Tuesday, May 31, 2011


"I can never know beforehand how God's image should appear in others. That image always manifests a completely new and unique form that come solely from God's free and sovereign creation. To me the sight may seem strange, even ungodly. But God creates every man in the likeness of His Son, the Crucified. After all, even that image certainly looked strange and ungodly to me before I grasped it."

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sow and Reap

Like many, I've been following the situation in Uganda since the "kill the gays" bill was first introduced there over a year ago. While that bill thankfully appears to have been shelved for the time being, it's still a fact that life is very difficult for sexual minorities in nearly all parts of Africa

In light of the massive amount of money and effort that American evangelicals have poured into Uganda, the very existence of this bill reflects directly (and negatively) on their efforts. I don't say that by any means to invalidate everything that sincere and caring Christians have done with the intent of helping the people of Africa, but it's a stark reminder that our actions don't always produce the results we intended.

Growing up I heard and read many stories of missionary work in Africa. It was exciting to see how rapidly the Christian church was growing throughout the sub-Saharan portions of the continent. In my own mind (as in the minds of many evangelicals), the eventuality of a Christian majority in numerous countries across Africa could only produce a brighter future for all the people there. Once Christians acquired the reins of government and instituted rule based on biblical principles, they would eventually transform their nations into free and prosperous lands.

Or so the line of thinking went. If anything, Africa is poorer than ever and its governments no less corrupt on the whole. That's not to say that the African church has accomplished nothing - merely that there, as here, Christians who enter politics tend to be corrupted by the system rather than becoming the agents of change that they dreamed of being. The compassion modeled by Christ becomes something altogether different when administered by the iron fist of government power.

Thus we see, once again, how rule by religious moralists tends toward tyranny as surely as the more blatant oppression of an overt dictator. There's always an evil to be stamped out (by violence if necessary), whether today's devil comes in the form of heresy, witchcraft, alcohol, wealth or homosexuality. The Ugandan government only takes such thinking to its logical conclusion when its leaders propose execution for anyone convicted of being gay.

Where the example of Christ teaches us that the ends of the Gospel are achieved through voluntary, self-sacrificial acts of compassion, the ends of any political agenda can only be achieved through some form of coercion. And while the existence of government is a necessary evil in the world we inhabit, the power it represents is a heady intoxicant that seduces those who wield it with the notion that they can solve the world's problems by employing that power against those perceived to be part of the problem.

Thus did the religious right abandon the way of Christ for utopian notions of turning the United States back into the "Christian nation" it never really was, and they enthusiastically exported that idea to the receptive churches of Africa. But where they hoped to see 2 Chronicles 7:14 put into action as Christians assumed the reins of power, they have instead ended up with a living example of Matthew 23:15:

You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

A bit belated, but the video should be just as entertaining a day or two late...