Suppose you thought you were a devout Christian, but your whole interpretation of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ was “Those people are evil and going to hell. Everything about them is wrong. I measure my devotion to Jesus by how much revulsion I can work up toward those people.”
Imagine you really worked at that.
Imagine that the thought of those people made you ill, because that was an illness you cultivated and called it Christianity.
Imagine that you really believed that those people were in a secret conspiracy to corrupt society, ruin the economy, hurt children and take over the Vatican as part of a communist plot. You believed this because you worked at it. You read all the right periodicals and tabloids. You went to the Mass where you knew that was the sermon they’d preach. You prayed for those people, but only in a certain way. You didn’t pray to thank God for creating those people, that God’s will would be fulfilled in them, that those people would be aided in carrying their unique cross. You didn’t ask God to forgive your lack of charity and show you how you could be a good friend and Christian, to those people. You just asked God to defeat their agenda and make them sorry.
If someone confessed to you that they were one of those people, or even that they’d been nice to those people, you’d shun them and tell yourself it was for their own good. You told yourself that this was the only way to be kind to those people. You have to be cruel to be kind. You have to shun them and make them understand how disgusting they are, how their “lifestyle” stinks in the nostrils of God, how they deserve to be raped in the pit of hell for eternity. If you accepted them and were friendly, they might interpret that as tacit approval.
Every time those people did something bad, you gossiped and shared and broadcasted it as evidence of how selfish and depraved they were. Every time they did something good, you said that it was just them trying to trick everyone into embracing their agenda.
And you raised your children the same way.
You had always held that allowing those people to have any semblance of a normal life or any protection under the law was wrong, because they had to be reminded at all times how despicable they were. The very best medicine you could give them was suffering, because if they suffered enough humiliation and shame, they might come to hate themselves as much as you hated them. And then they might change. They’d never be like you. They’d always be those people and not the right kind of people. But if those people were constantly, visibly struggling with self-loathing and talking about how disgusting they were, if they hated themselves as much as you hated them, if they always confirmed your notions about their old “agenda” and what their “lifestyle” had been like, you would tolerate them, from a distance.
Now, let’s say that the Pope, of all illustrious persons, said that was wrong.
He didn’t say the rules on marriage and sexual morality had changed. He didn’t say that certain acts long considered wrong were suddenly okay. He didn’t say the Catholic sacrament of holy matrimony was no longer exclusively between a man and a woman who are open to children. He just said that those people should be allowed to have civil unions and some basic protections under the law, because they’re people. He said they deserved to be part of a family. No one should be thrown out or made miserable. Those people are children of God.
Let’s say that your reaction to this statement was to be angry and feel betrayed. The Pope was clearly wrong, and worse than wrong. He was one of those people or their sympathizers, a traitor and a fake. Because it was your whole understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ that those people were going to hell as punishment and you were not. You, a different sort of human being, were going to Heaven, for not being the wrong kind of person. They deserved nothing good and you did.
If that’s your religion and that’s how you feel today… was your faith ever really in Jesus Christ?
Or was it all in your hatred for those people?
Are you really acting as a Christian?
And are you ready to repent?
Image via Pixabay.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross.
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