The Problem With Hobby Lobby

You’re sick of hearing about it.  I am too.  Every other post in my Facebook newsfeed is about Hobby Lobby.  I’ve read numerous passionate, intelligent, rational arguments from both sides.  I’ve also read numerous mud-slinging, name-calling temper tantrums, also from both sides.

I’m not too interested in talking about the politics of it all… the pros and cons… what it means for businesses… what it means for religious freedom… what it means for women’s rights.  I’m aware of the facts, and I’ve drawn my own conclusions.

What bothers me about the whole debacle with Hobby Lobby is the same thing that bothered me about Duck Dynasty, and Chick-Fil-A, and World Vision.  As succinctly as I can put it:

They’re making Christianity look really bad.

This is the new face of Christianity, folks.  Litigious, grand-standing bullies.  People (and businesses) who place being “right” above all else.  People who put religion ahead of relationships. People who can no longer see the forest of individuals through their trees of self-righteousness.

“YAY, Hobby Lobby!” pro-life people posted, either ignoring or unaware of the fact that Hobby Lobby does much of their business with China, which has a VERY high rate of (often coerced) abortions, deplorable labor conditions, and denies religious freedoms to millions.  And the only reason I know this about them is that it’s all over the news.  Because they made all of this public. Because they opened themselves up to scrutiny and judgment.  Because they followed the path of being bigger, bolder, and louder.  That’ll show ’em!

But what is it showing everyone exactly?  That they’re hypocrites?  I’m not singling Hobby Lobby out on this either, as I’m sure that most (every?) business and individual alike has some hypocritical skeletons hiding in their closet.  We’re all human, doing the best we can.  But if as Christians we’re to stand firm in representing Christ’s love, we’ve gotten way, way off course.

The Christianity that is making headlines today is just about as far from Christ’s love as you can get.

Hypocrisy

Intolerance

Bigotry

Judgment

Arrogance

These are the things that mainstream Christianity seems to be rallying around these days.  Is it really any wonder that so many run when they hear the label, “Christian”?

I’m tired of these people being the spokespeople for something that, at its very core, is supposed to be about love.  I’m tired of people being turned off again and again (and AGAIN) by these negative stories in the news, people drawing conclusions about Christians based on the actions of a few, people whose only exposure to Christianity is another hypocritical corporation taking its case all the way to the Supreme Court to make a point.

What I ferventlhy wish is that everyone would do a little less screaming, “WE ARE CHRISTIANS; You MUST listen to us!”   and a little more living John 13:34-35:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

 

In Which I Reject the Label of Christian

In the past few weeks, no less than four people have told me that I can’t possibly exist.  Not even that I “can’t” exist, now that I think about it, but that I DON’T exist.

Wait, what?

Yes.  Despite mounting evidence to the contrary (surely if I were a mere illusion, I would have less cellulite), it is widely believed that I – and people like me – are, at the very best, an aberration…. some strange fluke of nature that should either be ignored or loudly chastised, but most certainly never taken seriously.

I am a Christian, but because there seems to be some confusion surrounding that term lately, let me elaborate.   I am a Christian because I’ve committed my life to God, because I’m crazy in love with Jesus Christ, and because I so genuinely want to follow his teachings.  Because I believe in a full, radical, all-in, balls-to-the-wall, pursuit of His love, His grace, and His faithfulness.

But I’m told I’m not really a Christian.

A true Christian can’t have my political leanings.  A true Christian can’t be an advocate of gay rights.  A true Christian can’t interpret the Bible that way (the wrong way, of course).  A true Christian can’t [fill in the blank with your favorite narrow-minded generalization, because at this point I’ve heard them all]

Here’s the thing.  A true Christian absolutely can  do all of those things, because I’m doing them.  I get that it makes other Christians uncomfortable and scared and freaked out and sometimes downright mean as a result …. but that doesn’t stop it from being true.   This is my path.  For whatever reason, this is the way that I was made.   Uniquely,  individually, “fearfully and wonderfully” made by the creator Himself.

And while I fully admit to weak moments of anger, moments of indignation (“Who made them the judge and jury on who is and is not a Christian?  How DARE they presume to tell me that I’m not really a Christian, just because my Christianity doesn’t look like their Christianity”), I know in my heart of hearts that defensiveness is not the answer.  I know that my self-righteousness is nothing more than cloaking myself in a pot in response to their proverbial kettle.

Still, this issue persists, and I can’t seem to figure out if I’m just now noticing it, or if that representation of “Christianity” really is getting bigger (or at least louder).  The ones that are casting everyone else to hell.  The ones that are telling us all how we’re getting it all wrong.  The ones that are all worked up over postage stamps and gay wedding cakes and their soapbox defense of a crass, bearded duck caller.   The ones that would willingly let tens of thousands of impoverished kids go hungry in order to prove a point.

The ones that are telling me, again and again, through both actions and words, “You are not a true Christian.”

Well you know what?  Their definition of Christian is clearly different than mine.  I can’t be sure of much, but this much is true.   If being bigger and louder and more obnoxiously exclusive and reactionary is Christianity, then I want no part of it.  If being RIGHT is more important than being loving, then count me out.

Because from where I’m sitting, being loving IS the right answer, no matter the question.

I don’t want to fight anymore.  I don’t want to be angry anymore. If it’s that important to you to claim that the title of Christian rightfully belongs to you and no one else, you can have it. Seriously.  If this…. this… CIRCUS is what people think of when they think of Christianity, I will gladly concede.  The label is of no importance to me.  What’s important to me is what I believe, how I conduct myself, how I love others.   Getting upset and splitting hairs over what constitutes a “true Christian” just isn’t worth it, and frankly, is a whole lot of wasted time at a time when we haven’t got a moment to spare.

Showing God’s love

Feeding the poor

Aiding the sick

Comforting the suffering

Speaking out for grace, and peace, and love, and forgiveness….

That’s what matters.  That’s what’s worth fighting for.  That, and the people who do it……. no matter what you choose to call them.