In my little Methodist Church just outside of New York City, I was taught that Jesus meant Freedom. Liberation. New Life. Equality. As a kid, of course, I was not privy to the nuances of those definitions, at least in the minds of church folk. I don’t remember seeing women assist the pastor with communion, or preach, for that matter. LGBTQ concerns weren’t discussed, so I had no idea that only straight people could be ordained. Still, everyone had the right to speak up and vote on issues in that church, and the Methodist focus on justice and the social Gospel were compelling to me, even as a child.

So, I wonder why so many people who claim to follow Jesus don’t believe in freedom to its fullest extent. The Catholic Church won’t ordain women; the Southern Baptists are split over it. The United Methodist are no longer united because some of them can’t agree that LGBTQ people have enough sacred worth to be ordained into ministry. I’ve written recently about the Amish (and the Mennonites) who use religion to oppress and brutalize women and children. Meanwhile, some Christians claimed that their faith exempted them from wearing masks and getting vaccines. The news is that Christian freedom means doing for others and not doing what hurts others. We aren’t free to do whatever the #%@# we want; when we accept Jesus, we accept the role of servant. It seems that a lot of His followers didn’t read those parts of the Bible.

I don’t like being told what to do as much or more than anyone else; my default is to rebel when commanded. That stops when my behavior hurts someone else. It is the essential – really, the only – commandment Jesus gave before He died. Love one another. And don’t love one another from a human point of view; love one another like Jesus loves us. Fully, warts and all, hopefully, and with empathy. I watch with deep sadness as the church I grew up in and loved is being torn apart by anger, ignorance, and hatred. I weep as I see the truth about the abuse of power in too many churches. I don’t expect perfection from the church – we are only human, after all – but I do expect Christians to at least try to be loving and understanding. Instead of railing against Pride events, go and see what happens. Instead of hating Drag Queens, attend one of the nice events (not the spicy ones – I don’t go to those either). Instead of judging others based on archaic – and wrong – interpretations of Scripture, see the people behind your misguided biases. I bet you will like them, once you get to know them.

Or just keep hating people. Keep trying to control them. Keep taking their rights away. You might feel justified, but you won’t fool God. God has created each one of us with sacred worth and equal rights. Anyone who tries to take those away will – actually, I don’t know what will happen. I guess we will see. You choose oppression – I’ll choose freedom. Good luck.

Prayer – God of equality and equity, forgive us when we mistreat Your children. Have mercy on us and teach us repentance. Amen.

Today’s art is “Equality” by Betty Areson.