For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves. (II Corinthians 11:19)
As some of you who have been following this blog for a while can attest, I don’t suffer fools gladly. I have even less patience with people claiming to be Christ’s disciples acting like jerks.
This morning, a U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri, Todd Akin, had this to say about a raped woman’s chances of getting pregnant:
“It seems to me first of all from what I understand from doctors that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”[i]
According to the Denver Post, Mike Huckabee lauds Akin as a “courageous conservative” and “Bible-based Christian” who “supports traditional marriage” and “defends the unborn.”
From where I’m sitting, he comes across as the kind of guy who loves the book of Deuteronomy, especially the second half of chapter 22. He comes across as the kind of guy who cheerfully lays heavy burdens on others without giving much thought to helping them carry those burdens (see Matthew 23:1-4). And he appears to have entirely missed the point of James’ words:
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:15-17)
From where I’m sitting, this is the kind of guy who, though he says he believes “deeply in the protection of all life,” hasn’t given a nanosecond’s thought to the quality of life of millions of women of child-bearing age and, not incidentally, their children.
My point today is not political, despite the preceding polemic. The question that arose for me today is, “How the hell am I supposed to love this ass clown who worships the God I worship and quotes the same sacred text I do?”
My first reaction was rage. I stormed around our living room spewing rhetoric of my own and escalating my blood pressure until my husband took charge and dosed me with about eighteen mint Oreos and a cup of decaf. Considerably mellowed out fifteen minutes later, I did what most people I know these days do in moments of moral indignation: I posted a link to the Denver Post article on my Facebook page accompanied by this cartoon:
Then, I got the bright idea of creating a special Marian the Seminarian award along the lines of Keith Olberman’s “Worst Person in the World.” I was going to call it “The Love’a Jesus” award and after conferring it on Akin, I was going to give a special lifetime achievement award to Pat Robertson.
Over evening conversation and a starchy dinner of noodles and repurposed bruschetta topping, my dear husband’s moderating influence finally cut through the self-righteous static in my head and I started wondering what my heart’s response should be.
I believe Christians are called to love in a Christ-like way. Christ was a master at meeting people right where they were and responding to them, individually, in ways intended to bring them into closer relationship with their God. This does not mean that Jesus spent all of his time leaning in and patting people’s heads like some kind of first-century Oprah. The Prince of Peace angle was all well and good for some, but not all; some needed a different approach.
The poor needed comfort. The outcast needed compassion. The sick needed care. The oppressed needed tenderness. All throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus relating to these people in these ways.
The wealthy and the powerful, on the other hand, needed to be challenged. So we also see Jesus doing a lot of that, often vociferously.
A Christian who makes nicey-nice to the privileged and beats the crap out of the poor has gotten the message of Christ backwards. And a Christian who fails to speak truth to power and advocate for the disenfranchised is also missing the boat.
So, Citizen Akin, if you’re reading this[ii], allow me first to ask your forgiveness for referring to you as an ass clown. Allow me, then, to respectfully suggest that you reassess your position. This isn’t so much about whether or not life begins at conception. It’s about what kind of life you want to help provide for your fellow human beings. How are you going to help ensure that all of those children of rape grow up in loving families? Human life may very well begin at conception – I don’t know. But I damn well know that our responsibility toward one another, as Christians, doesn’t end at conception.
To behave otherwise is a radical miscarriage of the Christian faith.
[ii] Actually, if you ARE reading this, Citizen Akin, I’d love to know how you found your way here. Seriously, dude, this really isn’t your kind of blog. I might need to start marketing it differently.
© Marian the Seminarian