Writers write. It’s what we do. But why do we do it?
Some do it because there’s a story inside them that needs to come out. Some do it as a form of wish-fulfillment. Some do it because they dared to explore the question ‘what if?’ Some do it because they want to raise awareness of something important to them. Some do it because they just love a good story. Some have no idea why they do it; they just know they have to.
For me, it’s because I have something to say.
A little more than a year ago I published the post “Pick Up Your Pen and Write,” in which I recognized that my calling to proclaim the gospel manifests itself in my writing, regardless of whether or not I identify myself as a pastor. Whatever my ministry status is, I am a Lutheran writer, and I’m inspired by Martin Luther’s quote: “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” I believe that Christianity has something to offer a world that is plagued with suffering. I believe that Christians can be and must be part of the solution to the world’s problems. Much of what I write is for that purpose.
And much of what I write is discounted or ignored, because I’m a Christian.
According to this article (which is actually a press release for a book) on the Christian Broadcasting Network, millions of non-Christians view Christians as judgmental, hypocritical, anti-homosexual, too political, insensitive, and boring. While many want to blame a liberal media hostile to Christianity for negative portrayals, the researched reveals that fifty percent of those polled based their opinions on their own personal interactions with actual Christians. An article published by the Christian Post echoes these same findings, with non-Christians identifying Christians as selfish, not really interested in others, self-centered, judgmental, and unwilling to develop true friendships with non-Christians. One person stated, “The reason the world hates Christians is because they behave badly, they’re rude, boorish, arrogant, conceited, full of themselves, ignorant, and judgmental.”
Recently the blog No Longer Qivering on Patheos published a Facebook comment they had received as a significant part of a post exploring why Evangelical Christians think it’s okay to break the law, (in the context of the circus that’s going on in Kentucky with Kim Davis). The commenter begins with the statement, “Conservatives insist that there is a ‘war on Christianity.’ The truth is that Christians are waging war on America.” What follows is a well-reasoned and well-articulated rant supporting these statements. However, while the commenter usually specifies ‘right-wing Christian conservatives,’ he or she often just says ‘Christians.’ “Christians are waging war on America.” “There is so much that Christians obviously hate about America that I really can’t imagine what they are talking about when they say they love their country.” “Conservative Christians accuse Americans of waging war on Christianity because blaming others for their own shortcomings is what Christians do. They never take responsibility for their own sins because, according to their belief system, they don’t have to. Their imaginary friend already did that for them. They don’t have to be good or kind or charitable. They can be the most evil, destructive force on the planet and all they have to do is repent before they die. A lazier, more morally bankrupt belief system I cannot imagine.” [Emphasis added.]
One person left a very telling comment to this post, which I have reprinted here in its entirety: “great post—I hope people on the fence about xianianity are seeing what is going on and realizing the danger as outlined in this blog post and get off the fence onto the secular side. also, Where are the average, mainline xians? have they come out in favor of the law and the constitution or kimmy? I have not seen anyone who isn’t secular criticizing the clerk’s behavior–have they done so? when muslim’s behave badly the Xian’s all are mad that the moderates don’t stop them or say they are against the bad behavior.” Happily, someone responded that she is a Christian who does not support Kim Davis, and indicated that she has seen posts by several other Christians condemning Davis’ actions. But it’s clear by these polls and comments that the public perception is that Christians are all the same, and not only do we not have anything positive to contribute, but we are ourselves part of the problem.
That’s what I have to write about.
Many of the beliefs and practices held by my fellow Christians are not merely a matter of one’s own personal faith. Many of those convictions and practices are toxic. Beliefs that are based on a narrow, misguided, out-of-context interpretation of ancient texts do nothing to encourage Christian discipleship, and practices that limit or oppress people based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or any other factor grossly misrepresent the God we Christians claim to worship.
I write blog posts that I hope will help point out the problems inherent in certain branches of Christianity, without rejecting or minimizing Christianity as a whole. There are many of us who disagree with Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee, Matt Walsh, Glenn Beck, et al, who are nonetheless strong in our Christian faith and faithful to our Christian beliefs. There are those of us who see social justice as far more important than personal piety or holiness. And there are those of us who recognize that adhering to certain so-called Christian beliefs can have devastating and even tragic consequences. My novel explores that dynamic in story-form.
I’m not anti-Christian. I am a Christian. But the Christians with the loudest voices, who define for the rest of the world what Christians believe and support do not speak for me, and do not represent the God I worship. I don’t have much of a platform, and much of my platform is made up of people who know me personally. Some of you strongly disagree with what I have to say, and probably believe that I’m not really a Christian. By your reckoning, we won’t meet in heaven. Only time will tell on that one. But I see many false teachers and false prophets, and it is my Christian duty to speak against them. Here I stand; I can do no other.
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.” -Martin Luther (as rendered by Heiko Oberman)