Last Friday marked an historic date for the U.S. Even more historic, and unprecedented, might have been the vitriolic reactions across the various social media platforms. This all came on the heels of the Charleston, South Carolina, shooting and subsequent dispute regarding the Confederate flag. Consequently, with the two combined events, we reached a level of social media expression never before experienced in the 21st century. I can only expect the future holds an even greater magnitude of reaction for forthcoming events.
I will say that the social media outrage of America was something I began to take notice of during my 5+ years of living in Belgium. During the elections of 2012, I could not believe the explosion that took place, especially from my conservative friends following the re-election of Barack Obama. However, I can only imagine the same would have taken place amongst the liberal left had Mitt Romney been elected. I truly believe the American social media reaction is unlike anything anywhere else.
In regards to the decision handed down by the Supreme Court last Friday, declaring that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, I have my thoughts on that decision and the ramifications to follow. But I’ll hold them for the time being.
I’m, of course, aware that many, from both sides, would love for each and every one of us to “show our cards.” Tell me, where do you stand on the issue? However, many also want to know where you stand in order to mark you out as good or bad, right or wrong, on “my side” or the “other side.” We are obsessed with defining ourselves and our relationships by who and what we are against. From my perspective, this is a harmful practice that destroys any opportunity for authentic relationship.
While I won’t “show my hand” for the time being, let me share what I do see here. It’s been increasing for a few decades now, but has specifically multiplied in recent years with the help of social media.
American culture has bowed, given their all, and pledged allegiance to the idol of sexuality and sexual identity.
Whether on the right or left, conservative or liberal, Christian or not, straight or gay – both sides have surrendered to this towering idol of our day and age. And, boy, do we love this idol with all heart, soul, mind, and strength.
You see, we have forgotten that human identity runs beyond sexual identity. Much, much deeper. For the Christian, from both sides, we have forgotten that the image of God is rooted deeper than sexual orientation. The imago Dei paints a much more holistic picture of who we are as human beings.
Sure, we can get into the account of the early chapters of Genesis. And then we can travel the path of Scripture to work through the finer details regarding our sexuality as humans. I am happy with that. That’s what we need to do.
But once we become obsessed with one facet of our humanity, we will easily swerve off track. And I believe that is exactly what has happened here. We really can’t see past this one issue right now. We cannot appreciate and celebrate what it truly means to be human, from our relational nature to our creativeness to our physical uniqueness to our relation to creation to the greatness of our cerebral capacities to all the other aspects. We are simply stuck in worship of this one idol we’ve crafted.
Heterosexual conservatives are so caught up in their heterosexuality as the Christian marker that authentic questions are not allowed, faithful dialogue is turned away, and extra mouths and fingers seem to grow overnight in order to keep up the pace in defending God.
Gay and lesbian liberals are so caught up in the freedom of their homosexuality that genuine conversation is also not allowed, ears are plugged tightly, and all rational oration is lost in the matter of a few seconds.
True, one group feels discarded, even oppressed, believing they’ve never held to the privilege of the other. Yes, one group feels they are losing their grasp on a golden era that once was. But there is one thing in common. While coming from opposite directions, both groups are forming a similar mantra of worship.
All hail the idol of sexuality. We honor you above all. We bow in adoration of you who has established our great identity. We dress in our robes, bring forth our song, and join in the chorus of the modern-day revolution.
We can’t see the forest from the trees.
My heart swells with compassion towards the LGBT community. It does. I understand, at least in some way, though not fully, that there is a deep-seated sense of oppression that has lasted for so long. You can only ostracize a group of people so much before they crack and react in some way. Our African-American friends can help us understand that.
To the conservatives, I know you feel pressured in to something you don’t agree with, like the wool was pulled over your eyes when you weren’t looking. I know your honorable intentions, desiring that Christ be a reality amongst American society. One view on how our sexuality should be lived has led to a particular reaction, which is now leading to your own reaction today.
But wherever we stand on the issues, we must recognize we have built our own golden calf, one we love to hold, stroke, polish, and put on display. Both sides have done this – right and left, conservative and liberal, Christian and non-Christian, straight and gay. And I believe we will never move forward if we fail to end the obsession that believes our humanity is predominately wrapped up in our sexuality.
The problem is we have also accepted that power and manipulation provide the best path for getting our way. Again, this is true of both sides – right and left, conservative and liberal, Christian and non-Christian, straight and gay.
And, so, love actually never wins in these situations. #loveneverwinsthisway
By love, I don’t mean a light, fluffy sentimental feeling that many have posted about over the past few days. I cringe when I see posts that say something like, “Can’t we all just love one another,” or “Where’s the love?”
Rather, the love I speak of is a bleed-your-life-out-in-self-sacrifice love.
I’d put a picture here of Christ hung on cross, but it wouldn’t mean much. We’re so numb to it. And it’s not the great example of capital punishment today. That would be the electric chair. But Christ on the cross is the great expression of authentic love. In it there is no hint of manipulation, power, or self-entitlement. The crucifixion is the complete picture of setting aside self while enduring the mock, abhorrence, and destruction from others.
All the while a soft pronouncement rises from the lips of the crucified one: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
What do we do with this good and right expression of love?
If we’ll reflect upon it, we might just encounter something that deepens our view of humanity.
When we all bow to idols – of sexuality or power or greed – love never wins. It can’t. It won’t. Yet, when we gaze at the self-sacrifice of Jesus, we see an enactment of blood-colored love. And then hope finds a place to rise and remind us that, in this one act, love actually wins.