Dear Guys and Gals outside the Planned Parenthood on a Tuesday,
First, I want to tell you that despite our fundamental disagreements, you, too, are a human on this planet deserving of love. We so desperately need to be kind to one another. Really. The world grows darker every day, and Love is the nuclear light we need to stay sane and happy. Hell yes, people annoy us. Hell yes, people are sometimes real dicks. Hell yes, it’s hard. Difference can be like that. It’s the best wall builder around. We don’t need to wonder if Mexico or the US is going to pay for the wall. We’ll build it ourselves for free.
Second, I want to say that what follows in this letter isn’t some talking point handed down by Hillary Clinton: fearless leader of liberals, feminists, and pantsuit enthusiasts everywhere. It isn’t something I learned at How-to-be-a-Liberal Bootcamp. I only mention this because when you read what I have to say, you’ll assume this is political. You’ll do that because we’ve all been given our lines by someone. Maybe it’s the church, our political party, our friends on Facebook, the politicians we’ve elected. We are programmed to see people as red or blue, R or D, dope-fiend-yankee-hippie or gun-nut-racist-southern-rebel. I do not represent any party in this letter. I am writing to you as a human and a gutter-familiar Christian.
Jesus was a radical because he embraced, comforted, cared for, healed, overwhelmingly loved, and eventually died for people those dang Pharisees just couldn’t get over. We’re talking hookers, guys. We’re talking tax collectors. We’re talking straight up thieves who stole and lied and cheated. He loved those that society had cast to the side, had forgotten, and sometimes killed in the name of “justice.” Yes, what annoyed the hell out of those in power was the fact that here was this man just riding around on donkeys, washing the feet of other men, and loving the hell out of “those people.” You know, the kind of people you don’t understand because you’ve never taken the time to have an honest conversation with any of them. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus loved everyone. We get it.
I like that Jesus was a radical. He talked to that woman at the well. He didn’t look down his nose at her. He didn’t paint a sign and decide to stand at the well to remind her of who she was. He sat down on the ground and talked to her as she stood over him.
I saw you the other day standing in an ominous row outside a Planned Parenthood and I read your sign. It said, “Turn to Jesus Christ now!” Exclamation point and everything. Good God. And because you are supposedly the Church, when I look for Jesus I am supposed to look to you? All of Jesus’s instructions can be boiled down to a word: Love. Having said that, it was hard for me to find where you were loving when you stood at the gates of a women’s health center holding bullhorns and signs with overly-aggressive wording. It was all condemnation, fear, judgement, and not a spec of love in sight. Your beliefs have more to do with you than they do with Jesus Christ.
As you stood at the gate today, a woman in this town asked herself how she was going to feed a fourth child when she already struggles to feed three. The gap she was standing in should be filled with the mercy and grace of God as seen through the Church. Just a reminder here: that’s you guys. Don’t argue with me about whose job it is to feed the hungry and don’t mention bootstraps here. Read the New Testament and show me where Jesus told the beggars to just figure it the fuck out. Let’s go out for coffee when you find it. I’ll buy.
As you stood at the gate today, homeless men and women were served food and given shelter by people at the Salvation Army. While you stood at the gate today, volunteers with Meals on Wheels fed and comforted neighbors who would otherwise be forgotten. While you stood at the gate today, people all over this city wept from exhaustion, disappointment, and grief. Some of those people did that alone. While you stood at the gate today, wearing all black and carrying bullhorns, people elsewhere acted like the hands and feet of Jesus. When I see them, I see Jesus. When I see you, I see fear...and fear is not Jesus.
You are absolutely entitled to believe what you believe. That is not my issue. I’m just a little pissed that you hide behind Jesus’s robes to do it. Love really is a radical idea. Love in the face of something that scares you, in the face of something you don’t understand, that you want to avoid, that you don’t like, is an even taller order. But Jesus didn’t put conditions on the love we are supposed to give. He didn’t say love the ones that pay their taxes and be dickhead judges to the ones that have abortions.
So look, if you want to have a pow-wow outside the clinic and tell yourself you’re doing God’s work, go ahead. I can’t stop you. But I’d invite you to read the Bible a little closer, maybe without the lens you see everything else with.
Like I said, we can go out for coffee or tea or almond milk and have a long talk. I believe what I believe because I think it is right. I know you think the same about your ideology. The irony of all of it is that I don’t know Scripture nearly as well as you, but I know the important one. Here’s my favorite. Beginning in Matthew, verse 35-40:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Keep it real, guys.
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