Mounted Theology

My dad used to collect butterflies. He would romp through the fields chasing after his fluttering friends, which once caught would be deposited in a coffee can and placed in the freezer. Eventually he would mount them in a beautiful shadowbox to preserve them for eternity. 20 years later, they are as beautiful as the day he caught them, giving them a place in this world well over their expected 40 day lifespan.

But they are dead. Not alive. Dead.

Theology is meant to be alive. It is meant to be lived out day to day in the reality of life. When we write it down as religious policy we mount it as some beautiful answer to an ugly question, and we kill it. It may last for a long time preserved in pristine perfection, but it is no longer alive nor capable of interacting with the real world.

We are called to love as Christ. Yet for some reason, people want to make a list of what is love and what isn’t, to set a policy on how to handle each sinful situation. But it’s not that easy. Is is possible to love a woman who is considering an abortion by just being there for her and letting her know that you will be with her through thick and thin? Is it possible to love another woman in the same situation, encouraging her not to go through with it by sharing your personal experience of suffering from making that decision a year ago? If you think only one of those options is possible, you just mounted theology. Sure, it looks pretty in your statement of belief, and the standard you just created for your religious community should bring about unfaltering unity, but it is dead: Incapable of bringing love to life.

So, how are we to love the murderer, the molester, the prostitute, the workaholoic, sexaholic, churchaholic, rantaholic …? I don’t know. We just are. God help us.