I love having more moderate people in my life. My husband is a rational, moderate person theologically and politically. His views function as a way for me to touch base outside of my progressive media sources. My brain tends to operate in black and white and I feel so comfortable with a binary world. Not in the gender or orientation way, but in the "good versus bad" system. I want to be a good guy and I want to fight and beat the bad guys. Don't we all? When I was a conservative Christian, I was trained to see "the world" (everyone who didn't believe in Jesus) as bad. I was supposed to be so good that they would wonder what was "different" about me and ask me about Jesus. And in the meantime, I would make sure to talk about him a lot and condemn any behavior I thought he would want me to in hopes that somehow that would convert people through shame and rejection.
Now that I'm a progressive Christian, who was really hurt by a conservative church, I really want them to be the bad guys. I want my side of the street to be tidy and tolerant and kind and I want their side to be ignorant and judgmental and bigoted. Even writing this, my brain is screaming, "But they are! Look at their politics! Look at their theology!" And there is some truth to the way my brain wants to categorize this. As I stated in my recent shaming post, with the majority of evangelicals voting for him, there is legitimate ground to stand on here.
Unfortunately though, there are good and bad people on both sides. There are people in leadership using others for power and profit. There are judgmental and intolerant people on both sides (please let's not argue about tolerating intolerance...I can't handle it). I really want the Democratic party to be better than the Republican party. And frankly, in some ways, it is. But it's still corrupt, still a power grab, still messy.
I hate that. I really want things to be clear. There is so much tension in our country and I really want the sides to be drawn in a linear, firm way. Certainly, in cases like Charlottesville, the lines are pretty clear cut. Do you support Nazis or not? But there is no savior in American politics. There is no savior in our culture. And as a former evangelical, that is really disorienting. I've been trained to look for leadership and to follow it blindly with loyalty and faith. Instead, I'm going through the foggy process of recognizing that no leadership is without fault and yet, I still need to act. I need to lead myself.
I'm attending an ICE Vigil at a detention center this morning in Portland with Penny (Macy started school). As I was thinking about the event at the breakfast table I thought, not all people in detention centers are innocent. Some people belong there because they are trying to hurt our country, commit crimes, take advantage of a broken system, etc. And yet, I will hold space there. Why? Because even in the gray, I choose not to hang my hat on the possibility of mercy being wrong. I will risk defending undeserving people rather than risk leaving innocent people without advocacy. This is EXACTLY why I affirm LGBTQI as a Christian (take that, Nashville Statement!) Of course, I believe I'm right - that God loves everyone and made everyone on purpose, that sexuality is part of that. But if I'm wrong, I'd rather be wrong because I love people. If the line-drawers are wrong, think about how many people they've rejected in the name of God unnecessarily! I cannot and will not do that.
There are SO MANY innocent people in detention centers across this country. Separated from their children, not given an opportunity to even prove their citizenship (seriously, this is happening), for weeks, months, years. And so I will go and I will protest. Not for the undocumented people who might be "bad" but for the possibility that they are, in fact, just like me. Gray. Precious. Loved.