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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. 

Hi C.,

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?

Originally posted to emeybee on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 10:03 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  well let's hope your reader cares enough (9+ / 0-)

    to give your response some serious thought. Maybe next time she talks to God she can ask his opinion.

    I wouldn't hold my breath.  So called "Christians" that need to be reminded about loving their neighbor and helping the poor have already driven off the reservation.

    If we cannot elect this man, we don't deserve him.

    by lisastar on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 10:13:43 AM PST

  •  As someone (3+ / 0-)

    who was raised in the same kind of evangelical atmosphere and has been making this same argument- good job! It's hard to make the argument for equality, and many Christians don't listen, but the ones that do make it all worthwhile.

  •  great letter (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for calling on 'Christians' to be more Christ-like. I'm convinced that's part of how we get this country back on track.

  •  well written (6+ / 0-)

    Remember to post a tipjar.

    I would rather have a foul-mouthed jerk who calls me names behind my back (a Pete Stark, say) but who sticks up for my rights and for justice in the clinch, than a soft-spoken ever-polite churchlady who claims to love me yet works to undermine my life and votes against me whenever she gets to.

  •  I wish all so called christians could read this (2+ / 0-)

    There was a "Yes" on 8 by the mormans in Pasadena, CA.  It was disgusting seeing their lies about protecting "marriage" as though its' in danger.  I am ashamed that even black churches are promoting hate.  I like the new TV ad with Samuel Jacksons voice for "NO" on 8.  It highlights the discrimation against blacks, asians, women, etc.  

  •  Very well written (5+ / 0-)

    It's so sad that there are people who have decided to use the concepts of religion and sin as means of allowing themselves to feel superior to the sinner.  

    It's so much easier to feel good about oneself in comparison to someone you point to as being worse than to have to judge yourself strictly based on your own merits and flaws.

  •  now that Americans are taking back America (8+ / 0-)

    from the corporate thugs who hijacked it, maybe Christians could take back Christianity?

    All it would take would be for those for whom Christianity is a religion of love to stand up to those for whom Christianity is a religion of hate and say, NO, that's not what Christ's message is, it's not about hating fags or bullying people or thinking you're better than others or relishing the idea of people you don't like burning in hell.

    Yeah but, no but, yeah but, no but, yeah but

    by krnewman on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 10:35:02 AM PST

  •  i've been having similar conversations (7+ / 0-)

    and no matter what i say, the religious "right" (so very right, because they won't even attempt to listen to the views of others) still condemn me for my christian failings.

    has this election cycle led me astray from strong christian faith? no. has this election cycle led me astray from faith in strong christians? yes.

    well done for having a strong mind for a strong argument. i may link some of my christian friends to it so they know i'm not the only one thinking "christianity" and "compassion" should be less mutually exclusive.

    •  You broke their code. They can never be 'wrong' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dem in the heart of Texas

      if they never acknowledge the possibility exists.

      So when they are wrong, they just point to the infallibility of their first rule and continue to ignore their duplicity.

      If there is a god, I'm really going to feel sorry for the crowd that think's they are in his good graces; because if intellectual honesty has anything to do with his final judgement, there's going to be serious expansion going on in Hell to make room for all the Christians in this country.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 08:42:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As I would not be a slave... (5+ / 0-)

    I prefer Lincoln's quote on this more so than any written in the bible (though you could probably call it a paraphrase of the golden rule)
    "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master"

    As I would not allow my own marriage to be given less credence and less weight than others, so to I would not want it to be given more

  •  I just cant (8+ / 0-)

    identify with the US religious right - and I'm a  British Baptist!  They're totally alien to me - mainly because for some strange reason they use their religious beliefs as a cover for mean-spiritedness, hatred and judgementalism.

  •  Lovely. (4+ / 0-)

    I hope it's read with an open mind.

    Thank you for trying.

    Hard core Christian and hard core liberal...not an illogical combination at all.

    by penny8611 on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 08:17:59 PM PST

  •  I just crashed heads with my nieghbor who is (4+ / 0-)

    still hung up on the goddamn label. (profanity chosen precisely).

    To him it's still a matter of daring to call it "marriage".

    Ghosts of George Carlin seethe within me as I try to figure out how the fuck we can still believe that changing the name of what we call something somehow changes what it is, how we respond to it, or what it's worth.

    At the end of the day, I gain what little solace I can gather from Christians by realizing that even though I have no church to run to when I am troubled and they act like they are at peace, they really have no idea what peace with their own soul ever could be.

    After all, if they could find it on their own, like I do, what would they need "G"od for?

    I've gradually come to accept that Americans without someone to blame for their own failures are like sharks that stop swimming - they'd just collapse and die if they could not find some other target for their own self-loathing.

