Usually when I talk about vulnerability, it's in the context of love and faith. It's typically related to the idea that loving entails being open to hurt and faith entails being open to a certain kind of uncertainty. Both of these possibilities are real enough, and both can ground anxiety and fear. They are both reason enough to treat this kind of vulnerability with respect.
There's also a certain kind of vulnerability in forgoing things with which we are often identified. Hair is a strangely important thing to our sense of self, to the extent that a change of hair can be a real statement of change of self. Control of our hair can help us control what kind of person other people think us to be. In this, hair can be a significant aspect of personal security. Getting rid of it entails a certain kind of vulnerability.
This is especially true for Alec Siantonas, a central writer on this blog—his hair and beard have almost taken on a life of their own. His majestic beard is almost as striking as his strange attachment to natural theology (the Lord works in mysterious ways). To shave it all off is an act of real vulnerability, I cannot help but feel.
The power of Alec's forthcoming shave, however, is not properly grounded in his vulnerability—it is grounded in the way that he is using it to point to a vulnerability which is profound and dangerous to the point of incomprehensibility. All the vulnerabilities above are indeed real enough, and they are valid concerns in our English and American contexts. The vulnerability entailed by love and faith for Christians in certain parts of the Middle East and Africa is of an entirely different order. The risk of believing in the Cross is not that it might lead you to change your life: it is the real possibility, to the point of certainty, that you will lose it. Proclaiming Christ, and Him Crucified, is a very different prospect when the price of doing so is execution—and in making himself vulnerable, Alec is bearing witness to just how little many of us know about the vulnerability of faith.
We are compelled to support those who are vulnerable in ways which we cannot begin to comprehend. We are compelled to support those for whom to choose Christian faith is to choose the constant risk of death—not, of course, to the exclusion of others who are just as vulnerable, but in solidarity with them as well. Alec is shaving his head and beard to raise money for three charities which are doing just this, and you can support his effort here, and you can follow his blog dedicated specifically to this subject here.
For my part, I'll be shaving my hair and beard off as well, at the same as Alec will be in England. I'm certainly jumping on his bandwagon, and my beard is significantly less magnificent, but I think that both of these facts matter less than the opportunity to support him in his efforts.
I'll be fundraising too, but I'll be doing so by directing people to Alec's JustGiving page. So, if you think the idea of me shaving off all my hair is good reason to support Christians facing genocide in the Middle-East, please click right here and donate to Alec's cause (it's a British site, but you can still donate from America).
Apart from all this, please pray for all those facing persecution in the world today, Christian or otherwise. Please pray for those who are vulnerable beyond our comprehension.