It wasn’t out of malice or even hard-heartedness that Marie Antoinette supposedly uttered these now infamous words, but out of a barnacled ignorance that grows and eventually blinds all people who live in positions of advantage for extended periods of time…
Marie suffered from the same blindness that American Christians suffer so greatly from today:
We actually think we’re the oppressed majority…
We actually think we’re under attack…
We actually think people are waging war on our values…
We’ve become accustomed to our particular Christian values being the exclusive values of the United States of America. We’ve lost sight that the same people we’re convinced are waging war on our bastions of society (or morality) are, in fact, our co-inhabitors of this country who are equal inheritors of the words of our founding fathers.
These are not peasant rabblers at our gates trying to take “our” country.
These are not gays and immigrants trying to loot “our” ideals…
These are not occupiers, socialists and anarchists who simply hate “our” politics.
These are US citizens, made in the likeness and image of God.
And how we choose to respond to them, says more about us than them.
It’s odd when I look back on history and see stories such as the French Revolution. I’m so often struck at the blindness of the entitled population to the climate of the time. There is a cyclical struggle where entitled people really do feel that they are being oppressed and “kicked-out” of being able to participate in society. I often hear this fear rise-up from many of my conservative Christian friends, but I gently remind them of this:
You’re not being oppressed.
You’re being asked to be inclusive of others.
You’re not being kicked-out.
You’re being asked to share the rights and liberties that you now enjoy.
I realize as I’m watching current events unfold that it’s difficult for a segment of Christians to recognize this because we’ve become so entrenched that we own the exclusive right to dictate terms to others in our society, and anyone who challenges this exclusive right is obviously oppressing us! We’re uncomfortably comfortable demanding other faiths, oriented people, races, and genders obey our specific personal brands of Jesus, which sadly, violates the very pattern of humanity Jesus shows us.
I have big news for everyone…
We’re all witnessing, before our very eyes, those days racing toward a very swift culmination. The days when Christians dictate all the terms of engagement in society by crafting all the laws to reflect our specific spiritual practices are coming to a quick end.
Society has shifted under Christians feet, but many of us have yet to realize it.
In twenty years our children will think it is strange that gay people couldn’t get married, just like I think it’s strange that my black friends couldn’t eat at the same counter as me, or that I could actually buy one of my black friends just 150 years ago! In twenty years it will seem normal that Christianity is just one of several perspectives in the civic (and civil) discourse.
In twenty years almost every Christian will understand the rights and importance of being inclusive of our LGBTQ neighbors. Think I’m crazy? Try finding an older Christian who will admit that they rallied against Martin Luther King, or that they voted against women being given the right to vote.
Christians cannot delay the inevitable.
Now please, understand that this is not a threat, or some literary shot across the bow to my fellow Christians…this is my desperate attempt to help you realize that entitled groups (who naturally exclude those who are not like them) only flourish for so long. Let me be abundantly clear, this has nothing to do with personal belief! Christians have the right to hold onto their beliefs regarding gay people, or women, or politics or birth-control…but we’ll need to let go of the idea that we, American Christians, have any right to pass laws that force others live under our moral code.
Because, and I want you to hear this, current “rights” issues are not about gay people. Just like its wasn’t about black folks, or women years ago. This is about us and our entitlement. The conversation surrounding gay marriage is exposing the issues barnacled onto our hearts…just like the peasants need for affordable bread exposed Marie Antoinette’s perspective.
There is one common ending for groups who resist loving their neighbor as themselves, refusing to be inclusive of others, and stubbornly entrenching themselves as the sole keepers and scribes of all social norms, laws, and liberties for as long as they can…
They eventually all suffer the fate of Marie Antoinette.
So, let me take a few final words and implore Christians to re-imagine with me a new ending to this cycle we find ourselves in. I’m re-imagining an ending where Christians choose to live out the teachings of Jesus and pro-actively include others who differ from them, even loving them without agenda. I’m re-imagining a new beginning where we move beyond ‘us and them’ and finally see the world the Way that God sees it, with only an ‘us.’ Let us each be determined to shake off the scales of blindness, and realize that there is no cake for some in the US to eat. Finally, let us steadfastly work together toward a bold new world that Jesus will be proud to come back to where He finds His followers no longer trapped in proving that we are right, but in every moment…
Proving that we are love.
Jimmy Spencer Jr (@jimmyspencerjr) is the founder and CEO of Love Without Agenda and author of Love Without Agenda: Moving Our Spiritual Goalposts from Heaven & Hell to Wholeness. He’s just a good guy trying to change the world—and himself—one act of love at a time.