All these people self-identify as Roman Catholic Christians:
- Amy Coney Barrett
- Joe Biden
- Mel Gibson
- Donna Brazile
- Sonia Sotomayor
- Jimmy Fallon
- Clarence Thomas
- Nancy Pelosi
- Melania Trump
- Andrew Cuomo
- William Barr
29% of the humans currently living on planet Earth consider themselves to be some kind of Christian. And even since the days of Jesus, there has never been universal agreement on who is The Right Kind of Christian. Seriously – read the Greek Testament if you disagree.
Christians have historically killed each other for 2000 years when they’ve disagreed on what a Real Christian believes. Ironic, right?
I remember the first time I was told that I wasn’t a “real Christian.” I was a college freshman who had several points against me: I was raised Presbyterian and baptized as an infant. I didn’t not speak in tongues. I did not belong to Campus Crusade for Christ (an unfortunate name which has since been changed to “Cru”) or Intervarsity. I was not on Young Life staff – although I’d been a part of Young Life in high school. I was not in the cool Bible study in my college dorm. I did worship with The Chapel Hill Bible Church – so that counted for something. And when I talked with the lead pastor about going to seminary, he didn’t say “no.” He believed that God might even call women to professional ministry – although he kept such beliefs to himself.
The consideration of Amy Coney Barrett as the next Supreme Court Justice will not be about whether or not she is the Right Kind of Christian – although some are trying to make it appear to be about that. It’s actually about politics.
We choose our politics – most of the time – based not on what the Bible says but on what we already believe. Who is The Right Kind of Christian?
I’ll put myself out on a limb and say that I believe that being a Christian means being Pro-Life. The tricky part is: What does it mean to be Pro-Life?
- You believe abortion is wrong in all circumstances?
- You believe capital punishment is wrong in all circumstances?
- You believe health care is a human right for all people?
- You believe safe housing is a human right for all people?
- You believe that healthy food is a human right for all people?
- You believe in giving safe harbor to victims of war?
- You believe in giving refuge to victims of natural disasters?
- You believe in giving medicine to all who are sick?
Show me a person to believes each of those things and I’ll show you someone who is consistently Pro-Life. I have a hard time believing you are Pro-Life if you want to outlaw abortions and you are also in favor of the death penalty. I have a hard time believing you are Pro-Life if you support civilians owning assault rifles. I have a hard time believing you are Pro-Life if you oppose health care for all.
I can’t explain my own inconsistencies and maybe you can’t either. We are all hypocrites.
We also can’t fully judge Amy Coney Barrett’s identity as anti-racist or racist, anti-feminist or feminist, pro-life or not pro-life based on the skin color of her children, her law degree, or her stand on abortion alone. What’s her story? And how will her story influence the stories of others who come before her in court?
When people tell me they are against abortion, I think of the story of the anti-abortion member in my first church who asked me to help her 14 year daughter get an abortion after a boy raped her at a party. When people tell me they are against the death penalty, I think of the family in my hometown who protested against the death penalty in Raleigh until their child was kidnapped and found dead. When people tell me that they don’t want “those people” moving into their neighborhood, I think of the story of the Pages of Flossmoor – an elegant, extraordinary couple who were the first African Americans to move into my neighborhood and how any of us would be unspeakably fortunate to have them as neighbors. When people tell me that they don’t want “those people” in their country, I think about the two young men from Ghana who worshipped with us in Virginia and longed for a safe home here in the States. As I said in my letters to Immigration, I would trust them with my children’s lives – and we did.
We need to hear each other’s stories. Relationships make us wiser and they also make us more compassionate. It’s hard to vilify people when we know their stories.
And sometimes Christians simply disagree. Nobody has cornered the market on God’s Truth – except One.
We Christians are excellent at judging each other to be heretics but this is not our role. It is our role to judge people regarding other things though:
- Who is best suited to receive a lifetime appointment to judge others in the highest courts?
- Who is best suited to serve and protect our communities?
- Who is best suited to govern the people in hopes of promoting liberty and justice for all?
I am not the Right Kind of Christian for some people and that’s okay. Your judgement doesn’t concern me as much as God’s judgement.
And in the meantime, we who self-identify as Christian must discern whom we will judge to best serve our nation according to what we believe is right in accordance with what we believe Jesus calls us to be and do. At least this is my hope.
Image of Roman Catholics through history. Source.