I got really angry the other night. I was at a friends house and I made the mistake of openly questioning the Church’s traditional teaching on homosexuality. What happened next was a two hour severe tongue lashing, lasting well into the dead of night.
Questions concerning a variety of interpretations, cultural circumstances, varying translations, and the Church’s notorious failures in understanding scripture (flat earth, heliocentrism, manifest destiny, the genocide of native Americans, anti-semitism, the rights of women, slavery, interracial marriage and so so much more)- Anything, it seemed, was irrelevant. He said as much.
“Look, I love the sinner, but I HATE the sin. Same way I love adulterers and rapists and so on.”
“Gays just weird me out- I believe that to be, like, the Holy Spirit convicting me or something.”
“I haven’t had to deal with this much any way. All I know is what God says and anything different than that… well, is just not God.”
Needless to say, I didn’t kiss him goodnight.
I darted out into the frigid dark like Hell’s worst child.
When I was little I knew that anger was wrong. On my bedroom wall I taped up the verse “Be slow to get angry” and I looked at it every time I threw a mean tantrum. Most of the time, I needed those words. My fits were just growing pains on the way to adulthood. They were unbecoming of a Christian secure in his seat at the table.
The real trouble with anger, I learned, is letting it cook too long. Taking its hand as it leads us down to the dark cabin of bitterness.
But maybe, if just for a spell, it can be the splash of water our hearts desperately need. Maybe sometimes, we’re just not angry enough. Maybe growth isn’t possible until we scorch the earth.
And that’s exactly what I did.
I went into my room, kicked the Bible off my bed and scratched away at my journal. I thought through all the things I wish I would’ve said and made a script for the second round. I thought through all the ugliness in Christianity today and wondered how the gospel had become such a vapid desolate space. Toxic to the atypical. The cupboard inside of me where I stored all of the things that I thought made faith real was billowing out onto the floor. Evangelicalism, Sola Scriptura and Fundamentalism all breaking to bits on the ground.
Whatever faith remained inside was limping.
Until it wasn’t.
I picked up the Book and ran my fingers across its pages. So many long lost places of refuge, so much calm imparted. Flickering lights, marking moments when my life changed. And abruptly, I felt myself drift away.
It was like a swelling gale sending the air back to my lungs. A sweet smell from the days when my faith had muscle. Doing His part to clean me out. Turning over tables like He was back in the temple. Knocking and breaking to get to me. Stirring the fire and rhythm and fight back into my soul. Reassuring me that He is who He said He was and that I will forever and always be His boy. That’s it.
And before I knew it, my knees hit ground to a symphony of Song of Songs 2 and whispered promises of I’m not like them. Images emerge of Hagar at the desert spring, rediscovering the God that Sees Me. All of me, adoring me. This old love that never loses its freshness.
And it hit me then and there that this holy ground, my acre, my faith, was never supposed to be overrun with such waste in the first place. Their swarming theology and their snap judgments were never going to give me this kind of peace. This kind of freedom.
This space is for my wild and weary heart,
Where I separate the fraud from the Father.
And find so much relief in that discrepancy.
Anger attacks anything that wars against the world we know. Sometimes we are wrong and anger is just an obstacle in our journey to becoming better. But there are times when we’re not wrong and anger is our loyalty under duress. It is our instinctive resistance towards anything that twists what we know in our gut to be true. Whatever rips away at our redemption.
In two hours my tender loving Abba became a mean old drunk. And the shifting of the earth, the desecration of that relationship, plucked at every vein my body.
Until He emerged again with His heart beating to the same rhythms and aches as my own. One that calls out Come away, my love, my lovely one come! the winter has past, the rains are over and gone.
And the anger recedes as I am overcome by His adoration.
Simple and more than enough.