For thousands of years, people have used religious texts to persecute, justify wrong, and dehumanize. Since Christ walked the earth, people have taken His words and contorted them into something that preaches and breeds intolerance. Before Christ walked the earth, people used other texts to do the same thing. And while Christ walked the earth, we took words of scripture and skewed them to persecute him. For centuries we have perverted His words and turned them into our own. We have taken His words and picked and chosen the ones that fit our current agendas, the ones that help to prove our points.
Two hundred years ago, scripture was used to justify the forcible removal and subsequent slaughter of thousands of Native Americans. Today this is remembered as genocide.
One hundred years ago, scripture was used to justify the implementation and continuation of slavery within our country, the land of the free and the brave.
Fifty years ago, scripture was used to justify Jim Crow laws, further marginalizing a population due to their skin color.
Scripture is, and always has been, used to further marginalize the marginalized populations for which we should be standing up for. We have used to words of God to justify hate, greed, and intolerance. Today we look back at these events with disgust and shame, while moving onto a new population to point fingers at.
Last week I read an article titled “Bruce Jenner is Not a Hero,” and that was the last straw. The author, Suzanne, essentially said that Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner was not brave, it was a disrespect to the way he was created in God’s image.
I don’t know if this is true or not. I don’t know what God thinks about the transformation many transgender individuals choose to go through. I don’t know what God thinks about boob jobs, for that matter. But frankly, I don’t give a sh*t if you don’t agree with Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner. What I care about is proclaiming the name of Christ in a way that is good and just and loving. (And yes, I realize I just said sh*t in the same paragraph as Christ and good and just and loving, but this is me flipping over the tables at the temple courts right now.)
Hear me, hear this. I absolutely believe that Caitlyn Jenner was created in the image of God. I believe that we were all created in the image of God. But I have no right to even pretend to understand the struggle that those in the LGBQT community face. I have no right to tell them what they are allowed to do with their bodies, who they are allowed to marry, or why what they are doing is right or wrong.
As a white, upper middle class, educated, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied woman, dripping with privilege, (replace woman with man in that list & I’d really have it all), I cannot begin to understand what it is like to live in the margins of our society. I cannot begin to understand what it is like to wake up every morning and to know that I am an outsider.
I am not on the outside. I am on the inside, and it is people on the inside who have power. So now, what am I, a woman on the inside, called to do for those on the outside? This goes beyond Caitlyn Jenner, this goes beyond the transgender community. It extends to the pool party incident, and Ferguson, and human rights.
We must stand up for the marginalized. We must stand up and say that something in our society is wrong, something in our faith has been perverted, because we are called to fight for compassion and humanity and love and peace, and when I look around, that’s just not what I see happening. I see Christians trying to control and condemn, and in many cases being applauded for their bravery to speak in such a way.
What would the world look like if we fought for justice of instead of spewing hateful words at those whose struggles we can’t understand? What would it look like if we used scripture to justify the way we love people, and what if we extended that definition of people to include all people?
It is scary to approach a subject we do’t understand. It is scary to wrestle with quesitons. It’s scary to learn about something that doesn’t fit into our cognitive schema. I get it, I really do. It’s hard to realize that we may not have all of the answers. But think about what a different world we could live in if Christians were willing to listen before they speak, if we, as Christians, were willing to wrestle with issues that make us uncomfortable, if we were willing to replace our pointing fingers with open palms.
We need to stand up. We need to scream and shout and tell the world that something isn’t right. We have introduced far too many people to a Jesus of our own creation, and have withheld from them the Jesus who spent his time with prostitutes and tax collectors. At His table, there is room for everyone. You and me and Caitlyn Jenner and Michael Brown and the Ferguson Police Department. Sinners and screw ups, all of us.