Conservative Christian beliefs, some of them, used to repulse me.
I found their claims of inerrancy of scripture and literal interpretation of the scripture terribly unenlightened. I found the condemnation of the LGBTQ community and the oppression of women scandalously wrong.
Like a good American, I thought they should still believe what they wanted to, but deep down I still felt like I was justified for thinking they just hadn’t quite arrived at the truth.
It wasn’t until I moved to Berkeley and got lumped in with Conservative Christians that I began to really evaluate my own lack of compassion toward passionate people who are just trying to do what they believed is right. I’m not saying social injustice should go unchecked or that tensions with beliefs should go unvoiced. But there is a distinct difference between offering critiques with compassion in genuine effort to locate value in a position verses ripping a belief to pieces because of one’s own convictions without trying to understand.
The unenlightened in Berkeley are those who claim Jesus as the Christ, who believe Jesus was God in the flesh, who believe he died for the sake of having life to the fullest, those who call God “He,” and there’s more, but I’m done listing them. Some of my feelings stem from my own insecurities because what I believe is not popular; however there is an extent to which what I believe is viewed as a lack of critical evaluation.
This is just the sort of bullshit I pulled on Conservative Christians when I lived in Arizona. I never said anything to their faces, but I still thought they were not critically evaluating what they believed. It was wrong of me. I shouldn’t have been so judgmental. I am sorry.
Unfortunately, I had to experience the same kind of treatment before my attitude could change. I was in the minority in Phoenix because I’m a progressive Christian who doesn’t have a high opinion of guns. I just have never been in the minority with so few in my corner while being identified with the kind of Christianity from which I try to disassociate.
I still disagree with certain things identified as “conservative Christianity.” I think inerrancy means a great number of things and it means something different from how it has traditionally been used. I still think a literal interpretation of the Bible is creates a lot of problems. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with being LGBTQ, and having lady parts doesn’t make one any less fit for pastor-ing, church-ing, praying or any other kind of –ing there is.
My point is if we are going to truly live in a community in which we honor diversity and honor individual beliefs and personalities, we damn well better be prepared to hold each person and each belief in compassion and tenderness. This is what embracing diversity means. Anything less, especially while harboring a belief that they are somehow beneath us, is never going to achieve genuine community.
It may not be possible to eradicate insensitivity, but it is certainly possible to cultivate tenderness. And tenderness, I believe, crosses a great many divides; the most notable of which is the one the Divine crosses every moment to be in relationship with us.