AROUND 2 a.m. last Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida, 29-year-old Omar Mateen went inside the Pulse nightclub (a known gay bar) and shot and killed 49 people. He reportedly called 911 during the attack to pledge his allegiance to Isis.
In an interview with his father, the elder Mateen recalls an earlier incident when his son became so enraged after seeing two men kiss in front of his wife and child, but he had no idea that it would come to this.
Most of the mainstream Christian articles I read called for prayers, mourning, and respect for the LGBT. They highlighted their concern for the well-being of the people of Orlando. They called for help and counselling to the survivors as well as to the family members of the deceased. I saw the hashtag #PrayForOrlando on several of my friends’ walls.
There were a number of responses though that were on the opposite end of the spectrum, like these ones:
1. Florida gay pulse club attacked. I’m so happy someone decided to shoot perverts instead of innocent people.
2. The only good thing about the Orlando shooting is that it was a gay club. So less gays in the world today.
3. I wake up to some dude shooting up a gay nightclub. Isn’t that weird. Homosexuality is condemned by God so that’s why he let that happen, people.
4. God opened his armory to deal with proud fag America.
5. That is the right target for such shootings. Gays should be shot for disrespecting the natural order.
6. Ok...at least it was only gays. Not like they add anything to mankind: Except disease -- a bit of non-story, really.
7. The shooter is my hero. The cops should be sued for killing a hero who was doing social justice. I mean, since 80 percent of Americans no longer have brains to know that homosexuality is a great sin against God and every natural human law. Let those who know please buy guns and kill off any gay, lesbian, transgender and their likes, including Bruce Jenner or whatever he calls himself now...FYI I am a Christian, not a Muslim and my religion strongly condemns any act of homosexuality.
8. Why should I pray for Orlando? In the first place, Orlando rejected God. They had it coming.
9. This was God’s hand, and he will pluck them away one by one. I have no judgement in what others do but God does.
10. It seems that so many Christians today are sympathizing with the sodomites who were destroyed in this nightclub shooting, in this terror attack. Why would we sympathize with, or feel bad for them? Well, frankly, I’m not sad about it at all.I don’t condone violence, I never have… but I’m not going to sit here and cry about it and say it’s a tragedy, because it’s not.
From the outside looking in, it is easy to condemn these people for being judgmental and hypocritical to the Christian values of love and forgiveness they so espouse. However, my experience in the inside also allows me some insight into this kind of thinking. The Bible -- the supposed inspired Word of God -- after all condemns homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments.
These people are trying to be “right” in God’s eyes by showing they approve of what he wrote and said (or at least, what they believe he said) -- never mind that it’s unpopular or that they would be seen as unkind -- what is important is that they remain faithful to the Word. And yet, here is Jesus, telling them to love the unlovable -- the least of the people.
Oh how difficult it was for me to be a Christian, to never know where the boundaries lie, to resolve the many contradictions that hound this or that doctrine.
And yet now that I have left Christianity, I think I have a better idea on how to be a good Christian. Distancing oneself tends to put a fresh perspective on how you see things.
Christians can be better Christians if they always err on the side of kindness and compassion. Gandhi could not have said it better when he proclaimed, “I like your Christ, but I do not like you Christians,” because he saw through the pompousness and self-righteous posturing that many do in the name of Christ.
After all, Jesus was often depicted as hanging out with common people, even drunks, taxpayers and whores. He ignored regulations and healed people on the Sabbath. He ignored social conventions and talked to the Samaritan woman, and even refused to condemn the woman others wanted to stone for her sin of adultery.
If you were to just look at these examples of how he lived his life and how he treated others, you would understand that being a true follower of Christ doesn’t mean that you follow every stroke of the law, or that you know your doctrine like the back of your hand, but that you are able to transcend these and see the greater value of compassion, love and acceptance.
Frank Schaeffer, son of a well-known protestant minister and author, Francis Schaeffer, wrote a book called Why I Am An Atheist Who Believes in God. In the fourth chapter, he shares a little bit about his parents: “Dad and Mom had a lesbian couple living in our chalet for several years in the early 1970s. One was Dad’s secretary, the other Mom’s helper. They shared a room. Fortunately, my parents were hypocritical and acted as if, no matter their official religious absolutes, the higher call was to ignore what the Bible said in favor of what they hoped it meant. Thus, without ever saying it, it seems to me my parents were affirming that the Bible should be read as if Jesus was the only lens through which to see God. The result was that Francis and Edith Schaeffer were nicer than their official theology.”
Yes, I think the world would be a better place if more people were nicer than their official theology.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 17, 2016.
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