Last night, I signed on Facebook and saw this posted on my wall:
I read your profile and I had to wonder when did you stop caring about the things that God cares about? You have gotten so tolerant of whatever people do is fine with you even if it goes against what God says. You would never ever waver as a girl growing up. I admired that in you. Now you agree so strongly with what is against Gods principles and His word. Was it your school or where you work that made you change? I know that I take a risk of telling you the truth but God has told me the truth and I know you know His word also. So what changed you? Love c.
A little background, and my response, are after the break.
I was raised in an evangelical Christian home, going to church several times a week. In high school I was a Sunday School teacher until I moved away to attend a Christian college. Throughout my childhood and teen years, my entire world-- including every friend I had and principle I believed in-- was based in the church.
Sometime around my twenties, though, I started thinking "bigger". A lot of it had to do with making friends who were, shockingly, not Christian, and yet whose convictions and principles were every bit as strong as my own. A lot had to do with seeing the world and realizing that ours isn't the only way of doing things.
(It's amazing what a little perspective can do.)
And thus began a long and winding personal journey that led me to believe in bigger principles. I continue to do "good works", but in a secular way. I work as a counselor with teenage girls with drug/crime/abuse issues, and in my spare time I volunteer overseas with AIDs orphans, street kids and the extremely poor. My values have also led me to support Obama and reject Prop 8.
My life, including my political views, volunteer work, and general way of looking at things, is plastered all over my Facebook profile. Recently, a lot of people from the church I grew up in have found me and added me as friends. And last night, I received the message quoted above.
This is my response.
|Note of warning: It's written in "Christian-speak" to appeal to her way of thinking, not my own. I apologize, for example, for connecting being gay with wrong-doing, and the frequent use of the word "sinners". That's not my belief, but I figured it was more effective to base my argument in the Bible, since that's what her life is based on.|
This is going to be long, sorry.
Doesn't God care about helping the poor and disadvantaged, reaching out to sinners to help them find a better way, or living a life of integrity and meaning? Because that's what I stand for, and that's what I thought was the core message of Christ's life. But I guess you're probably referring to my support of No on Prop 8, and of Obama.
I do still have very strong convictions and principles for my own life. I just don't think it's my place to impose those convictions on other people. The Bible says, after all:
(John 8:7) "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone"
(Matthew 7:3) "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?"
(Matthew 5:22) "But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire.
I believe Christ wants us to focus on our own flaws, not those of others. The Bible teaches sharing the gospel, not imposing it. Christ himself never condemned, he showed compassion and people responded to that compassion, and to the way he lived his life, and began to follow him of their own free will. He never became angry or judgmental, except for with the money changers in the temple, because they were perverting the church. (Incidentally, Harvest Crusade in Riverside now has a Starbucks, they seem to have missed that passage.)
Most churches today remind me less of Christ's love and more of the pharisees and false prophets, standing and praying loudly on the corner with little concern for the true meaning of Christ's compassion. Where would Mary Magdalene or Zaccheus be in the church today?
As far as Prop 8 specifically, homosexuality is a Biblical sin, but one of many. I don't understand why it has become the "pet sin" of most Christians. Look at the passages:
(1 Timothy 1:9-11) We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
(1 Corinthians 9-11) Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Where is the church's outrage over lying, greed, drunkenness, etc? Those things are taught as wrong, of course, but there's nowhere near the same level of personal condemnation. I have never been scorned by Christians because I may have read the National Enquirer (slander). Nor have I been protested or discriminated against because I may have told a lie or two in my lifetime or driven above the speed limit (lawbreaker). I think everyone on this planet can find a few of those things they are guilty of. But only homosexuality is regularly singled out as evil. Why?
Even if that made sense, we are not discussing the laws of the church but the laws of this country. As much as we have the right to be Christians, others have the right not to be. As one of the founders of democracy said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." If the rights of Muslims or Atheists or Buddhists aren't protected, who will protect the rights of Christians? The Ku Klux Klan is an evil organization but they have as much of a right to spout their garbage as I have a right to spout mine.
Back to Prop 8, it's intent is to eliminate basic rights-- hospital visitation, joint ownership, shared benefits, etc. I don't believe in gay marriage, but I do believe in equality. So I'm against Prop 8 because it enforces discrimination. I would also be against a law that took away rights from liars, adulterers or greedy people too, despite my beliefs about their personal sins. If someone is dying in the hospital, their loved ones should be allowed at their bedside, period. Should the government step in and say, no, you cheated on your wife last year, you can't visit her? Of course not, that's a personal issue. I may not like the orientation of gay couples, but my beliefs shouldn't control anyone else's life. No one should suffer because I don't like how they live. We are each judged by God alone, and they will one day answer to him. My only Biblical responsibility is to have compassion and accept them (the person, not their sin).
The New Testament does not teach condemnation or discrimination, except through the judgment of God. And last time I checked, I ain't him.
As far as the presidential election, it's a funny thing. I've noticed that people tend to have pet issues that they're concerned about, and they become so focused on those issues that they ignore everything else. To many Christians' dismay, Obama supports Roe v. Wade. But, he is also a church-going Christian man with consistent principles, a strong family, and a wife he has been committed to for sixteen years. He supports helping the poor, caring for the sick, and teaching personal responsibility. I think his WWJD rating would be pretty good.
I definitely consider Obama to be a stronger Christian than McCain, who cheated on his wife after she had waited 5 years for him to come home from Vietnam and was crippled by a car accident. He then left her for a trophy wife, who he has since called a "cunt" in public. Aren't adultery and slander mentioned in those verses with homosexuality? But yet McCain is the church's chosen candidate, along with Palin, who had her first child out of wedlock and then raised a daughter who did the same. ("Sexual immorality" is also in that list above).
The words of Christ that I've read talk of love and compassion, of helping the less fortunate, of first accepting sinners and then inspiring them to change. Where are the verses where Christ teaches condemnation, turning our backs on sinners or being judgmental their sins? I must have missed them. And, tell me, why is supporting an adulterer for President considered to be more Christian than fighting for fairness and equality?