Setting the Spirit Free
by Lori Heine

People following the current news about American Christianity are understandably confused.  They’ve probably always thought of freedom as a good thing.  Lately, they could be forgiven for getting the impression that it was nasty and spiteful.

In the positive sense, freedom is about doing what we want to do.  If we are people of faith, it is also about doing what we believe we should be doing.  And if we are Christians, it specifically entails doing what Jesus taught us—both by word and by example.

I have read the Gospels many times.  Never, anywhere in them, do I remember seeing a thing about Jesus humiliating people and refusing to serve them.  Not even if He thought that they were “sinners.”  But especially not if they loved Him and sincerely wanted to serve Him.

What on earth is going on with the current Religious Right crusade for “religious freedom?” Who is this person named Jesus they claim to serve? And what Bible are they reading? Certainly not the one with which I’m familiar.

I suppose that in the negative sense, freedom can certainly be understood as not having to do what we don’t want to.  For Christians, that would logically mean not having to do things Christ wouldn’t want us to do.  But as Jesus isn’t recorded as having uttered one word against “homosexuality,” those who insist that they must be free not to serve same-sex couples can’t honestly maintain that they got their marching orders from Him.

As a lesbian Christian, I’ve noticed a couple of things about this controversy that seem to have escaped the media opinion-shapers.  First of all, that the people most willing to let anti-gay Christians have the last word on the same-sex marriage issue are mostly people who are not Christians.  Not only that, but that many of them express nothing but hostility toward the Christian faith.

Excuse me, but that is just weird.  In other words, the people most likely to agree that anti-gay Christians are just doing what Christians ought to do in condemning “homosexuality” are self-proclaimed enemies of the faith.  What is up with that? And why are these “good Christians” so okay with it?

The enemies of our faith—those who laugh at it, and think it’s silly—think that anti-gay Christians are the real Christians.  Do the foes of same-sex marriage simply fail to realize this? Has it somehow escaped their notice? Or are they simply hoping nobody else will notice or care?

More to the point, do they realize that the reason the enemies of the Christian faith are so willing to let them be its spokespeople is that they want to discredit it, and if possible destroy it?

Make no mistake about it, Christianity has a real P.R. problem in the United States today.  Young people, especially, are leaving it in droves.  The hateful way so many of our faith’s loudest representatives are treating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is cited, by many, as one of the main reasons why.  I always understood our mission, as disciples of Jesus, as attracting as many people as possible to the faith.  I missed the part where He told us to drive them away.

Those on the Religious Right are always babbling about the Antichrist.  At first glance, one might get the impression that this was because they opposed it.  On closer inspection, it very much appears that on the contrary, they serve it.

They’d need to get up pretty early in the morning to do more damage to the Gospel than they have.  Now they’re hell-bent on spreading the message that God hates nothing more than people loving the “wrong” people.  And that humiliating them and refusing to serve them brings God His greatest joy.

Again, that’s weird.  No matter what the foes of LGBT rights want to claim, unless God’s character has completely changed in the last two thousand years, the Holy Spirit thinks it’s weird, too. 

I take heart from the fact that a growing number of Christians disagree with their anti-gay brethren.  And that they are rising up to force a debate on what, for believers in Christ, religious freedom really ought to mean.  Though some will bewail this as “divisive,” it is necessary to clarify the issue.  It may even be necessary to save the Body of Christ.

Though they very much behave as if they wish to hold the Holy Spirit captive to their agenda (and make no mistake about it, they are the ones who have one), anti-gay Christians have forced a showdown that will result in setting the Holy Spirit free.  This is, after all, still God’s Church.  The Body belongs not to bigots, but to Christ.

I have immense faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.  I believe in Jesus’s promise that the gates of Hell will never prevail against His Church, so I’m not worried.  As Dr. King put it, I’m not “fearing any man.”  Mine eyes have seen the glory.  I fully believe that one day soon, the Holy Spirit will be free at last.      


© 2015 Lori Heine

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