I came to a revelation recently; I have a judgment problem.
I do not so much have a problem when it comes to those on the margins or those who many Christians most often judge, but I have a judgement problem against conservatives.
I am a senior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. I have dealt with a lot in my three-plus years at this institution, and I have been angered and hurt by the university.
I have had pastors try to convince me that I am unsaved to save me again, I have heard toxic politicians speak from the convocation stage, and I have seen professors demean women who are sitting in their classrooms.
Seeing all of this on a daily basis is difficult, and I have learned how to speak up against some of the injustices that I see on my campus.
I do this by having conversations with people and trying to get them to see gray in this complex world.
But in my hurt and in my anger, I do something that is wrong. I often times lump all conservatives in a box, label them as wrong and label me as right. When I do this, I lose my humility and some of my humanity.
I don’t look at my own imperfections and my own hypocrisy. Instead, I just see the imperfections and hypocrisy of the Southern Baptist Convention.
I have often referred to my denomination (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) as the “good Baptists.” What do I gain by this other than blowing up my own pride and putting down sisters and brothers in the SBC?
I also will take to Twitter, making unkind remarks on people’s posts – trying to lower them while raising myself.
I’ve come to recognize that all of this hatred and anger coming from me is completely counter to the gospel of love and kindness that Jesus preaches.
I have become my own kind of Pharisee, but one who judges people by their inability to see gray, or judges someone who does not accept the same people that I accept. I have done this while increasing in pride.
I want to make sure I am not misunderstood: It is very clear in the Bible that God calls us to speak out against injustice. I am a firm believer in this.
We need to speak out when we see Franklin Graham using shoeboxes to get rich, or when we see Jerry Falwell Jr. support hateful rhetoric from political leaders.
But when we speak out against injustices in our world, we need to do so with a sense of humility, and a heartfelt longing for people to change for the better.
The biblical prophets offered both critique and consolation – speaking forcefully about societal injustice and calling out its perpetrators while also expressing a genuine desire for offenders to repent, to change by casting a vision for both individual and social redemption that could follow such turning.
I encourage those who are reading this article to continue to fight injustice, to persist in speaking up for the marginalized and oppressed. But when we do this, we should not allow ourselves to become prideful.
We should not allow ourselves to think that in some way we are better or deserve more than our conservative sisters and brothers because one day we will have to share heaven with them.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series focused on engaging emerging faith leaders. Learn more about EthicsDaily.com’s “Emerging Voices” and “U:21” series here.
John DeWitt is a student at Liberty University, and is a member at Second Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.