Sunday, September 6, 2015

“Jesus Christ Socialist”

Hello all you party people out there in cyberspace, I have great news for you; today you get a break from me and all my inane ramblings. First off, thank you for visiting The Insane Asylum, now sit back, get comfortable and please welcome my very special guest Mr. Kevin Hightower to our ward. He’s not looking to just rock the boat here, he’s planning on capsizing that some beach! When he’s through, the Titanic will look like child’s play.

Kevin Hightower
Writer/Journalist from Houston age 37

Let me start you off with what the "Religious Right Wing" in America would have you believe is an oxymoron. I am a Christian and I don't believe it is a sin to be gay or to hand out a gay marriage license. I know for a fact that for some people who identify as gay didn't choose to be gay. I know that God is love incarnate and that he doesn't punish his creation for being his creation. Cover your ears because this is going to ruffle some feathers. God created gay people.

And you can quote things from Leviticus and Deuteronomy to me all day but it's going to fall on deaf ears because I consider myself a "Red Letter Christian." It's not a denomination and we have no brick-and-mortar churches that I am aware of. It means that I have a Bible with all of Jesus' words highlighted in red. Before I ever read the Bible in its entirety I had to simplify things for myself and I decided the way to demystify what this religion was all about was to study the words and deeds of the man it is named for.

When I focused in on nothing but the words of Jesus Christ I made a stunning realization. The Jesus on TV and in too many churches is not anything like the guy I read about in the Bible. The real oxymoron here is "Religious Right Wing." Why? Because Jesus was a liberal and a socialist.

I think there's two different views of Christianity at play here. The one that gets all the media attention is more often than not contrary to the deeds and action of Jesus Himself.

When I was eight-years-old my dad told me my mother was going to burn in hell because she was raised Catholic. He described in graphic detail the pain of being burned alive forever and ever. I was pretty perceptive for my age and by that point my dad gave me the creeps already. But he made me promise not to tell or I'd be in huge trouble so I held it inside for almost a year until I became a pale shadow of a once-happy child. I barely slept that year because the night brought dreams of my mother, the one I trusted and has always believed in me, and stood by me, screaming in flames.

No eight-year-old should ever have to bear that burden and if I had a time machine I'd take it straight back to that little boy and grab him, hug him and tell him it's not true. This was my dad's way of being Christian. Jesus said to love one another. There's no verse about scarring your child for life.

What it did do was lead me astray later in life because I wanted no part of a God that would send the most patient and kind woman I've ever met to a pit of fire. Jesus did say woe to anyone who leads one of these little children away from me and that it would be better for my dad to have a millstone hung around his neck and thrown into the sea than to turn a child away from Jesus.

Finally, the lack of sleep and nervousness became so noticeable that my mom, aunt and uncle literally wondered if I was being abused.  And I was mentally being abused. I broke and finally told them. They reassured me no such thing would happen. My uncle had a private talk with my dad and I didn't hear all of it but I know it involved him not living to tell about ever trying something like that again. My uncle was ready to be Jesus' millstone.

So when I grew older I despised the religion. Then during a troubled time I set about reading the entire Bible cover to cover looking for answers and have done so twice. I learned that all that time I spent reading the Old Testament was summed up in a sentence or two by Jesus. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the whole of the law and the prophets (The Old Testament). In other words if you just do those things, because of Jesus’ sacrifice you have fulfilled God’s law.

To my great surprise focusing in on just the words Jesus said revealed that He was nothing like the Jesus paraded around by "Fundamentalists" and "Conservatives." As a matter of fact I found that He was quite the Liberal in His day, with the Pharisees and Sadducees being the Conservative establishment. He had liberal ideas like giving to the poor and not concerning yourself with whether or not they waste the money (welfare, food stamps). He healed the sick freely without asking anything in return (universal healthcare). He was not a Capitalist at all; He believed in the redistribution of wealth and commanded His followers to give all their possessions to the poor and follow Him.

When asked if His people should pay taxes to Rome he told them to give Caesar what is due to Caesar and give God what is due to God. Yet today the Republicans and the Tea Party claim to be the Christian Party while insisting we shouldn’t be taxed, it’s ok for 1% of the population to have 99% of the money because they worked harder than you, healthcare shouldn’t be free and you have no right to it and welfare programs for the poor who really need it, especially children must be abolished because of the few who take advantage.

Don’t take my word for it. Go read the Republican platform, the Tea Party Platform and then the red words in the Bible and tell me I’m wrong.

