My Neighbor’s Oppression

The Good Samaritan

In the past several weeks, I’ve received countless articles, emails, petitions, and Facebook messages regarding anti-gay extremists in RussiaNigeria, and Uganda who have been torturing and publicly killing LGBT individuals, sometimes while video taping it. And they face no consequences.  It is illegal in some of these countries to even acknowledge someone is LGBT without turning them into the authorities.  It is a criminal act to counsel them (even as doctors would do with AIDS patients), or even to provide housing to them.  And over 80 countries join these in criminalizing being gay.

Horrific as this is, sometimes, I confess, I have wondered why my LGBT Christian friends are more outraged over global LGBT oppression than about global Christian oppression.  After all, Christians don’t seem to be doing any better for themselves globally than LGBT people.  Thousands of Christians around the world are tortured and killed for their faith every day.  In over 40 nations today, Christians are being persecuted.  Many are facing imprisonment, harassment, torture, and death.  It is illegal to own a Bible, to share your faith, to teach your children about Jesus.

I suppose it’s possible that, much like their straight counterparts, some LGBT folks simply don’t know about global Christian oppression, or they just haven’t taken time to educate themselves or care.

But I think something else is at play too.

While LGBT folks might sometimes be guilty of ignoring Christian oppression, it seems that straight Christians do LGBT folks one worse. Rather than merely ignoring LGBT oppression, Christians sometimes fund it.  It’s not a conspiracy.  It’s a fact.  On the basis of protecting traditional family values, many evangelical Christians are spending tithe dollars to support legislative efforts that contribute towards oppression, imprisonment, and killing of LGBT people.  And churches aren’t talking about it.

We wonder why LGBT people feel oppressed.
We wonder why LGBT people feel Christians hate them.

We pay for legislation to imprison and murder them in the name of Christian morals, and then we wonder what all the fuss is about when they get upset.

Arguments over who is most oppressed or which oppression is the most terrible are not only useless, they are destructive.  When we spend our efforts vying for position as the most terribly oppressed group, we invalidate the violations of the ‘other’ in order to elevate our own pain.  And in doing so, we unintentionally become oppressors ourselves.  Oppression of every type causes God to grieve.  And it should cause us to as well.  We must mourn, not just for the injustices done to populations we find ourselves a part of, but even for those we do not.  

It’s not just LGBT oppression or Christian oppression which should concern us.  We should be troubled enough to advocate for those oppressed in a variety of ways – victims of human trafficking, poverty, genocide, violence and abuse, those without homes, those experiencing racial injustices, and those suffering the consequences of religious conflicts which marginalize people of all faiths and non-faith.  The Parable of the Good Samaritan should have taught us a long while ago that we are called to be concerned for all who are suffering, whether or not those groups happen to be like us.  I dream of a day when we all might find a way to concern ourselves more fully with our neighbor’s sufferings than with our own, because that’s the day when all oppression would cease.

Artist Derek Webb mournfully sings in his song, “This Too Shall Be Made Right” some truly perfect words that challenge our callousness towards the suffering and oppression of ‘the other’.  I’ll give him the last word today, and pray that it shakes us all into action towards solving the oppressions of not just our own groups, but of those we consider ‘other’ as well.

“I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door.
I join the oppressors of those who I choose to ignore.
I’m trading comfort for human life,
and that’s not just murder it’s suicide.
And this too shall be made right.”

 

*This post is co-published at Heidi’s Patheos blog, Questianity.

Living Judgment-Free: Christy Wade of LOVEboldly

christy

 

Recently, Natalie Cunningham from Bourbon & Beans interviewed me for a guest spot on her blog. Bourbon & Beans is a “sassy and savvy marketing collaborative” that seeks to provide customized planning, marketing, and design services to small businesses/entrepreneurs and non-profit clients – especially those with environmental and social concepts in their mission.”

 

Check the interview out at: Living Judgment-Free: Christy Wade of LOVEboldly

Monday Musings: Community & Seeing Christ in the ‘Other’

This week’s Monday Musing’s are going to be other’s thoughts, not my own, that I find worthy of further pondering.  The quotes are from things I am currently reading that deal with topics of reconciliation, community, truth, etc.  I hope you enjoy!

Living Into Community: Christine Pohl

  • “The character of our shared life – as congregations, communities, and families – has the power to draw people to the kingdom or to push them away.  How we live together is the most persuasive sermon we’ll ever get to preach.”
  • “While we might want community, it is often community on our terms, with easy entrances and exits, lots of choice and support, and minimal responsibilities.  Mixed together, this is not a promising recipe for strong or lasting communities.”
  • “Community life certainly has moments of incredible beauty and intense personal connection, but much of it is daily and ordinary.”

Uncommon Decency: Richard Mouw

  • “When we approach others in a civil manner, we must listen carefully to them.  Even when we strongly disagree with their basic perspectives, we must be open to the possibility that they will help us discern the truth more clearly.  Being a civil Christian means being open to God’s surprises.”
  • I must confess, I absolutely, positively adore this analogy.  Mouw captures this beautifully:
    “Developing the spiritual sensitivities necessary for civility is a lot like learning art appreciation.  And we know that in the aesthetic realm the reason why the requisite sensitivities do not come easily for most of us is due in part to the fact…that we have not studied the subject enough.  Often we don’t even know what to look for – or at – in trying to understand and appreciate a work of art.  We have to learn how to study such things.  The same kind of thing holds for civility.  If we are going to be people who approach others with empathy and teachability, we need to learn how to study other people spiritually.”
  • “When we genuinely see the ways that the divine image is desecrated in the lives of those who are oppressed by poverty, injustice, disease and violence, we are also cultivating a more general ability to discern where that image is present under less brutal conditions.”

I think that’s enough to leave you all with for this week.  Afterall, I’ve been ruminating on most of that for over three weeks now.  What do you think?  Comments, questions, reflections, reactions?