I Guess I’m a Dirty Christian

Image from Catholic.org “Christians shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty to save others from sin”

There’s a movement flowing through Christianity at the moment. A movement that perhaps was sparked by thought leaders like Brennan Manning, Martin Luther King Jr, Henri Nouwen, Marianne Williamson and Shaine Claiborne. The movement was set ablaze after the election when so many Christians, like myself, found it inexplicable that the GOP could be so heavily endorsed by the Evangelical Church. We simply cannot understand how the teachings of Jesus who told us to care for the poor, welcome the refugee, and bless the sick, can be fulfilled through politically conservative policies. This has become about so much more than one or two issues (abortion and gay marriage, for example) this is about tone. It’s about underlying motivations for policies. The motivations feel very un-Christian to us. It feels like many Christians just want people to follow their rules instead of truly caring about the people involved. This has created a great deal of angst.

This angst has caused us to start asking… Where is Jesus in all of this?

We’re starting to ask questions about Biblical context.

We’re starting to broaden our views of what the term “pro-life” means.

Best of all, we’re starting to throw-off the facade that being a Christian means to have it all together.

Surely, we are re-defining Christianity. Many of my friends have said lately that they don’t even want to take on the label of “Christian” anymore because of the connotations that come with that. The vibe that comes with this label is one that feels self-serving, self-righteous, self-reliant. This feels so wrong compared to the tone of Jesus who displayed humility, sacrificial love, and deep dependence.

So what does this new wave of Christians look like? Well…

We may cuss.

We may listen to secular music (and actually shudder at most pop-Christian tunes that feel contrived and commercial).

We may sometimes drink too much.

We may go out dancing at LGBTQ clubs.

We may give homeless people our phone numbers.

We may need a break from church some weeks and instead go for a hike to worship God in creation.

We may get tattoos that don’t have any deep spiritual meaning.

God forbid, we might even vote DEMOCRAT.

We’re dirty. And we just don’t give a shit about pretending not to be.

Because here’s the thing we’ve realized, God isn’t interested in A+ students. He’s interested in us loving Him and loving others. Period. We’re not worried about envy evangelism (that’s when you try to entice people to Christianity by creating a life that others are envious of). That’s a fools errand. Good people are not guaranteed a shiny, pretty life. We’ve realized that what makes Jesus so attractive is that He loves us even when we’re not. Because we are made in His image we are both broken and beautiful. We trust that through a continued relationship with Him, we will be molded into who we are meant to be but that we are also fully loved just the way we are. Admittedly, this is a tension that is very difficult to hold. But we’re tired of fabricating an image so that we can fit in with other Christians. We’re more interested in letting God use us right now, just as we are. And if he can use an adulterer/murderer (David) I think he can use someone who says “fuck” every now and then.

I have a lot of hope for this next wave of Christianity. This is a Christianity that will set people free. 

But here’s a word of caution to my fellow Dirty Christians. It’s not for us to judge the old wave. There are good things there too. Here are some that I can think of:

-Dedication to tithing. (How can we keep money from being an idol if we don’t trust God in this way?)

-Loyalty. (We are called to stay united. We have to stick through our differences together, like family.We can’t judge other Christians for not being “accepting” and then turn around and not accept them. Just saying.)

-Scripture memorization. (While I don’t think that this should be done out of contrived duty, it can be done with the appreciation that God’s word is living and powerful.)

We also have to remember the concept of projection. If we see a flaw in another, it most likely means we struggle with that flaw ourselves. Not only is this a psychological concept, it’s a Biblical one (the whole log in your eye thing). We can be passionate but we also need to stay gracious. Our compassion isn’t only meant for the outcast, it’s also meant for our brothers and sisters.

So, onward, Dirty Christian. Don’t give-up on the Church, you’re re-defining it as we speak.

 

Dear Progressive Church,

*This was originally written in August 2016*

Dear Progressive Church, My Friends,

I can look you square in the face and tell you all of the reasons why we shouldn’t drive faster than the speed limit. I know it increases mortality rates. But yeah, I just got a speeding ticket for going 15 miles over the speed limit a couple of weeks ago so… So my point is, what I am about to write about isn’t something I’ve perfected. In fact, I think I’m actually pretty horrible at this and I want you to know I’m really not saying that to sound humble. But I’ve been feeling really convicted to write about it. This is one of those pieces that I just can’t shake. So here it is.

I avoided Christianity for years because I didn’t like Christians. They seriously annoyed the heck out of me. How can people be so exclusive? How can people be so judgmental? ESPECIALLY people who claim to follow Jesus, a man who radiated love and inclusiveness. A man who effortlessly loved the outcasts and the marginalized. The outcasts of our day, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, people of color, muslims, etc., are seeming to receive no such love from the church. How can a group of self-proclaimed Jesus followers be so hateful to those groups of people?? It makes my blood boil. I’ll stop there but let tell you, I could go on for paragraphs about this.

