Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And this is why I feel the need to be "evangelical"

The UCC website reported recently on a study released by The Barna Group about young people's attitudes on Christianity ( It's not pretty, but it's not surprising. One of the reasons I feel called to ministry is to share my relationship with a God who loves all of us, and to share what may seem to many as a radical Christian faith.

For a long time, I was one of those young people who didn't want to call myself Christian. The majority of Christians that are in the media, that get seen by the general audience, don't represent my beliefs. It is no wonder the young people in our country see Christians as anti-gay and narrow-minded--those are the only voices we hear. We hear about male Christian pastors caught in relationships with other men who after a few weeks of therapy are "cured" of their homosexuality (nevermind the fact that adultery was committed). We hear about bishops of a major mainline Protestant denomination deciding to "exercise restraint" and not consecrate partnered gay bishops, as well as promising not to authorize "any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions." We often hear of prominent Evangelical pastors preaching on the "immorality" of hosts of things from Harry Potter to education about contraceptives.

And this is why I feel the call to ministry, and this is why I call myself Christian, and this is why I call myself evangelical (notice the lowercase "e"). Evangelical means telling the Good News. A group of Christians have co-opted this title to basically mean bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ as Savior--or else. Well, I'm taking it back--the name Christian, the title evangelical. I want to share the Good News of Jesus who shared meals with outcasts and "sinners." I want to share the Good News of the realm of God in which there is food for the hungry, freedom of the captives, and justice for the oppressed. I want to share a love of God which is so powerful, so encompassing that we can ever do anything so bad that it would make God stop loving us (this is not to say God does not get angry or pass judgment, however--but that's another topic for another time). I want to share a faith that welcomes the imperfect, the doubting, the questioning, the hesitant.

And most of all, I want to let people--and especially young people-- know that not all forms of Christianity are anti-gay, judgmental, and hypocritical. Yes, all organized religion has its problems and shortcomings, and we are no different. But there are Christians out there, like me and like many of the people I know, worship with, and go to school with, who embrace a much more welcoming message.

And we need to speak up.

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