He was talking about Christians, Muslims and Jews – and included the pope, despite his reputation for being compassionate and inclusive:
Shortly after being elected, Pope Francis said of homosexual people, “Who am I to judge?”
This seemed revolutionary. If it is not for the head of the Roman Catholic church to judge, who on earth is to judge? And that seems to have been his point. For those who believe in a higher power, and who contend that God sets out moral rules, then meting out rewards or reprimands really should be the purview of God, not humankind, shouldn’t it?
In a clarification, however, the Pope let it be known that he was mostly saying in different words what well-intentioned people have said all along, that we should “love the sinner but hate the sin.”
This is Johnson’s conclusion:
Religious intolerance of both homosexuality and homosexuals led to mass murder last weekend and to so much pain and violence besides across the centuries. These ideas have no place in our contemporary world, no matter where they are written.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin” is merely a way-station on the bloody road to Orlando.
Omar Mateen cannot legitimately be said to have drawn on mainstream Muslim teachings, let alone on Christian teachings or practices.
Listen to what the pope said:
Or to what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery:
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. . . . Has no one condemned you? [No one, Lord.] Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more. John 8:7,11
(I would like to add that Pat Johnson has written many good articles on religion in the Vancouver Courier. Within the last month or two, for example, his profiles on Gisela Kreglinger (‘Wine and spirituality go hand-in-hand’), Ray Aldred (‘Indigenous people see land as inseparable from spirituality’) and Yonghua Ge (‘Where science meets theology and duality’) have all been very worthwhile.)
What has stood out to us in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting is how quickly we move from tragedy to blame, how easy it is to make enemies, to pounce on the guilty, to leverage suffering for our own agendas, and to do it all as a means to secure our own self-justification.
This particular event offers us a seemingly endless smorgasbord of scapegoat games:
- Muslims vs Christians
- Progressive vs conservative
- Gay rights vs religious liberty
- America vs ISIS
- Trump vs Hillary
- Gun owners vs Obama
If we think there is a right side to these binary, zero-sum game antagonisms, the cross of Jesus Christ still has work to do in our life, because we are still caught up in the scapegoating polarity of the satanic system of the world.
The good news is that we are free in Christ, not to pick the “correct” scapegoat, but to refuse to scapegoat anyone!
They (Tebbe and Sternke) go on to suggest that we should (1) repent (“Instead of looking for the “right” person to blame, we pause to reflectively ask what ‘us vs them’ antagonism am I caught up in?”); (2) lament (“The Psalms are full of good lamenting. Start there if you need some words to get you going.”) and (3) connect (Jesus “moved toward the people most likely to be scapegoated in his culture!”).
The church still has a long way to go in loving and welcoming, but we won’t get there by giving up the biblical standard for marriage. As Sam Allberry put it, “We don’t have a doctrine of homosexuality, we have a doctrine of marriage.”