Have I become one of them? A hater? It has crossed my mind more than once in my life. As I've struggled to figure out how this big, giant cold world operates. What's what. Who's who. What I believe. And what I don't. Who is for me. Who is against me. Who are my honest-to-goodness friends. And who are not. If you don't remember, I was born and raised in the church. Large. Evangelical. Praise music. Jesus is the only way. There is no other. I've been a youth leader, choir director, singer, speaker, errand-running boy, the whole lot. And I traveled off and on for twelve years with a traveling Christian singing group bringing people to Jesus via music. A lot has changed in my life since then. And some things have not changed. I have spent quite a number of years now without the contact of my former church friends -- the majority of whom will have nothing to do with me because of my "lifestyle choice" as they say. But a few have dared venture back into my life. You see, years ago, there would be no blending of right-wing evangelical Christian church and the gays. Nope. Not. Ever. Today is a bit different, perhaps.
I have a dear, longtime friend....a beautiful Christian woman friend who is quite an amazing individual. I've liked her since day one. We are friends on Facebook, and I'm glad we are. She recently posted a disturbing video about a school in Kabul who is teaching horrible lessons to their boys. About hating the United States. About how the US is wrong and horrible and terrible and that they should have nothing to do with us. And that they should fight us. It's a less-than-pleasant video to watch. So, I commented below the video: "...And yet once more I am reminded of how hate and prejudice is actually taught....not inborn. I'm thinking of how I was raised to not like Russians (Communists) in the Cold War era...they were scary people! And how I was taught that Mormons were to be kept at a distance. And that Catholics were not actually Christians. And how Canadians were socialist liberals and we certainly didn't want any part of that. Nor the gays....because they were just "that way." And the list goes on and on. I do my best to keep an open mind and heart...." I wasn't excusing what they are teaching in the school. Not at all. I think it's horrible and 100% wrong to teach hatred and twist the hearts and minds of the young in our world. Her response comment was: "...Just don't hate the haters -- or you become the same thing. ♥"
We have a beautiful young niece who we love dearly. She is on our hearts and minds on many days. And she loves us. And we love her. She accepts us for who we are. And we accept her for who she is. We always have a great time together. We have chatted for all of her growing up years that one day she will discover that she has two uncles that live together and that, well, they must be more than uncles. That day has come and gone. Nothing has changed. And it won't until she is taught (remember the video..the teaching) otherwise. Until a Sunday School teacher or pastor or friend tells her otherwise. Until someone opens up a Bible and erroneously tries to point fingers that really have no business pointing. Thankfully, I've got a bit more belief in her tender heart than to think that she will ever turn her back on us. In fact, I think that we'll be pretty tight with her for a very long time to come.
Am I the same thing as the haters? Like I said earlier, it has occurred to me that those who hate the haters are still, well, haters. And then there is the difference between hating who people are versus what people do. Believe me, I know all about being hated for who I am. The tough part for me regarding the video is that these boys are actually, formally, being taught to hate. It is not who they are to begin with. It is who they will become because of the twisted teaching of hate. Now, I don't hate them, or their teacher. But I do hate what they are teaching and doing....the way they are taking tender minds and using them for bad. And this conversation could very easily venture right on into mainstream Christianity in the United States today and how it is violently uncomfortable with what they have termed the gay agenda. Oh, they say they don't hate me, us. I'm all-too-familiar with phrases like "Love the sinner but hate the sin." Hogwash. For years now, that phrase has just made it more tolerable and palatable to enjoy the agenda of separation that the church has put in place between itself and the outside world. The church, nearly any church, has never been good at bridging the gap in a flawless, easy path between itself and anything going on outside its four walls -- yoga, gays, unmarried couples, single mothers with children, Eastern religions, Tibetan prayer flags, meditation, smoking, drinking, those who do not believe in Christianity.
But do I hate them? I don't think I'd call it hate. But now that I'm thinking about it, there are a few things that I do, perhaps, hate: hypocrisy, focusing on issues outside the church than inside its four walls, teaching children that being Catholic or Mormon is going to take them to hell, telling children that their gay aunts or uncles are living in sin and that they are going to hell, pretending to like someone all the while having ulterior motives to change them, using fear-based videos and books to show people that the way another nation or religious system believes is wrong....those are things I hate. Among others.
So, I guess I am a hater after all. So, yeah, go ahead and call me a hater. I guess I am one. And apparently no better than them.