Bird: The Fundamentalist War on Wokeness is a War on Christian Love

“My daughter recently came to me late one night, rather upset, and she showed me a video that her Bible study had been watching, and it was rather staggering. In the video, a certain Jeff Durbin – who I’ve never heard of, but looks like he’s trying to do a 2005 Mark Driscoll impersonation – said:

The woke evangelical whore is a slut who lies down in the middle a burning city, spreading her legs to the rioters and looters, spreading her legs to Marx, Engels, Alinsky, and Sorros …

In addition, Owen Strachan, who I have cordially met, has delivered a series of talks decrying wokeness and its influence on the evangelical churches. This has met with much commentary.

Okay, let me try to be that rare voice of reason in this asylum of politics and religion.

I know wokeness, believe me, I live in Melbourne, comically known as Melbingrad, one of the wokest cities in the world, where the Government is so progressive it makes California look like Alabama. The State govt. even created a second COVID wave by hiring security guards to operate quarantine facilities, who were trained in diversity awareness but not in infection control (which is why I’ve spent the last three months living under quasi martial-law).

I have written for political mags critiquing the progressive authoritarianism that demonizes the working class for voting for BREXIT and Trump. I’m an eager consumer of news outlets like Quillette, Heterodox Academy, SpikedOnline, and follow authors like Douglas Murray, who are dedicated to standing up to the bohemian bourgeois on subjects like freedom of speech and women’s rights. I also know very well that the progressive identity hierarchy divides everyone into either the oppressor or the oppressed, it imputes to ethnicities certain immutable moral characteristics, and (worst of all) it viciously attacks minorities if they do not obediently perform their roles in the identity hierarchy. For case in point, Vicky Osterweil’s book In Defense of Looting, makes the morally monstrous claim that looting Korean businesses is okay, because Koreans, like Jews, are the faces of capital. So you might expect me to be sympathetic to the anti-woke rhetoric of Durbin and Strachan, but I’m not, so let me explain why.

The whole anti-woke and anti-critical race theory trope strike me as not so much interested in opposing progressive authoritarianism and its divisive racial politics, as much as it serves to deny ethnic minorities have any grievances and white churches have any responsibility to do anything about it.

In my mind, acknowledging the reality of racism, discrimination, and injustice – whether historical, cultural, institutional – and determining to change it, does not require adherence to a Marxist narrative, or becoming Woke. Rather, it is the outworking of the liberal political tradition rooted in a Christian worldview where everyone should have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities. Where, to quote George Washington quoting Scripture, “Everyone will sit under their own fig tree and no-one will make them afraid.”

Churches and Christian leaders who are concerned with racism, police brutality, affordable healthcare, protecting refugees, acting on poverty, ending sex trafficking, urging sustainable environmental policy, ensuring LGBTI people have the right to work, as well as defending the unborn, promoting end-of-life care as an alternative to euthanasia, safeguarding religious freedom, opposing the gambling and pornographic industries, they are not whoring or compromised. They are simply doing what Christians have been doing for 2000 years which is loving their neighbour, remembering the poor, being the Good Samaritan, imitating Jesus, hating evil, loving good, and establishing justice in the gate of the city.

If you want to talk about evangelical whoring, it applies just as easily to churches who have tethered themselves to white supremacy, who have fattened their hearts in the days of slaughter, who messianize politicians and Caearize Jesus, who crave war like a baby craves its mother’s milk, who engage in a form of civil religion that combines the worst of racial prejudices with myths of national infallibility. That evangelical is the false prophet who leads others to bow down and worship the beast with feet made of Darwinian economics, legs comprised of corporations and colonies, a stomach of moral indifference to the suffering of others, arms made of confederacy and misogyny, and a head made of the military-industrial complex.

So don’t buy into the lie that acknowledging a history of racial injustice and prioritizing the pursuit of racial justice is wokeness. Don’t buy into the lie that all social justice is driven by Marxist ideology. It is not! It is what the prophets commanded, what Jesus expects of his followers, what the church has accepted as normal, and what constitutional democracies with a Christian heritage should aspire to, not in spite of, but precisely because of their Christian heritage.

Let me be clear, love of neighbour requires you to be concerned for the just treatment of your neighbour, whether they are Black, Hispanic, First Peoples, LGBT, migrant, Muslim, working-class, or even Baptist. Any derogation of a Christian’s duty to be concerned about the welfare and just-treatment of their neighbour is an attack on the biblical love command itself.”