    It used to be witches, then we had slaves, we let blacks free of the chains but never changed the way we treated them and that worked for a while, women were even a pseudo-source under law and still are in many circles, so they figured if they could project all their self-hate on sex - something we're all not supposed to acknowledge we ever have, so we can't resolve what we can't talk about - they might get a free pass.

    Now that their plan isnt' working out so well, they have to invent a new demon out of it.

    Frankly, if there really is a "G"od, there's no fucking way he would not have come back to Earth already and kicked the shit out of all of us for having the balls to ever put the word "United" in the title of our country, because it's always been an unspoken joke.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    From a 41 year old heterosexual male, never married, who sleeps remarkably well at night without any fear that someone who looks at sex differently than I do might be able make marriage work better than the crowd that currently insists that it belongs only to them.

    We all know that's the real fear in the Church community - Imagine if gays get "marriage" and not just "civil unions" and the divorce rate amongst the hetero community that "deserves it to be protected" is twelve times what it is amongst the gay community who supposedly doesn't deserve it.

    You know and I know that day is coming, and then we're all going to reminisce about how polite, civil, and endearing these arguments were today.

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 08:39:10 PM PST

  •  "Separate but equal" (4+ / 0-)

    Was the phrase used to excuse building "Whites only" water fountains and toilets. People who still believe in separate but equal policy w.r.t. race are (rightfully) called bigots.

    There were once laws that would have prevented Obama's parents from ever marrying. Thousands of people who were fortunate enought to find love were denied their right to marry under these laws.

    Why can't people recognize that the exact same principles are at play here?

  •  Absolutely Brilliant. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As a christ follower and supporter of Obama, I myself have also dealt with the same kind of thing. I will continue to pray for you and yours.

  •  Selective beliefs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FeastOr, irishwitch, bushondrugs

    Why is it that fundamentalists, much more so than many other Christians, seem to pick and choose what verses in the bible they prefer to follow, and which not?

    For instance, while they go to Leviticus, and other OT books to find prohibitions against homosexuality, they completely miss similar items such as:

    • Stoning as a requirement for adultery and misbehaving children>
    • Support for slavery
    • Denouncement of taking interest on loans

    ...and the like.

    Simple answer:  in today's world, they can't, in good conscience, believe all those things, given the dominant sentiment of the vast majority of people, but they can get away with being against gays because it flies with enough people, I suppose.

    "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazurus Long

    by rfall on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 09:43:51 PM PST

  •  If Christians want to support marriage, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matilda, FeastOr, irishwitch, bushondrugs

    then they need to focus on the roots of divorce. Supporting young families has not of late been a priority of the Religious Right. We need Christians to start fighting for things that will help couples stay together- living wage jobs, pay parity, affordable health care and child care, etc etc etc. They need to care about couples before they split up, rather than pointing fingers after it happens.

    I find it interesting that Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuals, but he took time to condemn divorce. That says a lot to me.

    "It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Albus Dumbledore ~~~~~~~~~

    by Lainie on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 09:54:00 PM PST

  •  Romans 14 is an excellent rebuttal... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FeastOr, AllanTBG

    This is from The Message translation by Eugene Peterson, which puts it into a more modern voice (horrors!).

    I find it to be very beautiful.

    Cultivating Good Relationships

    1   Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

    2-4   For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

    5   Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

    6-9   What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

    10-12   So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

      "As I live and breathe," God says,
         "every knee will bow before me;
      Every tongue will tell the honest truth
         that I and only I am God."
    So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

    13-14   Forget about deciding what's right for each other. Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I'm convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

    15-16   If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don't you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

    17-18   God's kingdom isn't a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness' sake. It's what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

    19-21   So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault. You're certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God's work among you, are you? I said it before and I'll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don't eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

    22-23   Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.

    Impeachment is a duty, not an option that can be taken off the table.

    by bushondrugs on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 11:07:01 PM PST

    •  I just wrote a long reply to a (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      irishwitch, AllanTBG, bushondrugs

      "What would Jesus vote for" e-mail from a Bigoted Baptist minister.

      In it, I pointed to the *only statement of Jesus referencing marriage recorded in The Bible:

      29Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
      30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

      Does is not seem hypocritical to pray
      "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
      while defending an institution that God will destroy  for all eternity?

      *There are versions of this quote in each of synoptic gospels.

      -5.75 -5.85 Belief in absolutes is the laziest form of delusion.

      by FeastOr on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 01:43:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why do you think that evangelical "Christians" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    seem intent on patterning their behavior after the old testament Yahweh rather than the new testament Jesus that they profess to follow?

    The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on! -Ted Kennedy

    by cloudwatcher on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 10:53:57 AM PST

  •  Glad to see I'm not alone! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You are so right in so many ways here. It frightens me just how willingly blind people are being - even to the teachings they claim to follow.

    I addressed this to the religious right as well; I can only hope that facts will overcome prejudice.

  •  Nice to read. Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

    Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God. - Lenny Bruce

    by medicinewoman on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:53:31 AM PST

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