Bad Theology Leads to Terrorism
When all doesn't mean all... but it should
“When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” I am struck again by the simple, yet expansive, inclusiveness of this statement. Jesus is saying that by the mechanism of his crucifixion, all people will be drawn in.
In light of the events of this past week, with the Atlanta shooter’s church going on record with some truly terrible theology in an attempt to distance itself from the horrific actions of one of its members, it strikes me again just how essential embodied practice and praxis is in our lives and in our churches.
Despite their blustering attempts to say that their theology doesn’t make women responsible for men’s sexuality, the opposite is true. It may never be said in so many words, but the toxic purity culture where discussing sex is taboo, questions young people have never get answered, abstinence is preached but nothing more, and the idea that how girls and women dress is policed and preached on far more all tells men that women are responsible for both their sexual fulfillment and temptation. These notions have dialogued with our stymied view of sex in culture giving rise to the incel (involuntary celibate) movement whose main premise seems to be that they get to be violent because women won’t give them sex.
Add in layers of white supremacy into these evangelical churches and the language around missions to those “other” people: you know, the non-white, benighted heathens in other countries, and you start to see the toxic theological stew that the shooter grew up in. Now this doesn’t excuse his actions. Most people raised in this environment don't perpetuate mass shootings. But his actions are not unconnected from a system either, no matter how much his youth pastor describes confusion as to how this dedicated youth group kid who had a “heart for missions” somehow went so wrong.
And then in a frantic attempt to distance themselves from this, his church is now excommunicating him because he has shown he is not “truly regenerate.” Because evidently, only people who can keep up the perfect facade are allowed in their church. Again, not excusing his actions. Gay and trans kids get kicked out of their homes and churches on a regular basis and don’t go off and shoot people. But this church’s actions have been so completely opposite what they need to be at almost every turn, that we get a vivid picture of what’s wrong on so many levels with American Christianity.
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