Sunday, June 30, 2013

How wrong can we get? Gay "vs" Christian attitudes

I am not going to lie.  This post is difficult for me to write.  1) I hate controversy.  Like, I really really find it stressful.  I hate arguing with people and debating, etc.  It's just not who I was made to be.  I also hate sticking my neck out.  2) I know it could impinge on my writing career.  I have, after all, written Christian fiction and may write more in the future.

But, I've learned some things in the last few years that I need to talk about openly and honestly somewhere.  Like, standing up about it, not just privately realizing I was wrong about some things in life.

Something I was wrong about?  How the Church and Christianity believes and acts toward gay people.  How I believed about gay people.

Basically, I grew up with an assumption that gay = all about sex and scary and evil.  And yes, we love the sinner and hate the sin, but really?  We were just creeped out and disgusted by the whole topic.  Because it was wrong, and of the devil, etc.

Here's a good link to read more on this topic, by the way:
http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/post/49276838693/four-ways-christians-are-getting-the-gay-debate-wrong

But, what I've been learning and what God has been slowly teaching me... it's not OK to hate anybody.  To be disgusted by people.  To SAY we love the sinner but really just want to stay away from them because they're creepy and gross.

Jesus doesn't find people creepy and gross.  He just doesn't.

One book I found very helpful to understand some of these issues is Torn, by Justin Lee.  I love the way he talks, not so much about theology and who is right and wrong, but about how we treat each other.  Do we see each other as human beings and honestly love, or just want to preach and win arguments?

Guess what Christianity isn't?  A debate team.  A war game.  Something where you get points for proving the other side wrong.  And then saying you'll pray for them.

Truly following Jesus is about loving your enemies...not beating them into the ground with scripture.  That's when people truly ARE enemies...not saying we have to make people who disagree with us our enemies.

The older I get, the more I realize I've been wrong about lots of things, and had very little understanding at all about the grace of God.  It's been about rules.  And that's not what Jesus is about.  To be a real Christian, we really have to get to know Jesus and live as he lived (not the sandals but loving people) and follow his teachings about loving our enemies, loving each other, and loving God.

And... we are supposed to be able to disagree about theological issues without attacking each other and hating each other and degenerating into prideful and sneering creatures.  In the Bible, Paul talks about how the people who disagree about whether or not to eat meat sacrificed to idols need to handle it.  The one thing he never says it that they should beat each other up until the other side submits.  While that doesn't seem like an important issue to us anymore, it's a good template to handle theological debate.

There are areas where you can legitimately question things and have different theological beliefs.  I think we need to be open enough to say, "Well, if they're wrong, I can trust that God will show them that someday."  Instead of saying we have to be the ones to prove everyone wrong or else despise them forever.

I think we're all wrong about something.  I think I'm wrong about some things, and I may never know it as long as I live!  Scary!

But the thing the church needs to deal with is, Are we going to really follow Jesus and love people?  Even if we think they're wrong, or they're outside our experience and scary?

And you know what I see?  I have very, very rarely seen the church be open and loving towards gay people.  I've seen jokes and jabs and sermons and debates.  I've seen the assumption that being gay is the worst sin in the world.  That being gay is all about one certain sex act, which is the grossest thing ever, without any acknowledgement that 1) not all gay people have this or any sex, and 2) some straight people do.  I've seen little if any acknowledgement that some people identify as same-sex attracted but believe in following their church's teaching and being celibate.

A glimpse of what it's like to be a Christian who is gay or same-sex attracted but celibate:
http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/post/47624732313/story-time-for-the-church


I have some issues I need to work on.  But I don't hate, fear, despise, or "love the sinner but hate the sin" anymore toward gay people.  (Also, I now say "gay people" the same as I say "straight people."  I don't go around calling anyone "straights" so why would I call anyone "gays?")

I just wonder what took so long.  I've loved God for most of my life and tried to follow Him.  I've worked so hard to become a loving person, and I know I have a lot further to go.  But...how was this blind spot there?  How could I not see how damaging it is to be disgusted by certain people or think you have to convince people they're wrong?

It seems like the main Christian response sometime about gay people and Christianity is, well, you can't be gay and go to heaven.  So change and then maybe Jesus will have time for you.  (Because obviously you picked it, right?  Even though gay people are more likely to commit suicide, they must've wanted to become gay at some point, right?)  And if you can't change yourself?  If you don't pray hard enough or believe enough (just like some people feel about healing), well, sucks to be you!

That's not good enough anymore.  It's time to love people for real.  That means people who disagree with you about politics.  People who cut in front of you in traffic.  People who are gay.  People who disagree with you about theology.

It means following Jesus for real this time.

If anyone wants to see more about the debate thing, feel free to check out Justin Lee for some views.

Or this video, which shares some of the discussions and issues and sides going on, from a well researched young man:  http://youtu.be/ezQjNJUSraY  or here: http://www.matthewvines.com/transcript Even if you don't agree with his conclusions, you'll learn something.  (I did.)

I also highly recommend Justin Lee's book, wherever you stand on the issues, because he does such a good job of reminding us that it's not all about issues: it's about people, and how we treat others, and if we even see them as human.  It's about God and how he treats people and wants us to treat each other--with respect, dignity, and love.

You know, I didn't used to understand the part of the Bible where Jesus talks about separating the sheep from the goats.  You know, the people who think they did God's work but he says, "You never knew me?"  It sounds so harsh.  And the other people, who did His work, seemed sort of surprised, like they'd just been going about their lives, not thinking they were wonderful or anything, just trying to do the right thing and help people in need.

I sort of get it now.  If we fill our lives with correcting people and arguing about stuff and putting boxes around who is worthy of love and compassion and who isn't, well, we really don't know Jesus very well on a personal level.  If we actually help people in need and love others, then we're following Jesus.

I have so far to go, I know.  You don't need to tell me.  I really do know.

2 comments:

Kat Heckenbach said...

Lovely post. I know it's hard to jump into controversial topics like this, but you did a good job. We really do need to think about showing God's love first and foremost.

Lum said...

Thanks so much, Kat. :)

It was indeed hard, but it felt like something I needed to do.

I really appreciate your comment!!