Confession of a Christian in the United States

Flickr photo: smokingloon

Originally posted on 01.24.13 on reyes-chow.com.

As I scanned my newsfeed this morning, I had another one of those, “No duh, Bruce.” moments.

Yes, I am a Christian.

Yes, I am a citizen of the United States of America.

As a Christian – I believe that we must love and serve one another: the stranger, the enemy, the prisoner, the poor, the outcast, the hungry and the oppressed. And while often falling short, I strive to live this daily – even to the detriment of my own wealth, comfort and station.

As a US Citizen – I believe that each of us has been “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” – even if this belief gives people the right to make choices that are not always in their best interest.

Add this one in the “easy to say, hard to do” file.

Reading story after opinion after post, each tackling important questions around mental health, war, immigration, gun control, abortion, marriage equality or healthcare, I was again reminded that I must hold in tension the commitment to live my Christian faith with the responsibility of being a citizen of the United States of America.

Like I said, “No duh, Bruce.”

This is not a comfortable or simple tension to hold and it would be much much much easier to compartmentalize my world pretending as if the two are always in state of blissful alignment and never in direct conflict. But with our country’s ideologically discourse seemingly at a constant boil, as we debate such complex and passionate issues, it is never a bad idea to remind myself – Bruce, you are first a citizen of the Body of Christ and then a citizen of the United States of America.

When such difficult questions before us as a country, I must constantly commit to being a Christian who happens to be an American and not the other way around. For if I confuse the two, my independent American sensibilities and the pursuit of my own individual rights will too often result in just the opposite being inflicted up those whom my Christian faith calls me to love and serve. If my citizenship trumps my faith, the pursuit of my own life, liberty and happiness will lead directly and indirectly to the death, oppression and despair for the stranger, the enemy, the prisoner, the poor, the outcast, the hungry and the oppressed.

Does this mean that I want the United States to become a theocracy governed by a less than unanimous understanding of the Christian faith, of course not. And are there times when my faith and citizenship align, sure.  The big takeaway for this Christian, who cherishes the opportunities to dialogue about the politics and policies of our country, is that I must be open to solutions to complex issues that might indeed infringe upon my own independence and personal gain so others may thrive. For in the end, our life does not belong to the United States of America, in life and in death, we belong to God.

Woe to me if I confuse the two.

Gay AND Christian . . . Welcome!

So very excited about a new blog that Kimberly Knight is hosting as part of the Progressive Christian Channel on Patheos called Coming Out Christian. I don’t know Kimberly really well, but I do know her to be a thoughtful, passionate and strong voice in conversations about justice, technology and faith in Jesus Christ. I can think of few people who would be better at gathering people together for meaningful conversations about being gay and Christian in the United States.

This snippet from Kimberly’s introductory post is simply beautiful . . .

This blog is a place where real people with beating hearts and quick minds can gather to explore what for many people seems a paradox but for me has never a source of conflict – being gay and Christian in America.  And guess what?  As it turns out, there are as many ways this unfolds as there are ways of being not-gay and Christian in America.

What I know to be true is that debates do not change hearts and minds, people do, people and their stories.  As you get to know the people who share their stories here I hope you will hold an open place in your heart just as Christ holds for you.

And as strong-willed and gracious as Kimberly may be, I also know that this is a bold step, because, as many of us know these two parts of a person’s life – gay and Christian – have been seen and experienced as mutually exclusive if not hostile towards one another. Kimberly and anyone who participates in this conversation are taking a big risk by putting their voices out there knowing that there will be, if not already, verbal violence directed towards this space.

For those who do decide to make their voices known, I know that it will be worth the risk. There will be people sojourning along, for good reason/s never commenting or participating directly, but gaining strength of spirit to know that there are others who are doing so on their behalf. Some of us blog to make a living, others to share our passions, but it is a blog like this that will save people: their spirits and their lives.

Welcome Kimberly and all who will enter this holy space.


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