Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Comments and criticism may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
by Mary Pitt
The assault on our freedoms by the "Old Testament Christians", those who use the Ten Commandments as their lodestar and place great faith in Jewish Law, the advocacy of Holy War, and the justifications of the ancient prophesies in their missionary zeal to control the world, are finally getting some opposition from the devout followers of the example of Jesus Christ. With Jim Wallis of Sojourner Magazine at its head, the horde of "Quiet Christians" is finally on the march, espousing their belief in "a kinder, gentler" religion and the teachings of Jesus as He walked the earth.
For the Bibliophiles among you, Mr. Wallis refers you to Matthew 25 and the words of Christ Himself as regards the standards on which we will be judged by our treatment of our fellow man. Also in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 5, Jesus makes it very clear that He was the "fulfillment" of the Law and set an even higher standard for the Christians than that which had governed the Jews. Taking "one-tenth of our increase" to the altar is no longer enough! Not if we drive by in our nice cars on the way to do our "Christian duty" past the homeless who are sleeping in the streets, not if there are hungry children, trying to learn in a seedy, under-funded school or mothers reduced to begging or worse, to keep food in the house for her babies. He tells us, first, to make peace with our adversary, to be reconciled with our brethren, and to give what is asked by those in need. The mandatory stonings and beheadings of the Old Testament were replaced with the eternal forgiveness of a loving God. This was depicted by the statement, "If there be any among you who is without sin, let him cast the first stone."
This is the true test of Christianity. Jesus did not tell us to go forth into the world and kill those who refuse to agree with us. His instructions were that we go forth in peace, teaching and nurturing, to bring souls to Him by example. He told us not to lust for power and earthly kingdoms or riches, but to aspire to a higher goal of peace and brotherhood. We are admonished to let Caesar be Caesar and neither to support nor oppose worldly governments other than in a non-violent manner, with dignity and love. He specifically enjoins us from the type of radical evangelical militant "Christianity" that is evident in the "religious right" of our time. Indeed, he admonished against the practices of "shouting prayers on the street" in order to vaunt our own piety to the passers-by, but instead to pray in private and to let our behavior testify to our relationship with God. This does not mean that we must deny our faith, only that we must demonstrate it by our actions.
How many of us would open our homes to an orphan, less a subsidized program of reimbursement by a social service agency? Who would open the door to a hungry, homeless beggar? Who would offer to meet the needs of a stranger if it involved a real sacrifice of our own money, our time, or our privacy? That is the true test of our Christianity! It has become so easy to "give to the church" or to "donate to charity" those things which we feel we can spare. We have institutionalized charities so that we do not have to become personally involved, but they cannot fill all the needs. We have made government programs which still fall short of being sufficient and then we snarl at the cost because we are unwilling to make the sacrifice of paying sufficient taxes to fund them. We consider poverty, squalor, and illness as not being our concern but somebody else's problem. "We take care of our own", we cry, "and others could, too, if they would only apply themselves." But, in both testaments, we are adjured that we are not only "our brother's keepers" but that anyone we meet should be treated as our "neighbor" and we must love them as ourselves. In His Book, God tells us that greed and selfishness are as deadly as the other sins which we must avoid..
While we may boast of the "surge" of professed Christianity in our great nation, we have become unforgiveably selfish. We want it all and we want it now! At the time of the greatest affluence in the history of the world we, as a nation, have become more acquisitive and more personally greedy than any since the days of ancient Rome. We send our "all-volunteer army" to destroy innocent familes in Iraq, holding them in involuntary servitude in the manner of the Roman Legions while the sons of the rich and powerful lounge at home, establishing lucrative careers and surviving above the fray. We loot the resources of the world, leaving the inhabitants in poverty while we celebrate our "chosen" position as their "betters". And then we go to church and praise God for His "gifts" as if we truly deserve them.
While those who disapprove of the actions and the proclamations of certitude by the Christians on the right would find it much easier to love them were we not constantly bombarded by those who would befuddle our minds and threaten our souls by telling us that they have a "direct line" to God and that He is telling them things that are at odds with the instructions that He left for us in His Book. We find no place in His Word that we are to persecute those who do not live in our ways, to treat them as less than human, or to hound them to their graves with signs proclaiming, "GOD HATES FAGS"! At no place do we find instructions that we are to mistreat and neglect children who are born out of wedlock, in no place are we commanded to commit such violence as to bomb abortion clinics, and in no place are we commanded to impose our beliefs on others by law or by public condemnation. At no time were we given permission or adjuration to hate the "sons of Ishmael" who live under the same protections of God as do the "sons of Israel". These are transgressions that are hard to acknowledge, much less to forgive and we will leave that forgiveness to God Who, alone, has the ultimate power to do so.
These "Quiet Christians" are performing their responsibility under the charge left us by Christ Himself when they speak out against the godless policies of the current government and advocate for peace rather than war and love rather than hate. We may be able to vanquish the armies of those who dislike and disrespect us, but war will not necessarily bring peace and the threat of death will not create love. We need to begin to think on a higher plane and ask ourselves, with our minds open to truth, "What WOULD Jesus do?" The answer is in His words and in His example.