-Michael F. Bird, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2020/10/the-fundamentalist-war-on-wokeness-is-a-war-on-christian-love/

Pastoral Reflections on Homophobia

Great Post from Michael Bird:

“In my next response to James Crossley’s allegations of “homophobia,” I thought I would narrate two stories, two experiences with gay men and women, which have shaped my perceptions and pastoral approach to homosexuality.

Story One: Violent Homophobia.

In a previous life time, I was a soldier in the Australian Army. One evening my section was on a boys night out on the town in Sydney, doing bit of a pub crawl. I was not a heavy drinker, so I was the only sober one in the group by 9. 00 p.m. In one of our excursions across a park, several of us walked passed a couple of gay men innocuously holding hands as they strolled through the park. As they walked by, however, one of my group (the highest ranked member in fact) began yelling all sorts of hateful things interspersed with vicious expletives at them. He pushed his way over towards them as the couple quickly hurried their pace. Sensing the potential for fruitless violence at two innocent citizens, I grabbed my superior (and let it be known that this guy was built like Sylvester Stallone in his 80s physique) and dragged him back towards the group, fortunately a few other guys stepped in to help me. Eventually the drunken aggressive man desisted from his attempted attack and rejoined us on our walk.

It was a vivid experience, one I’ve never forgotten. I felt sorry for that couple who could not even walk down a public park after dark without fear of physical attack due to no more than holding hands. From that experience I can say that I believe homophobia exists, it is real, it is based on nothing more than prejudice without reason, and it is morally wrong … and I say this as a Christian, one who tries to follow Jesus by loving my neighbor, even my gay neighbors walking down the street.

Story Two: The Ultimate Homophobia.

Back in 2002, just after it was announced that Rowan Williams was going to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, I led an ecumenical Bible study among a group of Christians from the Army. I remember vividly the small group in question: A fiery Lutheran warrant officer, a meek Pentecostal girl from transport corps, a liberal Catholic logistics Captain, and a softly spoken nominal Anglican lady working for the DoD. When we got to the subject of Rowan Williams and his views of sexuality, well, the conversation heated up, like a furnace. The Lutheran warrant officer earnestly made the point that the Bible condemns homosexuality, the liberal Catholic rebutted that sexuality is genetically innate and cannot be helped so one should not oppose it, the nominal Anglican lady said that gay people make great friends and are great at helping you decorate your house, while the Pentecostal girl just sat there quietly not saying anything. Well, the conversation, now argument, got hotter and hotter. Despite my best efforts to moderate the tone and change the subject, it just got worse. It turned into a yelling match with the Bible-bashing Lutheran trying to shout down the liberal Catholic on the one side and the nominal Anglican lady adding her two-cents every so often. The poor Pentecostal girl sat their very quiet, staring catatonically at the floor, wisely avoiding the melee.

Right before I was gonna yell “time out children, time to go home,” all of a sudden the Pentecostal girl loudly interjected with these words, “I used to be a Lesbian but Jesus saved me.” Right after that there was a silence you could cut with a knife. The Lutheran, the Catholic, the Anglican, and the poor Bible study leader, had nothing to say. What do you say to that? How do you follow that up? The young girl was engaged and a few months later was married and last I heard she was living a joyous heterosexual marriage with her new husband. In her story, homosexuality was something that she needed to be saved from, Jesus saved her from it, and she remained grateful for the transformation that had taken place in her life.

But I want to say that her story is the greatest homophobic epic that can ever be told. In her story, it is possible, indeed actual, for some (note the qualifier) gay men and women to be changed and transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, homosexual men and women can be liberated, rescued, and saved from homosexualilty … that is their testimony, not mine. Now I know that the reasons why people have same-sex desires are complex and range from biology to upbringing to sociology to psychology. I do not believe that the Pentecostal girl’s story would necessarily be true of all homosexual men and women. I don’t think homosexuality is a disease much less something that can be cured. Some Christians with same-sex desires struggle with it for all their lives (just as heterosexuals can struggle with certain desires and behaviors). I know that there are many ex-gays, but I also know that there are many ex-ex-gays too.

My point is that I have heard the testimony of men and women who consider themselves saved from homosexuality. Moreover, their words constitute the greatest act of betrayal of the gay-cause, the greatest act of treachery in gay-rights, and the greatest attack on efforts to deny that same-sex desires can change in people. In our secular and pansexual culture, ex-gay Christians are the worst and most vile homophobes in the universe because they announce that Jesus saved them from homosexuality and the Holy Spirit transformed them and empowered them to live a holy life without it.

Though society may call them homophobes, I am not ashamed to call them my brother or sister.”

-Michael F. Bird, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2012/04/pastoral-reflections-on-homophobia/