And now this court clerk Kim Davis thinks that she will go to Hell for handing out a marriage license to gay people. Even if you insist on believing that homosexuality is a sin, as a Christian you should be well aware that if Heaven and Hell were based on our deeds we'd all be in trouble. To say that you can go to Hell for acting any certain way is to deny Jesus' sacrifice altogether.

If she found this morally objectionable she can say it was because of her religion, but she'd be wrong. If you go with the idea that it is sinful to be in a gay marriage then all you have to do to keep your morals in line is not be in a gay marriage yourself. The same freedom that afford people to believe and do what they feel is right morally, like people who want to be in a loving gay marriage, is the same freedom that allows her to practice her version of Christianity however misguided it might be.

And to those who think she can't be fired or punished, you absolutely can force someone within your employ to do something they find morally objectionable because they have the freedom to seek employment elsewhere.

I don't begin to think that I have the capacity as a human to fathom the mind of God but there is one thing I am pretty sure about. He is no different than us in the respect that He wants people to love Him because they want to, not because they are forced to, which is why we have free will. So I would think God would find it objectionable for a country to force its citizens to worship Him because they wouldn't be doing it out of love, but at the threat of jail.

Would you want someone to say they love you at gunpoint? Or would you prefer they love you because you are you? If God wanted to make mindless drones to say they loved Him he surely could have done so. God doesn't want a Christian nation, he wants religious freedom. He wants you to love Him because you want to, not because Kim Davis says you have to.

What people who practice her modern brand of Christianity mistake in Jesus' words is when He says to let your light shine among men. She would have you believe this means wagging your tongue and telling other people what to do to not be sinful. The people I have met that truly let their light shine and touched my life are the ones who did so in their own actions. Love God and Love one another as yourself. Love your enemy. A real Christian never has to tell you they are one; you can tell by the way they treat you.

That same crazy dad of mine is on his 10th marriage. I never felt comfortable around him for obvious reasons so visits were sparse as I became an adult. I began to notice that wife after wife were extremely rude and short with me and I never understood why. That is until wife number nine came along. She was under the impression that she was wife number three but that was actually my mother who divorced him 20 years earlier.

She was extremely kind and warm. When they inevitably divorced I made contact to express my appreciation. She told me that my dad would tell her I was a criminal and a terrible person to explain why I rarely came around. Eight wives treated me poorly based on his lies. The ninth never treated me any way but kindly. She didn’t judge people based on another person’s words. She didn’t judge at all. She was truly letting her light shine among men.

Ironically my dad once stood up in a church service in front of this wife and talked about how terrible it was that churches were starting to let women speak openly in services. I’d much rather have heard what she had to say.

When I first started my freelance writing business from home I felt very alone and didn't know how it would work out. I read a lady's blog online who claimed to be making six figures and all I had to do to find out how (as if the $40,000 I spent on my BA in Journalism plus all the places I'd been published weren't enough) was give her $1,000 for her to coach me plus pay $40 a month to be a part of her message board with other writers. I wondered why if she was doing so well as a freelance writer, did she need my $1,000.

I wasn't going to spend any more money on this writing thing. The talent is there and the hard work had been done. I just needed guidance from someone who'd gone the freelance route. I started to correspond with a guy from one of the companies I contract through and we became friends.

He's sat up many late nights getting me out of jams before deadlines, teaching me the freelance ropes and introducing me to people who started sending me work. He never charged a penny. He never gets annoyed, and he even gives me advice in my personal life. He gives and he gives and when he's done with that he gives some more. So I never had to ask what his beliefs were. His light shines brightly among men. He's one of the best living examples I have ever seen of what Jesus said a Christian should act like. And he's gay. That's something to really think about if you count yourself among those who think you can't be gay and a Christian.

If everyone let their own light of kindness shine instead of protesting other's actions like Westboro Baptist Church, Kim Davis, Chick-Fil A and so many others, the world would be an awesome place. They spit at what they deem as sinners and call them vile names. But the man they claim to worship ironically was criticized in his time for eating and spending the majority of his time with sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors. Why? Because the well have no need for a doctor, but sick people do.

In Westboro Baptist's Bible, apparently their Jesus ran around with signs at the funerals of prostitutes that said "The only good whore is a dead whore." In Sunday school their children sing "Jesus hates you this I know, for Westboro tells me so."

If Jesus were on Earth today instead of 2000 years ago, I truly believe that people like Kim Davis, Westboro Baptist, and the extreme right of the Republican Party would be the very ones nailing Him to a cross.

And it would be all televised live on Fox News with Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity doing the commentary, followed shortly by another investigative report into the President's birth certificate.

God Bless America.

Kevin Hightower