The passing of this last week has arrived with no absence of political, religious, or social controversy. Even the casual follower of news knows of at least the two greatly controversial, but highly monumental moments in American history. In the course of just under a week the flag representing a dying subculture of the Confederates is called out for removal, while a different flag representing an emerging subculture of the homosexual community rises into the acceptance of American Judicial Law. In both instances, as a self-proclaimed Christian and casual church attendee, I see potential for a person outside of either of these subcultures to be easily convinced of the toleration for a passing judgment causing a deeper divide. This divide, while driven by the roots of our beliefs, will give reason to those that do not buy in to your chosen faith, and ultimately pushing them away from the faith that you’re teaching. The marriage equality ruling will be the needle that lays the deepest divide among this country, and I urge everyone to avoid the side of hatred. As a persevered follower of Jesus Christ, I have a difficult time listening to the featured opinions of most American Christians on this matter with a straight face.
As a disciple of Christ we are called to love one another as ourself (James 2:8), so is it appropriate to pass judgment upon those that associate themselves with a flag that we do not agree with? Whether or not the flag represents segregation and hatred, or freedom and love we should not lose focus that what matters most are the people behind the flag. Without a flag to congregate groups of people behind specific ideologies we would merely have one collective group called the human race. With that established theory, Jesus did not come to Earth just to save the Americans, or the Israelites, or Republicans; He came here to share His love with everyone.
I try to live my life each day using Jesus as an example so that my reaction and perspective toward things are as Christ-like as my broken mind can accomplish. One key component of the teachings of Jesus that I always keep in sight is that there are no predetermined entitlements to God’s Love. He has no prerequisite for His acceptance, no requirement for Grace, no rules to the Kingdom of God other than to believe in Him and to steer your life on Earth with Love. Who are we, as Christians, to judge those that we feel are falling short of the teachings of God? Aren’t there a dozen or so different versions of Christianity? How am I to be certain that what I believe is superior to what you believe? How are you sure that the way you interpret the Bible is more true than the way I interpret it? My point is that the only absolute interpretation of the Word of God is Love. Without it we have no foundation for our beliefs and the religion we claim becomes unproductive. It goes on to show that it is more of a choice to judge someone for being homosexual than it is to be homosexual, and yet we continue to judge them and not ourselves. Jesus taught several times when He was on Earth about the cautions of passing judgment (Luke 6:41-42, John 8:7). He would suggest judgment by us to only be passed after we have removed all reason for judgment within ourselves. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, thus critical thinking skills suggest that no one is capable of casting that first stone. We must be mindful of our actions as a Christian community to alleviate any repercussions of the hatred and suggested segregation that come with such a quick and broad stroke of passed judgment.
A nation founded on freedom should also not be so quick to draw a line in the sand between those in which the law pertains to and to those that it does not. To deny any group certain rights that is otherwise available moves momentum towards the acceptance of segregation, and ultimately a version of a modern-day American caste system. Within the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s our government radically changed its judicial perspective toward the African-American community through the 13th and 14th amendments granting them equal protection within the law through the confines of liberty. At what point can our nation decide who is NOT eligible for liberty? A fleeting rebel group of British soldiers just a few hundred years ago fought for equality and freedom under a law that protects from this very type of persecution. In order to uphold original intent of our politics we must not continue to embrace hatred toward people that are viewed to be different.
It must be understood that without a changing heart, without a loving embrace, future generations will view the American flag in similar distaste as the Confederate flag is today. Similar theories could be said for the Christian flag. If the Christian community does not react with love, but instead with hatred, judgment, and condemnation then it too will be viewed as a symbol of separation. To be a Christ following American patriot we must keep our faith and our politics separate. We cannot dictate our politics through our religion, or vice versa. If the overlap between politics and religion continue to eclipse then the social separation between those that are in need of God’s love and those that claim to be of God’s love will continue to grow.