I don’t think I’m alone here. I’ve heard many of my progressive Christian friends and even pastors talk down about this group of people. We are harsh when we remind them that the only people Jesus was harsh to were the Pharisees. We rally ourselves around this and claim that we will not be like them.

Now, I’m going to write about the part I don’t want to write about. The part where I admit what is probably quite obvious to outsiders. Wait for it, it’s going to sting. Take a deep breath: We’re projecting.

The Pharisees were the judgmental, exclusive, rule-obsesesed religious folk of Jesus’ day. Somehow, this has given us license to exclude, judge, and maybe even hate the Pharisees of our day. This is not ok. We are doing to them, the same thing that they are doing to the “least of these.” My fellow liberal Christians, we have to figure out a way to extend love to this group and here are a couple of reasons why.

First of all, they are not a “group.” We are talking about individuals who cannot and should not be lumped into a category to be pre-judged. They have real life stories and histories that have molded and shaped them into who they are today. Many of them have have only be taught one way of thinking. We need to have humility and recognize that we only believe what we believe because of information we have encountered. This information may have then led us down a path of seeking more information but we did not choose what we were exposed to initially.

Second, there is NO WAY Jesus’ message of love will sink in if we, their own brothers and sisters, are un-loving to them. How can we expect them to listen to stories of the marginalized if we aren’t willing to listen to their stories? And there are stories, painful ones.

We are in such a critical time in our society. We need all of the advocates for the marginalized that we can get. I truly have faith that if someone is really a Jesus follower, they can be turned to the side of justice. Maybe if we are willing to be a little less harsh and a little more gracious, we can find common ground and we can build a better world together.

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Maybe this is all naive. Maybe I’m a dreamer. All I know is what I see now is major division in our country and in our congregations. What we’re doing now isn’t working. The truth is: People are more motivated by emotion than facts. It’s sad, but it’s true. This is the way that our brains are wired. We have to stop pushing the statistics and start breaking bread. Relationship is the only way things can change.

**** Now this is post Election 2016*****

It’s more important now than ever that we listen to the real complaints of those who seem so different than us. We’re not all so different. We all want to live full, happy lives and offer our children the same. We just have different views on how to get there. We do have different values in some ways but I think we would be surprised where we can overlap. It’s time to be Jesus ourselves instead of shaming others into compassion. It just doesn’t work and quite frankly, it’s unkind. Look, I’m going to have such a hard time following my own advice here (remember the speeding ticket??) but this is what I hope to strive for… and I hope I’m not alone.

 

 

Peace,

Jaclyn Signature

Dear Christian Men, We Need You

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First, I want to thank you for reading this. Whether you subscribe to my blog (extra points!) or a woman in your life forwarded it to you (even better, extra points with her!). Just the fact that you’re reading this is evidence that you care about the women in your life. I appreciate your heart. This really isn’t another political opinion article trying to sway you to vote for the candidate of my choice. I will not be promoting a vote for Hillary or anyone else. This is a call for you and other men of faith to please tread cautiously and intentionally this election cycle for the sake of those you care about most. Because the truth is, we desperately need you to.

Let’s take a step back from this whole circus for a minute. Take GIANT step back, keep going. Ahhh, isn’t that nice? We can breathe easier over here. So from here we can see that there’s a guy running for President of the USA who totally breaks political barriers, he’s not a political puppet, he’s radical. Finally, someone out of the box.  Finally, someone who isn’t “playing the game.” Pretty cool right? And then, equally cool, there’s actually a woman running for president, for the very first time! This is so great because now you know you really can tell your daughter that she can be anything she wants to be. She really could be President of the United States of America. That is so awesome.

Now, you know this article is about women so let’s talk about that for a sec. Let’s turn our back away from the whole election completely and look at what life in America is like for the women you love in your life. I want you to think about your mom, your wife, your daughter, your niece. For many reasons that I won’t get into here, these loves of your life are being paid less than men with equal qualifications. This isn’t necessarily your fault, so no need to get defensive here, just let it be what it is: reality.

Keep thinking about your daughter, your niece, your wife, your mom… They are more likely to be victims of sexual violence. Imagine that. This is primarily because women are globally disrespected and objectified.

Now think about these same loved ones and all of the pressure they feel to look a certain way. More and more men are being pressured to look a certain way too, so I think you can kind of understand how hard this is. How hard it is to feel like your body needs to be perfect. To every day think that your body isn’t good enough. This will effect what you eat, what you wear, what you buy, almost everything because your body goes with you EVERYWHERE. Sucks to feel that pressure to have the six pack like that dude on Men’s Health, doesn’t it?

