I mean, I suppose that you *could* because people keep doing it; but I just don’t get it.
It does not compute to me. When I look at the two ideologies, I see conflict.
It just doesn’t jive.
Mind you, I have been a person who has subscribed to the teachings of Jesus for a long time. My favorite, personal bible has been with me through many changes over these 20 years. Over fifteen years ago, I was aligned with the evangelical crowd. I was at church several days per week. I taught Sunday School and bible camp, and even went to pro-life events.
I know – right? Yikes.
Now, while I’ve grown to evolve from dogma, I still have a relationship with my dude, Jesus.
I always thought Jesus was a pretty cool cat. He always hung out with the people that the old-school version of the evangelicals (Pharisees) hated. Jesus didn’t care about your gender or your job or your socioeconomic status, so long as you were a decent person.
Love was his jam and I can dig that.
It was always taught to me – and the way that I understood it – that Jesus came to not follow those old rules anymore. He was a radical and, by their very own belief and texts, he was the new way to go. He came to clear out that old testament jabber and move forward with one, main, core tenant: love.
He commanded that the greatest thing is love. Love first – in everything.
And hating someone based on something like race isn’t love. It’s not even remotely close.
In John 15:17, Jesus says quite clearly: “This is my command: love one another.”
But he’s not talking about romantic love or digging the people who think the same as you. He wasn’t a fan of the self-congratulating echo chambers.
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matthew 5:46) That goes against our self-centered desire for confirmation bias, eh?
You see, he was about the kind of love that is hard. The kind of love that we have to work at. The kind of love that makes us uncomfortable with ourselves and our crappy human narratives.
Love that doesn’t come with judgement and hate, but a love that is rooted in a mutual understanding. The love that acknowledges the truth we’re all perennial fuck ups and that’s okay to say.
Love that says: I may not be into what you’re into, but I respect your humanity to not try to police it or inhibit it. Because if I inhibit or control you, I’m not loving you.
But, being human gets in the way of loving.
You see, there is no perfection in our species. There never has been and there never will be.
We’re all riding in this flaming dumpster fire together.
Our instinctual, basal ego will try to tell us otherwise. It will lie to us and laugh at us for making mistakes or saying the wrong thing. It’s like perpetual cancel culture (which doesn’t jive with humanity or love) going on in our reactionary minds.
That’s not where the love is.
As I’ve written before, the opposite of love is not hate – the opposite of love is fear.
And, from what I’ve seen, every time we try to use doctrine or ideology, or any bullshit excuse to justify living in fear of someone or something, we’re not living in a place where we can love them. We limit ourselves to ourselves. If God is supposed to be above that, how can we equate him with us and our selfish selves?
Aren’t we supposed to rise to the occasion versus make God fit our mold of constructed false comfort?
Living in love requires us to live in recognition of our own imperfections. The ego doesn’t like that. Our human, basal instincts don’t like to be wrong so we try to control it when we should be learning through it. Then we try to control what others can say or do because it helps us feel as though we have control over something that we, truly, cannot control.
The fact is, we don’t have control over others or their decisions (free will), but we do have to love them, anyway. We also don’t have control over others in how God makes them, and we have to love them anyway.
It’s the same reason that I cannot understand how one can claim a pro-life stance yet feel okay with murdering a man who was simply jogging. Not just Ahmad – but a horrific listing of human names that continually breaks my heart as it grows.
Hating someone and looking at them in any way other than being on the same plane as you – as God views us both – just makes zero sense to me. It’s not God. It’s not love.
You cannot justify the two coexisting.
You cannot live in hate, ignorance and fear and jive that with all that Jesus said. It doesn’t work. It’s one of the reasons I don’t broadcast that I have my faith system that I do because I don’t want to be lumped in with a group who have used something that is supposed to be about loving and turned it into a way to justify hate and oppression.
If you go into the old testament to find something that “justifies” your angry judgement and fear-based rhetoric (ignoring the parts that you break) it’s not love. Its self-motive rooted in fear.
That’s not my bag, baby. I really don’t want to live there.
