Many, I would hope, recognize the title of the blog as a bible verse from the New Testament. If you go back and read the entire chapter 4 in 1st John you’ll find the author expounding upon the duties of the Christian which is to love each other. It’s a great touchy feely passage that Christians, particularly the liberal strain, really likes. After you’ve had your fill of blood and death, and genocide and stoning and smiting that fills the pages of the Bible, you come to near the end (before the truly crazy part) and you have a lovely little sermon on love.
As a former Christian I gave a tremendous amount of lip service to loving neighbors and enemies, and turning cheeks, and giving tunics, as did most of my friends, parents, pastors, and other members of the congregation. I was certainly sincere in my lipservice and I believe that today most Christians are sincere in their lip service. If you were to interview the Westboro Baptist church, as has been done, you’ll find that they are a church of love. They believe their message of hate and condemnation is an act of love. It’s a warning of the hell that awaits the LGBT community should they persist in “rebelling” against god. What could be more loving than that? Same as the Ku Klux Klan. They’re all about bringing the love to people and I believe they are sincere. Totally confused, but sincere.
What I think Christians do not understand and can not understand is the necessity of ending tribalism. It’s certainly something that the Disciples couldn’t understand, and the early church began dividing up people into groups in a hurry. As soon as Christians achieved a smidgen of real power, they began using tribalism to massacre other groups. — oh, you thought the pagan religion disappeared because of the strength of Christian evangelical and missionary efforts? oh I’m laughing so hard it hurts. Even today with the denominational structure Christianity is obsessed with US and THEM. At best the “they” can be converted into an “us”, at worst they’re demonic and need to be exterminated. It’s probably most obvious in America’s geopolitical enemies, but only because it’s easier to see our own faults in others.
Liberals can be plenty racist. Intellectually ideologically liberal individuals know this, but they’re usually a little confused as to how. The how begins with the division between “us” and “them”. I’m not suggesting a cultureless melting pot. Being unable to appreciate the unique attributes of the people we come across is incredibly racist. If you can’t “See color” I suggest you learn. The difference is the separation. When you use social and economic factors for your own benefit it ends up excluding others and tribalism is born. Think “I’m moving to a neighborhood with better schools, lower crime, fancier restaurants….”. This is explicitly moving away from people of color and into your own little tribe.
It was only when I left Christianity did I realized how locked into my own tribe I really was. I went to Africa to turn more of “them” into “us”. Quite successfully I might add. I was warned about the people “out there” meaning in the secular world in secular universities. Not a day goes by conservative christians say something incredibly offensive toward the LGBT community. Not that you care if you offend one of “them”.
No longer can I separate myself from humanity. Not the gays, not the blacks, not the muslims. Not ISIS, Iran, Iraq, Somalia and all the other groups that hate us. I understand them, in part. Enough to know that I can not hate them back. I feel no need to convert others to my beliefs, and alternatively, feel no need to those who refuse to condemn them to an eternity of hell. There are Christians who believe this, or at least say they do. But in my experience it’s rare. There are certainly immoral and hateful atheists. The world has seen more than it’s fair share of evil being generated by that ideology. But if you go back to the Bible, to perfect love casting out fear, then you must intrinsically acknowledge how much fear there is in the human heart. Hate is bred from such things. Tribalism is bred from this. When you finally have perfect love… when you have no fear, you find yourself in love with the human race. I’m not perfect. I may be an arrogant sumbitch, but I’m not so egotistical I’m unaware of my own failings, fears, and frustrations. However, I see the death of Christianity in the birth of love. True love that is. It’s a thing to be wished for. It’s a slowly realizing hope that we can end the separation and tribalism of the world. The question that comes to me is which comes first, the death of Christianity, or the birth of love. Either way I’m convinced the two are mutually exclusive.