Challenges and Opportunities from Orlando

Challenges and Opportunities from Orlando

By Ladson F. Mills III
Special to VIRTUEONLINE
www.virtueonline.Org
Eradicating sin in the world is a noble desire. But as Christians we know that if sin were eradicable Jesus sacrifice would not have been necessary.

In times of fear and turmoil there is an overwhelming need to respond by doing something- anything. In modern America this culminates in passing another law or a new regulation in hopes of eradicating the offending behavior. It is reassuring to not be seen as passive in the face of unimaginable horror. There are those who may criticize this as naïve or out of touch, but it is natural and understandable. It is also wrong.

Our culture has been deceived into believing legislation and regulation are the paths to utopia. I am chagrined to admit there was a time when I acted as though I believed it as well. I once wanted to expand the discipline canons of the Episcopal Church to include the entire membership and not just clergy. I believed that it would help in moderating some of the less savory aspects of parish politics. I was wrong having forgotten that the strength of Christianity is the attraction that comes from transformation not eradication. Or as Galatians 2:21 reminds us, …for if righteousness could be gained through law, Christ died for nothing.

Actor George Takei, who gained fame as Mr. Zulu of Star Trek fame is openly gay. Following the Orlando massacre he asserted his differences with the NRA (National Rifle Association) by announcing they did not want to mess with the LGBT community. Sorry, Mr. Zulu, the world in which we live is not a television script. There is no beam me up Scotty or Phasers on stun Captain when the going gets tough. This is a world where evil people are serious and committed in their determination to kill us; celebrity status not notwithstanding.

There is a lesson to be taken from New York Mayor Bill DeBlassio. He discovered that wearing shirts saying Real men don’t kidnap women, following Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls may have allowed him to feel empowered, but it mattered not at all. People who embrace hate and evil as their defining values are impervious to public scolding.

Joanna Palini the Danish University student who recently returned from a year of fighting ISIL discovered this to be true. One of her most painful experiences occurred when an 11-year old child died in her arms after having been used as a sex slave and repeatedly raped. Her young body could not tolerate the trauma of birthing the twins she was carrying as the result of her continued abuse.

The Christian Church is the only organization in existence who can confront this evil because we are the only ones who truly understand the nature of sin. Sin has been with us since the Fall of Humanity and can never be eradicated. Christians, however can bear witness that human beings are regularly transformed not through embracing the values of a culture, as well meaning as it may be, but through power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have now reached the stage where governments are no longer capable of protecting its citizens. We are in that lamentable place where the nation is being led by ideologues rather than problem solvers. Three members of Congress walked out of the moment of silence in honor the Orlando tragedy in order to make a political statement. They made their statement although perhaps not in the way intended.

It was neither the time nor the place and their decision reveals a disturbing truth of today’s politicians. They are unmasked as more interested in re-election than in seeking solutions. The disconnect between the leaders and those whom they lead is palatable and growing.

This vacuum can only be filled by Christianity. The church must resist the temptation to act as just another self-deluded organization existing for its own self-interest and pretending to eradicate designer sin as a means to make itself seem relevant in today’s culture.

The response from the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry set the right tone. He correctly understood the Orlando Massacre is one of those times when less is more. He properly prayed for all in a manner that was brief, sincere, and appropriate. Unlike some bishops he resisted the temptation to moralize, damn through faint praise, or mask personal agendas under the guise of high toned rhetoric.

Christianity recognizes sin and understands that it cannot be magically wished away. There is no walk back when things go wrong or a magic pill to makes things perfect. We are called to bear witness to the transformation that only comes through the Grace of Jesus Christ.

Or as the old adage says, you may be able to fool the fans, but you can’t fool the players.

Ladson F. Mills III is a retired priest with over thirty years pastoral experience. He is retired and lives with his wife in South Carolina. He currently serves as Scholar in Residence at the Church of Our Saviour, Johns Island. He is a regular contributor to Virtueonline.

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