Wednesday, February 14, 2024

A Greater Sin than Hypocrisy? (Tangential Response to "He Gets Us" Campaign)


I didn't watch the Superbowl on Sunday (except for a few minutes while we were out at dinner) and I have no regrets, so you may already be skeptical of any opinion I may have.

But I do like to think that I know Jesus and the Bible pretty well, and I've seen the "He Gets Us" ads before as well as many of the commentaries that have followed, so I figured I'd give my two cents.

There's been plenty of discussion about whether or not we can separate the message from the organization behind it, so I won't really go into that. It seems like the Bible has covered that pretty well, anyway:

James 2:26 

"For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."

Proverbs 20:11

"Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright."

1 John 3:18

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

Matthew 7:15-16

"Watch out for false prophets... Your will know them by their fruit."

So yeah. I don't have much to add on that front. Actions speak louder than words - even words with more than $10M dollars behind them.

But here's the thing for me. I'm not struck as much by the prospect of those behind these ads being hypocritical in their actions (let's be honest, we're all used to blatant hypocrisy in all areas of life by now; it's awful but no longer surprising) as I am by the possibility that they don't even realize that they're being hypocritical. That they could genuinely believe that there is no disconnect between the message of the commercial that they produced and the message of their actions and affiliations.

It grieves me to think that humanity's greatest sin may have become our inability to distinguish love from hate.

1 Corinthians 13 famously describes love to us - not romantic love, as many a wedding liturgy might suggest, but agape love, the sort of selfless, unconditional love that Jesus calls us to practice towards our fellow human beings:

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag (isn't boastful), it isn’t arrogant (inflated/puffed-up), it isn’t rude (doesn't act unbecomingly), it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable (easily provoked), it doesn’t keep a record of complaints (wrongs), it isn’t happy (delighted) with injustice (unrighteousness), but it is happy (rejoices) with the truth. Love puts up with (bears) all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.

This description of love can't possibly include spending millions of dollars trying to legally rescind another person's bodily autonomy or right to happiness. EVEN IF (and that's BIG "if") the things that are hot-button political issues today WERE the horrific sin that so many make them out to be (IF) I cannot fathom the sort of love described in 1 Corinthians responding by doing anything that would lead to any sort of suffering - even in the name of so-called "righteousness". 

It makes me table-flippingly angry to know that we've come to a point in our society where advocating for legislation that drives people to suicide or results in increased death rates can be perceived as a faithful and even "loving" action. That the old bait-and-switch tactics resulting in psychological trauma (and driving people further away from the Church, by the way) are seen as valid part of "speaking the truth in love". How in the hell (pun intended) have we gotten to a point where things that result in suicide, death, and psychological damage are acceptable ways to "show God's love to the world"?

The answer, of course, is that they're not. We're just wrong. 

If God is love, and we struggle to recognize the difference between love and hate, then maybe we should call a time out and ask if we're really the right person to be sharing our version of the gospel. Because something has obviously gotten lost in translation, and there's no evidence that we know what we're talking about at all. We cannot claim to be acting out of love when our actions wound. That is not love. Ever. Full stop.

Beautiful, beloved children of God: if anyone ever wounds you in the name of their faith, know that, no matter who they might claim gives them the authority to do it, it's sure as hell not Jesus. Whoever denies a part of who God created you to be or offers criticism instead of compassion in the most difficult moments of your life has forgotten the love of Christ and replaced it with something entirely different. I may not always get it right, but I promise to keep learning and praying and testifying and teaching the best that I can until the love that the Church claims to espouse and the love that Christ taught are finally the same thing again.

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