Jesus Is The Solution To Christianity’s Problems
Christianity in America is, for the most part, a slurry of sexism, homophobia, racism and toxic masculinity. The country is more divided now than it has been since the Civil War. The recently leaked SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade feels like a test, like the conservative justices are feeling out how far they can go before the riots get bad enough to negatively affect them. If they succeed in flipping Roe, all protections for women, LGBTQ+ people and people of color will be on the chopping block, to the delight of a significant number of people who identify as Christians.
Some quick math: about 65% of Americans identify as Christian in 2022, and about 33% of those are Evangelical. That’s about 21.5% of the population, and that doesn’t include politically conservative Catholics, or members of denominations that aren’t “Evangelical”. Anyone who values democracy in America has a problem and that problem is directly connected to Christianity. What non-Christian Americans can or should do to address that problem is not what I’m on about here. This is about what those of us who are inside Christianity, but who don’t want to live in a Christian fascist nation can do.
The solution for us is Jesus. He is the source of our strength and we are going to need every single bit of Him we can get. On the off chance that our country doesn’t become a dystopian nightmare — Handmaid’s Tale or Mad Max — there’s still the possibility that we’re living in the early days of WWIII, and if the Russia/Ukraine thing is resolved without global damage, there’s no real hope that anybody in power is going to do anything that might actually prevent climate change from having massive impacts on all of us.
In my denomination, when we say the Lord’s Prayer, we say “save us from the time of trial” instead of “deliver us from evil”. Friends, this is the time of trial. We’re in it now. I’m not saying it’s the End Times — or that it isn’t. History provides us with plenty of “times of trial” — I’m just suggesting that we try to get our heads around the idea that this is one now. Despite our asking, Jesus didn’t stop it from happening, but He can and, we believe, will help us through it.
Jesus is also the solution when we address the more politically conservative members of our faith tradition. Evangelicals generally support policies that directly contradict Jesus’ teachings. That’s why, though they love to quote the Bible, they almost never quote our Lord. There really aren’t Jesus quotes that can be taken out of context and used to support causing harm to trans kids. The best response to Evangelicals is to simply quote Jesus and keep on quoting Him, with love and compassion and a sincere desire to bring the lost sheep back to the fold.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44–45
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” John 13:34
“(When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, )“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
And so on. They will certainly respond with something from Leviticus or Numbers, but just keep at it. Maybe ask if they consider themselves followers of Jesus or Moses. Actually, atheists and other non-Christians can use the same tactic. The point is, give them Jesus and let them decide whether they want Him or not. Because they’ll have to decide. Following Jesus is simply not compatible with white nationalism. Even Hitler knew that Christianity couldn’t be made to serve white nationalism — the Deutsche Christen, the Third Reich’s approved church, denied that Jesus was a Jew and attempted to portray Him as an Aryan warrior god — sort of like Thor, or like the white warrior that Evangelicals worship. The Deutsche Christen was designed to fail: it was too absurd to last and was a temporary measure to placate German Christians. The end goal was to replace Jesus with the Führer.
Pushed to a choice, some Evangelicals will choose Trump over Jesus. Many of them already consider him an agent of God, judging from the signs they carry and the way they slavishly support him no matter what. Better that they own up to the fact. Other Evangelicals will recognize that they have put a man in Christ’s place — maybe, I don’t know. I believe that the premises of Christianity are so far from any person’s lived experience as to be literally unbelievable without the help of the Holy Spirit, and I have no idea what She will choose to do. But, as a Christian, I do hope and pray that whoever is in error will be set right — especially if it’s me.
I mentioned my denomination — that’s the ELCA, and the “E” stands for “Evangelical” — in the sense of “euangelizesthai”, Greek, “to bring good news”, not the political sense. I believe that Jesus, the Messiah, came into the world to save the world, not condemn it, and that He taught His followers to help those in need, to care for the poor and marginalized and to love all people without exception. If the 65% of Americans who identify as Christian actually did what Jesus said to do, even most of the time, our country would be radically changed for the better. They don’t though — actually, we don’t. More Jesus means more Jesus — to counter the damage being done by white nationalism masquerading as Christianity, and to live up to our responsibilities as the Body of Christ.