Hateful Christians and Certain Love
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:13
It was scary enough when the young white man stood up in the middle of our Drag Gospel Festival worship service and started screaming religious invective at us, telling us we were in Satan’s clutches. Every mind immediately went to Mother Emmanuel AME Church, where nine people had been shot dead by another young white man, just for being who they were: black and Christian.
But our fear persisted into the next week, when a conservative blogger got hold of the story and spread it around the Internet, riling up dozens of people who sent us emails, made harassing phone calls and posted ugly things on our social media. “Drop a bomb on it!” said one man.
And fear persisted into the week after that, when a different young white man showed up early for worship. He kept looking around him nervously. When I stood to give our (non)traditional welcome, “Welcome if you are queer or straight or a little bit of each…black or brown or white or a little bit of each,” I was keenly aware of his hand in his pocket, and my own vulnerability.
But then, in the midst of the deluge of hate from other Christians, this unwittingly ironic comment appeared, to praise us with faint damnation:
“This sodomite festival raised $7,000 for LGBT support!!! This means sinners give more graciously than those who profess to be saved! We have done event after event to raise money to do God’s work to bring the gospel to villages all over Latin America, and our average earnings per event are $300-400. What is wrong with this picture?”
When push comes to shove amidst all the pushing and shoving, I’d rather be a generous sinner than a parsimonious saint. And I’d rather be convicted by others as a heretic than self-convicted of my own place in Heaven. Certainty about our righteousness may be the worst sin we can commit, because it blinds us to our unrighteousness.
God, let me be uncertain about my own righteousness, and certain of your unconditional love for both me and my enemies.
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Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.