The Universal Notebook: Forgive them, for they know not what they do

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Last week I saw a group of so-called “Christians” picketing against Pride month in downtown Brunswick. Most were thirtysomething white men and they carried signs claiming that homosexuality is a sin.

It’s not, of course. Nor is anyone a true Christian who parades around telling fellow human beings that they are sinners.

Edgar Allen BeemLest we forget, the Golden Rule, as Christ preached in the Sermon on the Mount, is to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus also said in that same sermon, “Judge not lest ye be judged” and “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log in your own?”

Fundamentalist Christians seem to ignore Christ’s teachings on most things. Jesus preached a doctrine of love and forgiveness. There is nothing loving or forgiving about telling someone that the way God made them is wrong or sinful. 

Some of the Pride objectors down on Maine Street held up placards with Bible passages supposedly condemning homosexuality. But the Bible is not only full of ancient wisdom but also ancient nonsense.

If you take the Bible literally as the inviolable word of God, you have to believe it’s OK to stone disobedient children and non-virgins, fine to cut off a wife’s hand if she defends her husband, that you have an obligation to eat your children if you don’t obey God, and that you should expect the death penalty for cursing your parents – just to mention a few of the horrible, indefensible pronouncements of the world’s most conflicted book.

Everyone picks and chooses what they take from the Bible.

This same self-indulgent selectivity applies to the anti-abortion protestors who hoot and holler weekly outside Planned Parenthood offices in Portland. Rubbing someone’s face in the unhappy reality of abortion is not Christ-like behavior. Christ would never do it and would not condone it.

Presumably, abortion protestors think they are good people and that the women who have made the agonizing decision to terminate a pregnancy are not. They are wrong. There is something wrong with people who are uncomfortable with the varieties of human love.

If I thought any of these self-righteous individuals acted out of love and compassion, I would at least give them credit for being sincere. But when I see men and women protesting abortion and gay pride, I believe I am seeing extremely troubled individuals acting out of anger and fear. And that’s being charitable.

What I really think is that I am looking at abusive people in need of therapy. 

Anyone who is truly pro-life would be pro-gun control, pro-sex education and contraception, antiwar, and anti-death penalty. But abortion protestors are not really pro-life. They are just pro-punishment. Anyone who opposes abortion even in the case of rape is simply heartless and cruel.

The hypocrisy of conservative Christians gives Christianity a bad name. Most mainstream Christian denominations, including the United Church of Christ to which I belong, support the LGBTQ community and welcome them into the full life of the church. 

Of course, I don’t believe fundamentalists are Christians in any meaningful way. They are simply religious extremists who, like religious extremists all over the world, create a climate of fear and violence that makes life dangerous for those they brand as sinners. In fact, it is they who are the sinners.

May God forgive them for not being able to see the logs in their own eyes.

Edgar Allen Beem has been writing The Universal Notebook weekly since 2003, first for The Forecaster and now for the Phoenix. He also writes the Art Seen feature.

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