Is Fear the Definition of Evangelical Christian Love?

    By Tim Rymel, M.Ed. | 14 September 2017
    The Huffington Post

    The Nashville Statement was recently released by a group of evangelical Christians who said their purpose was to affirm, “Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God.”

    It is a statement full of assumptions – including that their interpretation of God and the Bible is the true one – and misrepresentations of the LGBT community. It also puts the signers’ ignorance about the science of human biology and sexuality on full display.

    Many of these signers felt it was their obligation to express their “Christian love” to the world. As Albert Mohler, Jr. put it, “[W]e in fact are acting out of love and concern for people who are increasingly confused about what God has clarified in Holy Scripture.”

    People are not confused about Mohler’s interpretation of Scripture. It has dominated mainstream thought for the last 50 years.

    According to Merriam-Webster, attributes of love include strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; warm attachment, enthusiasm, devotion, admiration; unselfish and benevolent; concern for the good of others.

    When someone is truly concerned about us, and unselfishly has our best interest at heart, we can usually feel it. We identify with their empathetic compassion. Evangelical Christian love, however, is beginning to look and feel more like abject fear.

    For example, many of the more outspoken evangelicals also make outrageous statements about God’s wrath if we don’t follow God in the right way. Some of these evangelical preachers came out in full force following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, stating that: the flood is from God because the former mayor of Houston subpoenaed minister’s sermons (Jim Bakker); if the Supreme Court made abortion and gay marriage illegal, we would have avoided Hurricane Irma (Kevin Swanson); and Houston was hit by Hurricane Harvey because it supports LGBT people (Rick Wiles).

    And then, in 2016, there were dozens of “religious freedom” bills introduced around the country for the sole purpose of allowing business owners to discriminate against people with whom they theologically disagree. There are dozens more in 2017. A statement from the United Methodist Church said religious freedom is “for all people and all faith communities in the distinctly Christian ethic of love…”

    Reprinted with permission from the author.

    Tim Rymel, M.Ed., is the author of Going Gay (2014), and the upcoming book, Rethinking Everything When Faith and Reality Don’t Make Sense (2017). He is a former minister and a member of the American Psychological Association, APA Division 15 Educational psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Issues. Buy Going Gay at: Follow him on Twitter: @TheRealTimRymel

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