A Sermon Preached by the Rev. Susan Allison-Hatch
Sometimes I just want to scream, “That ain’t Christian.” Yesterday was one such moment. Returning from my morning bike ride, I picked up the local paper and saw the headline, “Child With Gay Parents Can’t Enroll At School.” The article goes on to explain that the school is a Christian school right here in Albuquerque. A Christian school turning away a child because his parents are gay. That ain’t Christian.
And neither is firing a beloved teacher when school officials—Christians all—discover her partner is a woman. Again right here in Albuquerque.
Nor is suggesting that LGBT people be rounded up and placed in two pens surrounded with electric fences as a Baptist minister suggested not long ago in North Carolina.
Nor is denying a man and a woman, both members of the same congregation, the right to marry where they worship because they are black and the congregation is predominantly white.
That ain’t Christian.
Time and again people in the name of Christ act counter to the Gospel. Sometimes it’s an individual—sometimes ordained, sometimes not—who makes an outrageous claim in the name of Christ. Sometimes it’s a whole congregation. Remember those folks from Westboro Baptist Church who protest at the funerals of LGBT people killed in service to our country. Sometimes it’s the hierarchy of an entire denomination setting aside our fundamental connection to one another in the whole family of God, offering a place at the table for one part of the family of God while turning other members of the family away..
That ain’t Christian.
The writer of the Letter to the Ephesians makes it plain. We are all members of the family of God. In his Letter to the Galatians Paul writes, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 28).
Divisions amongst God’s children have no place in the household of God.
That ain’t Christian.
And neither is cutting aid to the hungry and the homeless, the poor and the sick, as budget proposals now before Congress suggest.
But we live in a democracy and folks have the right to make proposals, folks have a right to their own interpretations. Who are we to condemn them?
We can’t. We shouldn’t. We ought not. Until they make their claims in the name of Christ. Then we have an obligation to speak out. Then we must say loud and clear, “That ain’t Christian.”
Remember what Jesus said in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats:
“Come you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?....” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these
who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 34-38, 40)
It ain’t Christian to turn your back on the most vulnerable.
It ain’t Christian to cut funds for food stamps or job training or Head Start.
It ain’t Christian to fund tax cuts for the wealthy on the backs of the least of God’s children.
And yet the Church is often silent in the face of such injustice. No—that’s not what I mean. That’s not being fair to the Church.
Often our Church, and others too, preach the Gospel of God’s deep compassion for all God’s children.
Often our Church, and others too, issue a clarion call to serve the least of God’s children.
But too often we keep silent in the face of others’ distorted and perverted versions of the Gospel. We don’t call them out. And that ain’t Christian.
The German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, when we encounter the Gospel perverted we cannot keep silent.
To those who would exclude a child because of whom his parents love, we must say loud and clear, “That ain’t Christian.”
To those who would deny the sacraments to others because of their God-given identity we must say, “That ain’t Christian.”
To those who would turn their backs on the poor, the weak, the outsider, we must say, “That ain’t Christian.”
We can do no less.