Now this one might sting a little but I have to go there. How many of you are still using porn every now and then? Statistics say that if you’re a Christian male it’s probably about 80% of you. The adult women in your life, and possibly the younger ones, know that you’ve seen it. We know what those women look like. We know how they act. Women in porn are there to be fun and to have no issues. images-7They’re not portrayed as real women with real personalities, real emotions, or real dreams. This is harmful for the women in your life because now we’re not only supposed to look perfect but we are supposed to “be” perfect. Now, I totally know that you don’t really wish that upon your daughters, your wife, your mom, your sister… But this is the message we’re getting whether you intended it or not. This  called, “objectification.” We’re expected to be objects. Again, I know this is happening with men too. I cringe every time I see women treating men with the same disrespect. I don’t think it’s ok. That is not how we achieve equality. That’s another topic for another time.

Ok, now that we’ve painted a little backdrop, let’s move back to the election. The women and girls in your life need you now more than ever. We’ve been sent all these messages and now here is a man running for President who is downright mean about the way women look. All of the women in his life look like they’ve had multiple rounds of plastic surgery and obviously we know that he loves beauty pageants. Look, there’s nothing wrong with beauty. However, when it is seen as the most important characteristic of a woman, well that’s just unfair and unkind. We are so much more than something to look at and take pleasure in. Would you really want your daughter to be on a stage in a bathing suit to be judged by hundreds, if not thousands, of people? Would you tell your little niece that if she doesn’t like her body, it’s ok, she can just get surgery someday? I say all of this because this is the message being sent by the Republican candidate. The one who is being backed mostly by Christian men. And I have to be honest with you, at first this angered me, but now I realize that actually, it really really hurts. 

It hurts a lot that my brothers are not sticking-up for me and my sisters and our daughters. It hurts that Christian men are putting politics above protection. We deserve more than a leader who objectifies women. I know what you’re doing now, you’re thinking “but who I am supposed to vote for??” Look, I’m not going to tell you to vote for anyone. But I am asking you to join many other leading Christian men and not vote for Donald Trump… because it is hurtful and damaging to the women in your life. It’s horrible that we are in this situation where we don’t have two outstanding candidates from the two major parties. I get that. But please, think about the message you are sending to the girls and women in your life. 

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Let’s say you still decide to vote for Donald. That’s fine. But please, take a moment to tell your wife, your daughter, your sister, your mom, etc. that you are not okay with the fact that he supports the objectification of women. Tell them that you do believe women are equal to men and deserve the same amount of pay. Tell them why you are voting for him, but don’ t make it about Hillary, just make it about him. Because whether you like it or not, your vote is sending a message to us.

And for the women who are voting for Donald. I implore you to take a good look at how you value yourself. Do you find yourself feeling that you would be more valuable if you looked “better?” Have you subjected yourself to countless diets? Maybe even surgery to try to feel good enough? If so, then you are like me and you have drunk the Kool-Aid my friend. For so long we have bought into the lie that to be valuable we should be porn-pretty. This is just a lie. Spit. the Kool-Aid. out. To support Trump, you are saying that it’s ok to have a leader who has also bought into this lie. It could mean that you don’t really value yourself as a woman. Maybe there’s a part of you that believes you don’t deserve more pay or more respect. I’m not saying it’s true, but please consider it.

Look, I know this has been a lot and I really hate that this is even a political discussion but this election has made it so. All I’m asking is that if you’re a man, especially a Christian man, please take a moment to understand what it’s like to be a woman in our society today. Jesus always fought for the underdog and as much as I hate to admit it, women still are the underdogs of the world. Stick-up for us. Fight for us. Be our allies and advocates. We need you on our side.

 

Thanks for reading,

Jaclyn Signature

 

 

 

More:

Why These Evangelical Leaders are Firmly Against Trump (Huffington Post)

7 Conservative Christians (Men) Who Are Not Supporting Trump (Religion News) – Max Lucado is on this list

Trump’s Offer to Christians is the Same Offer the Devil Made to Christ (Christian Post)  – “I know the editors of CP to be good evangelical Christians, but they made the same mistake many evangelicals are liable to make. They said they were actually tempted by Trump’s offer to “Vote for me, and I will give you Supreme Court picks and abolish the Johnson Amendment.”

Trump’s “tempting” offer is remarkably like another made two millennia ago … when the Devil offered Jesus the power to rule over all the kingdoms of the world with justice and mercy, if only Christ would bow down to the Devil. American Christians should not take a deal Jesus rejected.”

 It profits a man nothing to give his soul in exchange for the entire world … how can we possibly consider doing so in exchange for Trump’s empty promise of Supreme Court nominees?

It can’t be because of abortion. When George W. Bush was President, 2/3 of the Supreme Court were Republican appointees, and Republicans controlled the White House and all of Congress. Yet Roe remains. We cannot possibly be so naïve as to believe Donald Trump — who until he decided to run as a Republican supported partial birth abortion without restriction — would do more.”
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/trumps-offer-to-christians-is-same-offer-devil-made-christ-168993/#q4SrvfErYHQTKx6o.99