Maybe I’m a flaming liberal. After all, I have expressed doubt about homosexuality, and I wasn’t on board with the one nation under God. Now I’m questioning the Ten Commandments. Something must be wrong with me. Growing up in a Baptist church (“every time a drum beats, a demon gets out of hell”) should produce less discerning citizens.
Alabama state officials moved the Ten Commandments monument yesterday, amid wails and prayers. But less obvious than the righteous grandstanding is the burning hypocrisy. Christians are making a wonderful show of support for a hunk of concrete. But despite their approval of commands to love God and obey your parents, they seem to have forgotten another command to love thy neighbor as thy self.
Melinda Maddox initiated the lawsuit against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore over the 5,000-pound concrete monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments. As a result, she’s faced eye for an eye justice, in the form of threatening phone calls, pellet guns shooting out windows of her house, and a boycott of her law firm that forced her to leave town. Maddox has become an outcast at the hands of people who claim to love one another.
I can only hope it’s a minority of the intolerant that are making Maddox’s life a living hell, but those who hate their enemies are outshining those who love their enemies in Alabama. If we acknowledge God with the ten commandments, why aren’t we acknowledging God with our actions?
Speaking of troubling actions, the entire installation of this monument is sketchy. Under the cover of darkness Moore and his supporters lugged the concrete block into the state judicial building. They didn’t obtain the proper approvals or go through the required channels. They took matters into their own hands, and the next day bragged about their forced government acknowledgment of God in a press conference. It seems odd that the Bible continually speaks of living in the light and leaving behind deeds of darkness. Acting honestly and in the open is valued, yet Moore seems to have no problem installing his monument under cover of darkness. If his cause is so just, why didn’t he install it in view of the world?
Christians have made an idol of publicly acknowledging God. I’ve learned the hard way that a bumper sticker slogan about your faith means absolutely nothing if your actions don’t back it up. “In God We Trust” means nothing on our currency if it’s not backed up by a people who actually trust in God. But rather than be outraged by our nation serving money over God, we’re outraged at attempts to remove a hypocritical phrase. American Christians, and people in general, are so focused on the outward expression that we completely miss what’s really going on.
I’ve heard so many Christians that get fired up over the Ten Commandments debate, or the pledge of allegiance debate. It’s all building up to the ultimate question of how much religion the government can support. Christians freak out, reminding us that this nation was founded by Christians, therefore it’s OK to acknowledge those roots. But what they forget is that this nation was founded by religious refugees who hoped to escape the religious persecution back home. The goal was to establish a country of religious freedom. With today’s pluralism and diverse religious beliefs, you’d be hard pressed support any religion in any way without offending someone. In the process we lose a public acknowledgment of God, but we gain tolerance: a healthy love and respect for one another that allows us to live together.
What’s a better witness to your non-Christian neighbor? Rallying to keep a God your neighbor doesn’t serve on our currency, or respecting your neighbor enough to let “In God We Trust” go? One seems to open doors while another slams them. We’re like the Pharisees, obsessed with praying on the streets and tithing before others, while Jesus calls us white-washed tombs: we’ve focused on the exterior adornments of faith but neglected the heart. Sadly for those who need God, it’s an outpouring of the heart, not exterior adornments, that make Christianity contagious.