“Beloved, do not be surprised at the burning fire that appears among you, destined to prove you, as if something extraordinary was happening to you; on the contrary, rejoice to the extent that you are co-participants in the sufferings of Christ.. ” 1 Peter 4: 12-16
By Hermes C. Fernandes
Forget Christmas! As of this year, the traditional Christian date is celebrated as the “Day to Combat Cristophobia”, at least in the largest city in South America. The bill 306/2015, authored by councilman Eduardo Tuma (PSDB) was approved by the São Paulo City Council in a symbolic vote on the night of last Tuesday, 7. Depending on the sanction of Mayor Fernando Haddad (PT), the day will become part of the official calendar of events in the Municipality.
Tuma, who besides being an elder at the Bola de Neve Church, is also a member of the Human Rights Commission of the São Paulo Lawyers Institute (IASP), and claims to be fulfilling his role of defending minorities from persecution. He cited as an example the case of transsexual Viviany Beleboni, who staged the crucifixion of Christ in the middle of the LGBT Parade last year in a demonstration against homophobia. “If homophobia is considered a crime, and it is a crime that should be punished, Cristophobia is also a crime and should also be punished,” said the councilman.
“You have a minority being restricted from your rights, such as freedom of speech and, even, sometimes, freedom of worship. The Christian, today, cannot say anything related to homo-affectivity that he is characterized as a homophobic. In other words: he said that he is against the practice of homosexuality, he is homophobic. You have this issue being very imprisoned ”, said Tuma, who also defended that evangelicals should not be prevented from discussing politics during religious events (I have the impression that here lies the real reason for the proposal). If you take SP, it will probably have repercussions throughout the country; it doesn’t take long, it will become law at the national level.
As a Christian, I see no reason for celebration. On the contrary, I feel ashamed. By departing from the original proposal of Jesus’ message, we lose the sense of ridicule, becoming a cartoon church, very different from the one that its founder dreamed of.
There is no Christophobia! Not even the scandals perpetrated by Christianity throughout history have managed to tarnish the image of Jesus. Even cultures most hostile to Christianity have a deep respect for the figure of Christ. Even atheists admit the high level of ethics proposed in their teachings. Ask an Umbandist, a Candomblecist, or even a Muslim, what he thinks about Jesus. Ask an LGBT activist the same question. Despite us Christians, Jesus remains unscathed.
Gandhi, one of the greatest pacifists of all time, although Hindu, considered himself a profound admirer of Christ. In one of his hard-hitting statements about the Christian religion, Mahatma confessed: “I don’t know anyone who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity. The problem is you, Christians. You haven’t even started to live up to your own teachings. ”
Society’s reaction to abuses in the name of Jesus is more like justified gospelfobia. How can we not be gospelfobic in front of an evangelical group that is associated with the most backward, physiologist and corrupt in Brazilian politics? How can we not be gospelfobic in the face of the fundamentalist discourse that refuses to recognize any type of family that does not conform to traditional molds? How can we not be gospelfobic in the face of exorbitant fees charged by gospel singers? How can you not be gospelfobic when pastors are on Forbes magazine’s list? How not to be gospelfóbicowith the frequent boycotts of products, stores, and novels proposed by prominent figures in the evangelical world? I could cite many other reasons, but I prefer not to dwell.
Peter, the apostle, had already warned us, that just as there were “false prophets” in the past, there would also be among us “false teachers” and that many would follow their dissolutions, and because of them the path of truth would be blasphemed (the reason why we have been a laughing stock and jokes), and that, “moved by greed, and with fake words” these would make us business (2 Peter 2: 1-3). Nothing more current, right?
And now you see with this story of Cristophobia? Hypocrites! Do they negotiate all the time in the name of faith, exploit the suffering of others, boycott any social advancement, distill hate and prejudice in their speeches, always eager for temporal power, and now pose as poor, persecuted, wronged people?
If they truly suffered for the love of Christ and the Gospel, they would be as happy as the first Christians, because they would remember the Master’s famous words: “Blessed are those who suffer persecution because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and, lying, say all evil against you because of me. Rejoice and rejoice, for great is your reward in the heavens, for thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you ” (Matthew 5: 10-12).
Note this: the suffering resulting from persecution should only be a cause for joy when it happened “because of justice” and “because of me” (Jesus). Therefore, anyone who is persecuted for defending what is just is included there. This even includes the segments that many Christians are opposed to, including homosexuals, transsexuals, feminists, as well as blacks, Indians, and other minorities. The followers of Jesus should be in solidarity with any group that is persecuted “because of justice”. Instead of going around in self-defense, proposing a day to combat Cristophobia, a genuine disciple of the Nazarene should engage in the fight against all types of discrimination, reinforcing the chorus of those who cry out for justice.
Instead of proposing a joint reaction against the persecution unleashed during the beginnings of Christianity, the same apostle who denounces the false teachers who negotiated in the name of the faith preferred to console persecuted Christians:
According to the above passage, there is nothing extraordinary about suffering for your faith. It is not a question of diminishing its importance, but of equating it to any other human suffering. Shortly after, in the same epistle, the apostle says: “knowing that the same sufferings are being fulfilled in your brothers who are in the world” (1 Peter 5: 9).
Any human suffering is counted as being imposed on Christ Himself. Therefore, Peter talks about being “co-participants in the sufferings of Christ”. It is not in vain that Jesus said that the criteria by which we will be judged by God are the way we deal with our neighbor’s suffering. Those who inherit the kingdom prepared before the foundation of the world will hear: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you dressed me; sick and you visited me; arrested and you came to see me. ” When they ask when they would have done such things, Christ will answer them: “When you did it to one of these my little brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 34-40).
Therefore, taking a stand for human rights and working to alleviate the suffering of anyone is to reach out to God Himself. To oppose this, without a doubt, is to oppose the divine agenda.
If suffering for what is fair should be a cause for celebration, suffering because of an unethical and inhuman stance should be a cause for shame. Hence, the apostolic admonition: “But do not suffer any of you as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or as someone who meddles in someone else’s business.” It may even be that there are not among those who profess to be Christians who are murderers, thieves, or criminals, but certainly what else is there is someone who intrudes on the lives of others, imposing their morals, customs, and values, as well as their political agenda.