The Pharisee's Worst Nightmare
by Lori Heine
Opponents of LGBT inclusion in the Church keep saying that they want “a conversation about morality.” Too many of us shrink from that challenge. But what if we really gave them one?
By conversation, I mean not a monologue, but a dialogue. In other words, a real conversation, instead of the mummery our modern-day Pharisees have been staging for too many years. I’m convinced that in a genuine dialogue about Christian morality—what it really is, and what it really isn’t—we would fare very well.
We would, as a matter of fact, fare far better than would the Pharisees. Which is exactly why they hope we won’t take them up on their challenge. They wouldn’t keep issuing it if they thought there was any chance we’d actually accept it. In their strut and bluster about what great lions of God they supposedly are, the only lion they remind me of is Bert Lahr, in The Wizard of Oz. “Put ‘em up,” they sneer, through their lion movie-makeup, “C’mon, put em up!”
The American evangelicals want to keep from becoming more widely known just how far they were willing to take their “moral” crusade. They pressured the Ugandan government to pass laws so harsh that gay people could actually be put to death—simply for being gay. Though that version of the law didn't pass, that the portion that was enacted is as cruel and draconian as it is can be traced to the influence of people highly trusted, in this country, as spiritual leaders.
I don’t believe most heterosexual evangelicals are even aware of what really went on. Their fearless leaders have pretty well covered their tails, and of course they backed away from actually trying to murder gays—once word got out to the American public and pressure was applied to soften the legislation. Not that being thrown into prison simply for being gay is really a much softer fate, for those who face it, than being killed.
Of course the Pharisees are dangling a new, shiny object to distract us. They're trying to start a religious war. Displaying the absolute epitome of gall, they've attempted to manufacture a new persecution, in which “all” LGBT people are, supposedly, trying to destroy “all” Christians.
Enough is enough. We can certainly hold our own in any debate, on Christian morality, against opponents who—if given the chance—would very literally be killers. Even the sizeable number who would have nothing to do with such savagery routinely support, as their highest “Christian” value, the shaming and exclusion of others. Witness their shiny new crusade for “religious liberty”—in which, evidently, the highest Gospel value is the right to discriminate against certain specially-selected “sinners.”
In His earthly life, Jesus stood up bravely against the Pharisees. Who really did try to kill Him—and eventually succeeded. He was their worst nightmare. This was largely because He made it clear what God truly loves and hates. That real sin is what causes misery to our fellow human beings, and that real love always gladdens God’s heart.
If we are to truly follow in Christ’s footsteps, then we must be the worst nightmare of the Pharisees of today. The task will be anything but easy, because though they are as phony as the Cowardly Lion of Oz, they’re capable of all the scary pyrotechnics of the Wizard. It’s high time we yanked away that curtain—and revealed to the world what’s really behind it.
© 2014 Lori Heine
Photo: Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 MGM film "The Wizard of Oz".
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