A couple months ago, I saw the Heaven is for Real trailer in theaters, and it brought tears to my eyes. Not from joy, nor expectation, nor from an overwhelming sense of goodness.
Instead, the sudden, surge of emotion pulling at my ribcage came of desperation.
Most Christians, I imagined, should have been getting chills of excitement to see such an inspirational story become a full-length movie that will probably reach millions, spreading the truth about God. To see Christianity boldly permeating the highly competitive film industry. Perhaps I should have reveled in the anticipation of a strong story of hope and reconciliation.
But it was with a deep sense of grief that I watched the wholesomeness flash across the screen.
I had read an article earlier that afternoon. Honey Grahams had released a commercial involving diverse types of families, including a homosexual couple. And, as with any controversial subject, they received quite a bit of flack for it. So they decided to turn the hateful comments into something beautiful. In a subsequent video, a couple of artists took all the negative comments printed out on pieces of paper, rolled them up, and stood them up to arrange them into the word “Love.” This word, then, was surrounded by a sea of all the positive feedback they had received, which, rolled up and stood on end like the previous words, took up almost the rest of the floor around the word “Love.” The main component of families, they argued, is love.
I was inspired that they could respond so gracefully to the hate.
But then I made the mistake of reading the comments, and the hatred there blew my mind. Hatred toward homosexuals, hatred toward Christians. The caustic discourse just continued on and on, and anyone who tried to step in was chewed out and the argument began anew.
I have seen this trend on tumblr as well. The shift from pushing so hard for acceptance of the trans that people have started to hate the cis. And Christianity has come under fire for being overbearing, traditionalist, and judgmental, supposedly leading the charge in resisting this area of civil justice.
Christians haven’t had a spotless history. Take the Crusades and the Inquisition, for example. We have a reputation for being narrow-minded, judgmental, and hypocritical, and we as a group are often hated for it. Yes, we are human. Everyone struggles, but the sheer amount of judgment and pride that goes on in the church, and the almost venomous secular response against the evangelical, conservative Christian ideals screamed in my face, and I felt I had been stabbed.
What happened to love, I wondered. How have we let this happen?
Where is the line between fudging ideals and being accepting? Are we taking verses out of context or being too literal?
Ultimately, relationship with God is what matters. If a personal choice doesn’t hinder their relationship with God, I’m not going to nit-pick it.
So I commend Honey Graham’s audacity, and I think Heaven is for Real looks like a ridiculously fascinating movie and I want to see it. But it is infuriatingly apparent that both sides of the social change discussion obviously have many prejudices to get over.
As for me, I’m only certain of a few things:
I dislike overbearing traditionalism and hoop-jumping.
I hate arguing (which is why I would make a horrible debater and I avoid opinionated political discussions like the plague…).
I never want to be the one to tell a fellow human being that their feelings, struggles, and victories are invalid.
God is mysterious and unpredictable and if we think we understand something, we don’t.
And finally, that God is loving. So I will love.