarity, with Mother Theresa being the last canonized saint in the past one thousand days.
Why are Christians nasty and capable of unleashing devastation? One common answer is that those despicable characters were not real believers. They are fake as a three-dollar bill. After all Jesus said: “you will know them by their fruit.’ Yes of course, the wolves in sheep’s clothing are real, there’s no denying the reality. But what about those who commit grave sins, crimes, and misdemeanors? Are they saved? Or are they as irremediable as the devil?
You are the Man
Christians are sinners. We aren’t floating in the clouds playing harps to angelic audiences, mind you. Perfection is still the prerogative of the divine, although the Bible hesitates to use that word. “I am not perfect, I am just trying.” Problem is, Jesus told a crowd: “Be perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect.” In other words, there is a standard that we ought to be striving for that meets certain benchmarks of what is acceptable to God. Behavior matters. Ethics matters. Saved by grace and forgiven isn’t an empty slogan devoid of moral demands. It is not the case that I simply accept Jesus and from then on anything goes, I can do whatever I want. I could rape, steal, cheat, and lie, and find myself with a clean slate the next dawn. Correct? Yes and No. Yes God forgives and yet the moral order of the universe and the powers that be won’t just let us get away with being unrelenting renegades. God won’t have a universe run on the fuel of anarchy and chaos. There is a price to pay for deviancy and delinquency. You probably will be forgiven, albeit in prison.
There is a certain brand of militant Christian who have taken up the mission to attack with vitriolic rage the bedroom activities of consenting adults. And yet one is so surprised that the effort to defeat world hunger, achieving social justice in the world, and ending racial and wage discrimination in the work place isn’t tackled with the same zeal and enthusiasm and a sense of indignation. We would rather burn gay activists and sex workers at the stake (a la Torquemada), than press the purveyors of opression to halt injustice. The latter are more pressing problems. We can’t really do anything about the former. Consenting adults will ultimately follow their own devices even when admonished otherwise. How many churches and their flock are going to volunteer to police the hotels and penthouses of singles and marrieds to ensure their sexual purity isn’t being compromised?
Sexual ethics matter. We’ll be damned if we pollute our marriages and loyalties of our significant others. People are cheating more than ever and Hollywood never tires with the never-ending romanticizing of adultery and fornication. Yet down-to-earth common sense still says that faithfulness makes sense because it is the only fire-proof measure we have to preserve the dignity and integrity of the family. Yet although there’s a sense in which human sexuality has been distorted, in another sense we still manage to behave like puritanical, self-righteous pricks when criticizing homosexuality, prostitution, and bisexuality. Christians are eager to point their bony fingers here all the while casually divorcing their spouses and neglecting their children and then filing for a new marriage license the next day. The Bible has about six admonitions against homosexuality and hundreds against heterosexuality. So now, who needs the most supervision?
Whose sins did Christ target the most? It wasn’t the sexual sinners. It was towards the religious hypocrites of his day that Christ reserved his most scathing condemnation. Don’t get me wrong. Sexual oddities and distortions are bad enough to deserve regulation and punishment. Sexual abuse and perversion should never be tolerated in a civilized society and among polite company. We must protect children and the vulnerable against predation from unscrupulous, sick individuals.
Yet there is a persistent unhealthy preoccupation with sexual issues, as though we wish that sex went away. Sex isn’t going away. If you are reading this, you are here because of it. Sex is good. Sex is God’s gift to humanity and it is insurance against extinction. We owe it to the puritans and other hysterical purists like Saint Augustine and the early Church Fathers the notion that sex is the root of evil and that all sin for that matter, stems from sex. That is about 180 degrees wrong. These guys were misguided and have misread the Bible. The root of all evil is pride. Pride is the sin that shot satan out of heaven. Pride exiled our first parents out of paradise. Nasty doesn’t start with the organs below the belt. It originates in the heart, in the warped will that puts self as supreme and every one else underfoot to be trodden and despised.