“I want so-called “progressive” Christians to RT the following: It’s no sin to be in a homosexual relationship. I support same-sex marriage.” I saw the tweet scroll across my screen as I browsed through the webosphere on a Monday morning. The challenge came from a prominent Atheist blogger/tweeter. I thought for a second of retweeting it myself, but stopped. The topic of homosexual relationships is very touchy. I do consider myself a “Progressive Christian” and while I support equal rights and treatment of homosexual individuals, I’m still formulating my own thoughts about the “sinfulness” of the issue and don’t feel comfortable making so bold a statement. What struck me however was in the 16 hours since it was originally tweeted it had been retweeted 21 times and favorited 3. Apparently there were other progressive Christian’s who had no qualms with taking a stand.
As conservative theology and right wing Christianity seems to be taking a stronger public hold of policy I’ve discovered a disturbingly and equally extreme new group of Christians. They call themselves “Liberal Christians” or “Leftwing Christians”. They make statements like…
“The authenticity and authority of the Bible is debatable”
“Jesus was a great teacher, that’s all”
“Prophecy and miracles don’t/can’t happen”
“Heaven and Hell are what we make it. They aren’t places after death”
In reading the blogs, comments, and general statements from these groups the thought keeps coming up “What really is a Christian?” Are Christian’s those who believe in a 6000 year old earth made in 7 literal days where the Bible is the incontrovertible word of God, Jesus is the son of that God, and we are all here to disciple others to His teachings in preparation for the second coming? Or are Christian’s those who believe science has shown the inaccuracies of the Bible, God may exist but is quite passive in our lives, and Jesus was simply a good teacher providing us with insight how to live in harmony with our fellow man?
Jesus loved everyone and all you need is love. The problem I struggle with is whether you take the literal definition of “Christian” (Like Christ) or whether you take the broader sociopolitical definition. Can you call yourself a Christian in the same definition that you call yourself a follower of Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, or Bono? At what point do you take away so much of who Jesus said he was, that we miss the point of what he was teaching?
While I’m no gun-toting, homophobic, Bible thumping, right wing, conservative. I struggle with the extreme to which those who wish to disassociate themselves with those ideals have gone. Liberal Christian’s frighten me to the extent they sound very much like Agnostics who wish to use the teachings of Jesus as a roadmap to live by. Their interpretation of grace is so extreme that essentially there is no “sin”. We have gotten to a point where either everything is a sin or nothing is a sin. The Bible is either infallible or a good story.
To me progressive Christianity isn’t a departure from the core Biblical roots. It shouldn’t be thought of in the same sense as progressive politics where it means you are a step in a new direction. If we’re not moving toward God (progressing) we are moving away from God (regressing). Can you call yourself a “Progressive Christian” when you find yourself actually moving further from God? That thought should keep us progressing to a more open-minded sense of direction where science, debate, and discovery have a place in our spiritual growth and neither Liberal nor Conservative extreme has all the answers. In religious terms, Benedictine Monks are progressive not hipsters sitting at Starbucks debating how they “love Jesus, but hate religion”.