Christina Engela - 2011-03-23
Are good Christians "too forgiving"?
That's quite an interesting question, especially if you look at the "inerrant” scriptures which set the precedent for "turning the other cheek". Why do I think "good" Christians might be too forgiving? For that matter, why do I think there might be Christians who are not good, but bad? Why indeed?
I’ve just read this article by Michael Hamar, and it – and the comments – brought a few things to my attention. First, that I am clearly not the only one being accused of being hostile to Christianity in general – having also occasionally to post reminders that I am taking on bigotry and bigotry originating from various religious groups and not specifically targeting all adherents of the whole religion.
Which brings me back to the point. There are "good" Christians, who to most people are the folks who welcome all people and treat them with respect and tolerance for their diversity in general – which appears to be in keeping with the way that Christ lived – and since he was the founder of this religion, hence the name, one would expect this to be the backbone of the faith itself. But is it?
If those are the "good" Christians, then who are the other "Christians"? I am tempted to label them "bad" Christians – the folks who hijack their religion and turn it into a sort of nationalist movement called "Christianism" – the folks who make targets out of anyone who displeases them or offends their narrow and scriptural and blatantly "pharisee-like" view of the world. Another term which appears to fit this sort of "Christian", or Christianist, is "Levitican". The Christianists can indeed best be defined by those they hate.
In one of the comments left beneath this article by Michael Hamar, a religious minister indicates that in his church – as I am sure is the case in many others, the concerns for the well-being of others are sidelined or smothered out of fear of "upsetting" more conservative members of their congregations. “Conservative” here being the operative word.
So, if "good" Christians are the folks who welcome all people and treat them with respect and tolerance – including the other sort of "Christian" – are they being too forgiving?
They repeatedly back down for them, make excuses for them, and remain silent while these bigots and bigoted leaders make vitriolic statements and engage in inciting hatred against minority groups – speaking ambiguously and misleadingly on behalf of "all" Christians as if they have their authority and backing to do so.
One of my favourite quotes is this one by Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men (and women) do nothing." Funny enough, this same quote has been used and abused by both sides in almost every argument about human rights since it was written and I cannot help but comment on the enormous irony in this – because according to Wikipedia, Burke was "an Irish political philosopher, Whig politician and statesman who is often regarded as the father of modern conservatism".
Lastly, the source of two of my favourite quotes of all time is Mahatma Gandhi, who said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." It is telling to me that such clarity should be available about a religion from someone who was not part of that religion.
Gandhi's second quote is this one: "Be the change you want to see in the world." And it is this one I live by.
"Good" Christians – and good people everywhere – need to be reminded of the unmistakable fact that silence = death.