Matt Stolhandske is a board member of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality and a contributor to The Purple Elephant. However, that is not why he is in the spotlight. What makes him controversial? Matt wants to give $150,000 to the Kleins, a couple in Oregon, who had to shut down their bakery business after being slapped with a fine for discrimination; they refused to provide services to a gay couple getting married.
“I’m also an evangelical Christian. I can’t understand why the Kleins or any other Christians twist the words of Jesus Christ to justify this behavior. To me, it’s a deeply harmful and embarrassing bastardization of our faith,” Stolhandske explains. “But I don’t hate the Kleins. In fact I am raising money to cover the punitive fine they received from Oregon.”
Gay rights journalist, Eliel Cruz, disagrees with Stolhandske and states that there is no Christain case for raising cash for “homophobes”. “Conservative Christians have reached an all-time high of portraying themselves as victims of persecution. Let’s call it self-persecution,” Cruz asserts. “Stolhandske argues that Jesus calls us to love our enemies. As a Christian myself, I am in complete agreement with that sentiment, but I just missed the part where loving your enemies equals paying them $150,000.”
Cruz said if Stolhandske wants to love his enemy he should do so by raising money to fight the LGBT homeless youth epidemic; the result of so many Christian parents throwing their gay sons and daughters away on the streets. Cruz says you can love your enemy by modeling how to love; by fighting for LGBT equality.
Stolhandske answers, “In the face of intolerance, I am yet called to love.”
Love is a word many Christians seem to throw around, and who can blame them? After all, it is mentioned in the bible 538 times. However, just as in this situation, there has been an age old argument regarding how to love; especially when we are talking about our perceived enemies.
Pastor Jay Bakker ministers that we are called to always push ourselves to the next level; go beyond our comfort zone when we think we have it figured out. This got me to soul searching and I had to ask myself, “Can I love my enemy while ignoring their suffering?”
There is a school of conventional wisdom that when you love someone you allow them their growing pains; you don’t protect them from the natural consequences of their bad decisions. I am not arguing the wisdom of this love, if I am a parent or guardian, and I suppose we are all our brothers’ keepers… but how should we love our enemies? I agree with Cruz when he states, “You can love your enemy by modeling how to love,” and so I look to how Christ treated his enemies.
Christ washed Judas’ feet knowing he was going to betray him. Christ, who could walk across water and raise from the dead, never once used his miracles to defend himself against his torturers, accusers or murderers. In fact, the last thing Christ stated was, “Forgive them father for they know not what they do.” How far then should we go for love? How much should we give? Christ gave his life for all of us; especially for his enemies.
Every time I fall short of loving my enemy, for me, it is because I can’t yet find the serenity that Christ modeled that would allow me to forget about the self; forget about my victimization and to stop using it as an excuse for resentment and retaliation. If we could all just love our enemies, if we could forgive them; perhaps then we could truly work towards a lasting peace.
Cruz concludes, “If you want to do something for the Kleins, send them a cake.”
Stolhandske says, “I know this is a lot to ask of the Kleins, to shower love to someone like me that represents something they abhor. So I'm trying to live that challenge myself."
Love is a challenge that never stops