I was listening to Mason Proffit singing “Two Hangmen” today and the words caught my attention. I was surprised how these lyrics that were written into an entirely different context fit into my experience in American Evangelicalism.
Too often those who dare to think thoughts outside the excepted boundaries find themselves facing the proverbial hangman. How many times have I seen people called to account for not following some set of rules. How many excoriated for daring to suggest that a belief or set of beliefs might be obsolete or incorrect. Or perhaps culturally bound. How many have I seen ridiculed for relinquishing the rope and choosing hope. For choosing love over law.
There was a time I was zealous in my evangelical fervor. A time when, God help me, I might have played a part in that hangman’s role myself. But then I began to see the loopholes, the innocent who were being hung. I have personally been on the receiving end of the hangman’s noose on more than one occasion. No one is immune from this. Not even the one who has accepted and carried out the duties of the hangman. I just wish there had been someone there to cut me loose.
So If you find yourself in the Evangelical hangman’s noose, give me a call. I will come and cut you loose. And if need be, I will hang with you. For we have a God who chose love over law. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
As I rode into Tombstone on my horse, his name was Mack
I saw what I’ll relate to you, going on behind my back
It seems the folks were up-in-arms, a man now had to die
For believing things that didn’t fit, the laws they’d set aside
The mans name was “I’m a Freak”. The best that could see
He was the executioner, a hangman just like me
I guess he’d seen loopholes from working with his rope
He’d hung the wrong man many times, so now he turned to hope
He talked to all the people from his scaffold in the square
He told them of the things he found, but they didn’t seem to care
He said the laws were obsolete, a change they should demand
But the people only walked away, he couldn’t understand
The marshals name was “Uncle Sam”, he said he’d right this wrong
He’d make the hangman shut his mouth, if it took him all day long
He finally arrested Freak, and then he sent for me
To hang a fellow hangman, from a fellow hangman’s tree
It didn’t take them long to try him in their court of law
He was guilty then of “Thinking”, a crime much worse than all
They sentenced him to die, so his seed of thought can’t spread
And infect the little children, that’s what the law had said
So the hangin’ day came ’round, and he walked up to the noose
I pulled the lever, but before he fell I cut him lose
They called it a conspiracy, and that I had to die
So to close our mouths and kill our minds, they hung us side-by-side
And now we’re two hangmen, hangin’ from a tree
That don’t bother me, at all
Two hangmen, hangin’ from a tree
That don’t bother me, at all