I have friends who believe that theology doesn’t matter, and while I respect where some of them are coming from, I can’t agree with them. Of course, on the one hand they are right; theology is NOT of utmost importance. Meaning, our theology is not our identity. But on the other hand, whatever we believe about God matters in how we actually live our lives.
As you’ve probably heard me talk about over and over ad nauseum, we are mimetic beings. We are imitative. We pick up on the desires of others and then share in those desires. This is true of our gods and god-concepts as well. Whatever our god wants, we want.
If our god is sacrificial, we endorse sacrifice.
If our god is retributive, our justice is retributive.
If our god is a god of war, we endorse war.
If our god disapproves of gay people, we disapprove of gay people.
If our god banishes others to hell in the afterlife, we do the same in this one.
Recently, our family has shown my wife and I how true this is. When I came out bisexual, some of them wanted nothing to do with us. It’s been over a month now, and a few of them have yet to talk to us. Some have even left horrible voicemails, accusing me of cheating on my wife with multiple partners. The kicker? Both Jesus and the Bible are on their side. “The Word of God is clear,” they’ve said.
Now, you and I both know that it’s not clear at all. There is not one single passage that anyone could even misconstrue in order to argue against someone’s sexual orientation. One could misconstrue perhaps seven or so passages to argue against having “gay sex,” but someone’s orientation? There is nothing there.
And yet, to our family, not only is it clear there is, it’s clear that their response is to shun. To denounce and then shun. Shun me. Shun my wife and, by extension, our daughter. All of us.
Because that’s what God wants. That’s what Jesus wants. Right now, Jesus is sitting at the Father’s right hand, applauding their heroism. He’s got his Gorilla Glue out and is about to attach some more jewels to their well-earned crowns. Why? Because their Jesus is just like them.
Their Jesus is sacrificial.
Their Jesus is retributive.
Their Jesus approves of war.
Their Jesus disapproves of gay people.
Their Jesus banishes people to hell.
Again, it’s all mimetic.
“Follow me,” says whichever Jesus you already believe in.
This is why theology matters. Bad theology kills, as my friend Kevin Garcia says. But good theology – otherwise known as divine anthropology – brings life.
Bad theology shuns, but good theology includes.
Bad theology shames, but good theology celebrates.
Bad theology destroys, but good theology uplifts.
Bad theology serves rotten fruit, but good theology brings in a bountiful harvest.
So keep this in mind before you dismiss the importance of theology. Our theology could be a matter of life and death, either literally, spiritually, or relationally.
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