For the Christian part of me…I am sorry

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I stood at the back of the bar and listened to the lament of the poet. A sorrowful keening of being misunderstood, of being told that who he was simply was not ‘right’. The crack in his voice and the tears in his eyes communicated as much as his words ever could. His poem was about his Christian parents. Parents that did all that they could to “get the gay out of him.” Parents from whom he felt nothing but judgment. Parents who were scared and whose fear translated into rejection. The abandonment of a teenage boy in the name of upholding “Christian morals.” I do wonder how many times our morals can get in the way of our love.

As one who has grown up in the Evangelical Christian tradition I find myself often having to separate myself from that tradition. The overwhelming baggage that comes with such a term. I am a deeply spiritual man. A major part of this spirituality was my upbringing around an evangelical Christian table. This tradition, whether I like it or not, has, therefore shaped much of my own spirituality. Both in terms of that which I have taken on from the tradition and that which I have rebelled against. I am its pattern and the inverse of its pattern.

Related: Is Evangelicalism Headed for a Split? by Tony Campolo

For some even those words, ‘Evangelical Christianity’, will likely induce a nervous twitch in the neck muscle. At this point, the easiest thing for you to do, would be to place me into a box of everything you think about Evangelical Christianity and then proceed to take a hammer to the box. This is often the way we work as humans. We love our systems and our labels and our boxes. It allows us to not have to deal with the complexities of real life flesh and blood people. It means we can simply ignore them and bring a critique to the construct that we have placed them inside.

We do this all the time in my country (Australia) when it comes to Asylum Seekers. We place a label upon them. Something like ‘Illegal Immigrant’ or ‘Queue jumper.’ This label then allows us to forget about the life of the mother who is doing everything she can to try and keep her family safe and instead to make up policies about the nebulus construct that is ‘illegal immigrants’. Life is not as simple as this. People are not as simple as this. We strip a person of their humanity when we do so.

Also by Joel: When God No Longer Hates Fags

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I stood at the back of the bar as the poet lamented and raged against his parents. Against them and their religion. He raged and raged and indeed rightly so. I stood at the back of the bar and let every tear stain into my skin. Too many times I have heard this story. Too many times. As I look back upon my tradition I see much good done in the world and I see a whole lot of bad. A complex mass of people and their brokenness. I want to judge them, harshly. And yet, as I look back upon my own life I see exactly the same. I am complicit in the madness. I am part of the system. I am more than just me. I am one with the whole of humanity and her brokenness. The good and the bad it all flows through me. And so on behalf of humanity, to humanity, I think we need to say sorry.

The next day I wrote the following poem…

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Joel McKerrow is an author, speaker, performance poet and educator from Melbourne Australia. He has, for the last five years, been on faculty at Tabor College Victoria is the founder of ‘The Centre for Poetics and Justice’. Joel is a regular host on ‘indiefeed performance poetry podcast’ (the most well known spoken word podcast in the world) and in 2012 was the third ever Australian to represent his nation at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships. He is the author of Beyond Rhetoric, Writings in the Tradition of Kahlil Gibran and is passionate about discovering a new way to live outside the system of the Empire of Greed and spends much of his time trying to match his actions with this belief.

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About the Author

Joel McKerrow

Joel McKerrowJoel McKerrow is an author, speaker, performance poet and educator from Melbourne Australia. He has, for the last five years, been on faculty at Tabor College Victoria is the founder of ‘The Centre for Poetics and Justice’. Joel is a regular host on ‘indiefeed performance poetry podcast’ (the most well known spoken word podcast in the world) and in 2012 was the third ever Australian to represent his nation at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships. He is the author of Beyond Rhetoric, Writings in the Tradition of Kahlil Gibran and is passionate about discovering a new way to live outside the system of the Empire of Greed and spends much of his time trying to match his actions with this belief.View all posts by Joel McKerrow →

  • bluecenterlight

    I am always amazed at our capacity to allow our being right to cause so much wrong. Lord bring revival. We need to be your church again.

  • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

    I am not a prophet, but I will make a prediction: after just a few days, we will have well over 100 comments here. We will have the champions of one side claiming that they “love the sinner and hate the sin,” and that those who disagree with them think that sin is acceptable. We will have the champions of the other side claiming that those who disagree with them don’t know what love actually is. All will claim that their opponents no longer follow Jesus. None will listen to what their opponents actually say.

    Vanity of vanities! All is vanity and chasing after wind.

    • otrotierra

      Well, because the bible bans eating meat and dairy together, we have a serious problem of christians not calling out the sins of cheeseburgers. So don’t mind me as I spend the next several posts demanding my right to speak out against cheeseburger sins because my judgement is needed, necessary, and commanded.

      • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

        …and so it begins. But thank you for demonstrating, otro.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000699994198 David Reynolds

        You cheeseburger eating hypocrite! How can you claim to know God?

    • bluecenterlight

      Have you had a steady diet of locusts lately? Ha. Men are not very complicated beings are we. I think the crux is that we all talk a lot and do little. If we spent as much time living out our convictions vs. arguing about them we would have little time for silliness.

      • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

        “If we spent as much time living out our convictions vs. arguing about them we would have little time for silliness.” Amen!

    • questioning

      More like breaking wind…. You are right. I have grown tired of this argument and have sometimes probably said more than I should. The thing that always seems to be missing, particularly in this discussion, is humility. Setting this particular argument aside for a moment…. We have the Word, but not everyone interprets it the same way. There are differences of opinion on many subjects. Still, based on our tribe’s interpretation, we have teaching, and that teaching leads us to belief and hopefully a relationship with the Savior. That belief can also become so strong, that we start to confuse it with knowledge, and all that does is puff us up. When we start to believe we have superior knowledge to another person or group, then we have sinned in our pride. What do any of us really know? Not much… Our so called knowledge and learning is pitiable. Our righteousness, filthy rags. I’ve said this before and I need to constantly remind myself…. I do not know the answer. I can only pray, and trust that the Lord will impart guidance and wisdom. We should always, in humility, be keenly aware that we need to rely on our relationship with the Savior, not our puffed up knowledge.

    • SamHamilton

      That seems to be, sadly, the common theme.

      And as otro has shown, you forgot the worn out “if you’re going to condemn homosexuality you have to follow every jot and tittle of OT law” criticism.

      • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

        That’s why I edited in accusations of hypocrisy

        • SamHamilton

          Ah, I see!

    • 22044

      Good idea – what if we all took a step back?

  • Frank

    And in 20 years more Christians will be apologizing for deceiving people that homosexual behavior is not sinful and should be affirmed, condoned and celebrated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ochieng.dimba Ochieng Dimba

    I suggest we all take a step back and just listen,because our ability to string up words or make the best arguments for or against will not stop God’s light from radiating the Truth which is what we cannot approach in our unrepentant lives,he is not really hiding FROM us but hiding FOR us,for our own good.He says,only believe and today whatever our struggles,why cant we just step back and just listen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/martinpeterclarke Martin Clarke

    Thank you Joel. For including us ALL. Like our Brother.

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