Ellen Degeneres found herself in the midst of controversy after spending time with President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys football game. In case you don’t know (though most of you probably already do), Ellen is a liberal gay woman and the former President is a conservative Christian man.
Many people (mostly on the political left) lambasted Ellen for socializing with the former President. A quick Google search for “Ellen Degeneres” revealed some interesting headlines:
- “Kindness is Not Enough” (BuzzFeed News)
- “Ellen DeGeneres tells America she’s better than us” (Washington Post)
- “Ellen Degeneres Slammed Over George W. Bush Friendship” (The View)
- “Mark Ruffalo & More Celebs Call Out Ellen DeGeneres” (E! News)
And that’s just the headlines!
Following Ellen’s defense of her actions (see video above), things didn’t simmer down. According to The Blaze, Vanity Fair “accused DeGeneres of being an elitist” and they tweeted that she is “increasingly out of touch with reality.” Mark Ruffalo joined in by saying “Until [Bush] is brought to justice . . . we can’t even begin to talk about kindness.” The Blaze further reported that “Twitter users heaped praise on Ruffalo” for his tweet.
As I watched this controversy blossom, I was fascinated by a couple of things. First, that those who demand an end to hate, bigotry, and intolerance were themselves spewing hate, bigotry, and intolerance. Second, I was saddened by the fact that many Christians often fail to show others the same courtesy, compassion, and kindness (and dare I say ‘love’) that Ellen showed to the Bush family.
This, to me, speaks to character.
It’s a Question of Character
Our actions reveal our character. They are the evidence of who we are, despite what we might claim. This is why James asks “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (James 2:14), and later declares “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). His point is this: your actions either prove your claim or they refute it.
Ellen is absolutely correct when she says we can be kind to people with whom we disagree. She’s correct when she says we can be friends with people who don’t share our beliefs. Jesus put it this way:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Later, a Jewish lawyer asked Jesus about the command to love his neighbor saying, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus then told the parable of the Good Samaritan in which the Jews failed to show love, but the Samaritan (whom Jews saw as sub-human half-breeds) showed love (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus was, in part, telling the lawyer that everyone was his neighbor, even if he didn’t agree with them.
It’s Time for an Honest Character Assessment
Going back to the Ellen controversy, it’s saddening to see such disgust and vitriol come out when someone dares show warmth, friendliness, kindness, and love to someone. Even sadder is when those who lash out in hate are the same ones who cry foul and play the victim when others spew hate and vitriol.
This problem isn’t only in Hollywood. It’s also in the churches.
Christians are just as guilty of displaying animosity, bigotry, condescension, and hate toward others (just take a look at social media comments from self-acclaimed Christians). When someone expresses an opinion or belief contrary to the Christian’s, out come the daggers, victim card, or both.
We need to look at ourselves and see who we really are. Jesus said to love those around us, which means serving them. You see, love is a verb. Love is how we treat others. Love is how we speak to others. Love is how we care for others.
Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Paul reiterated this in his letter to the Roman church when he said, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:8).
What do your actions say about your character? Do you reflect the character of Christ? Do you show love to those who have different beliefs, opinions, and values? Do you truly love your enemies?
It’s time we underwent a brutally honest character assessment.