Let's Get Ready to Rumble
When my sister was young she could have a pretty quick temper. My brother and I knew that. So as loving brothers we did all we could to help her keep her temper in check. NOT! We would do whatever we could to set my sister off and then count how many bad words she would string together at one time. It passed the time and was great sport. I am happy to report that today my sister is one of the kindest and mildest manner believers there is. You are welcome Pam.
Today, I feel like many Christians are like the younger version of my sister. What they believe in is under such public attack that they are becoming full of anger and ready to rumble at the drop of a hat. It is what the Bible warns against in Prov 14:17; 29:11; I Tim 3:3; and Titus 1:7. I especially like the word Paul uses to warn Pastors. It is the word for “brawler” or “quarrelsome”. A pastor is not to be one who is quick to get into verbal scrapes with people. James 1:19 is very important for our discussion: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Like my brother and I, there are many in our country who find it amusing to poke the bear. I believe they find great amusement in watching Christians go berserk when they say or do something. Recently a member of Congress closed his prayer to a Hindu god with the phrase “amen and awomen”. His later explanation of this was that it was a pun meant to recognize and amuse the women in Congress. So many people, Christians included, went nuts trying to explain that amen is not a gendered word but a word meaning “so be it”. I do not believe that this Congressman is so ignorant that he believed the word is a gendered word. You must then ask why he would make such a pun? Was he poking the bear in order to mock those who would react? Speaker Nancy Pelosi found herself in the same controversy when she proposed taking out gendered words from the Rule of the House document. Soon it was spread that she was banning any reference to mothers, fathers, men or women in any speech in Congress. That was not the case, but once again, many found themselves worked up and brawling over the wrong thing.
I am not denying that what conservative Christians believe is under attack. It always has been and always will be. I am not saying that believers should not stand up for what is right. We should fight the lies that are being propagated by those who oppose our faith. But I am saying that we must be careful not to become brawlers. People who are so quick to drop the verbal gloves and fight. We must have the facts and context correct when we choose to speak out against untruth. We must not allow ourselves to be baited into a fight about a pun or an off handed comment. The stakes are too high for us to be so quick to become angry that we look foolish.
We believe in freedom of religion. If a congressman desires to pray to a Hindu god then that is his right. If he wants to say foolish things like amen and awomen then he will bear the brunt of trying to be funny. We must not fall into the trap of reacting so quickly out of anger that we do not address the real issues. Changing the language of an official document to better reflect the gender make up of the Congress is trivial and a reflection of the war being fought, not really the war. Do not be bated into fighting for the trivial and forgetting the bigger truths. People will stop listening if we brawl about every reflection of the real problem. Stand for the truth, have a righteous anger, and do not allow them to poke us into a reaction.