I look around and I am mystified because Jesus was against so much that today’s “believers” seem to be for. He not only hated murder (obviously) but he also went on to condemn those who even hold anger against another. He condemned our egoist selves, saying that we weren’t to be judgmental and that we were to be kind and settle matters quickly. All of this is designed to teach us to come from love and how to really love.
You mean we have to work on liking those who are different or who may not think like us? Gasp!
He hated hypocrisy. He hated Money as God.
“You cannot serve both God and money.” Matt 6:24
Yet money is a big driver in the world of hate and ego. Are you loving others if you’re taking their livelihood for your gains? No.
The way I see it – we’re all shit, myself included. I get stuff wrong all the time. Do you know why? Because I’m human and we’re messy. No one has the answers and not one of us will always get it right. We’re straight fuck ups. We cannot fix what we don’t acknowledge.
The good news is that, while we are messy, we can learn. Learning to love means letting it get messy sometime.
And, hey, I’m not God either. I have gotten things wrong many times. I have spoken or acted from my basal ego and it’s a regular battle between the two. I’m sure I’ll do it again and again before I’m able to leave this planet. It’s part of the human experience, but I do try to do my best to operate from love. If I don’t, then I need to be loving enough to admit it and grow from it.
This is why I cannot reason with those who think hate, racism, oppression, marginalization, are all okay while proselytizing.
If your desire is to oppress, it’s not love.
If your desire is to harm for nothing more than you think you’re somehow better than your fellow human. It’s not love and you’re not better than anyone, sweetie. Even that preacher with a big following is just as fallible as anyone.
So, If you look at someone and say “yes, they should be marginalized and oppressed because they think differently than I.” Guess what? That’s not love.
“How can you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?” Matthew 7:3
“So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law of the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
(There’s that pesky golden rule again.)
Jesus desires mercy. We’re to be “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29)
We’re to love first and foremost: “Love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34
But our pesky human ego, steeped in greed and self-service, doesn’t like this. Growing in self and towards love requires us to admit we’re wrong at times and flat out terrible in others. It means that we have to put work into pushing beyond the ego to get to where the love is.
After all, it’s when we lay down ourselves (and get out of our own human constructs) that we can really love someone else.
“Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10
Most everyone that has attended a wedding in their lives have heard Paul’s letter to the Corinthians on love. Remember Paul? He was that murdering bastard once known as Saul until he was changed on the road to Damascus. Now here he was instructing on love…
(a great story that is often used to illustrate human capacity to change)
What is Love? (baby don’t hurt me… don’t hurt me… no more)
Seriously though – Paul says describes love as:
Patient and Kind.
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love isn’t proud (there’s that humility again).
Love Is not rude or self-seeking. It is not easily angered.
It keeps no records of wrongs.
Love rejoices in truth.
It hopes, protects, perseveres.
Love never fails.
Now – if God is love (1 John) – then wouldn’t the desire to walk closer to him and with him require that we follow along these same ideas? That we, too, are patient and kind? That we don’t envy or be boastful and proud or self-seeking?
Yes, that makes sense but, in practice, it’s human frailty, ego and self-serving survivalist greed that conflicts directly with that. So, we have to work at it. All the time. Every day.
Even more so when the world seems to be steeped in fear and hate and unreachable absolutes.
There are no absolutes with love. That’s mightily restrictive for something that is designed to be divine. To walk in God or proclaim to be walking in a faith aligned with the bible means that we are to be doing things with love as our motive. The love is supposed to be the driver.
It’s when we go outside of that motivation that we wreck ourselves so we, indeed, must check ourselves.
Is it love to oppress other people when you, yourself, are equally fallible? No.
This is why I cannot align racism and oppression and sexism and “us-versus-themism” with Jesus or Christianity because it doesn’t make sense. If the idea that you have – or the thought that you want to execute – is rooted in self, it’s not rooted in love.
If it’s not rooted in love, it’s not rooted in the faith you proclaim to believe in.
I know that world is absolutely terrifying right now and, for that, I’m sorry.
I wish that I could fix it, but I cannot. I cannot control those who choose to live this way. I can only control my contribution and reaction and I will do my level best to work from love, while I can, for as long as I can.
I hope we all strive to do the same.