Thursday, August 16, 2012

Uncomfortable thoughts.

I have been having a lot of thoughts lately on a topic I am NOT comfortable talking about, writing about, or really even thinking about, to be honest. But the best way I've found to get thoughts OFF my chest (and out of my head) is to write about them. This post has been in draft for awhile, and I guess it's time for me to just put it out there.

Please read the whole post before you comment; my thoughts evolved as I wrote it.  

I would like to disclaim that I fully expect this post to have holes and be not very structured or intelligent or cohesive, and maybe even to cause me to lose some friends. It's what I'm thinking, and I don't have it all figured out but I need to quit burying these thoughts away.

The whole Chick-Fil-A thing, and the broader issues surrounding it, is the kind of thing I normally try my best to just ignore. Honestly, I am purposely pretty ignorant of what's going on politically in the nation/world. I shy away (okay, RUN) from any conversation or confrontation about political stuff. I'm not proud to admit this, since I know I am an Adult, and an American, and I should be Responsible and take an active stand for what I believe by Voting and Crap Like That. (I don't know what's up with all this random capitalization. It just happened.)

Anyway, I guess the truth is: I am freaked out and confused about some super politically-charged topics -- namely: abortion and homosexuality/gay marriage. I was brought up to believe that marriage and romantic relationships are meant to be between a man and a woman, and I still believe that. I was taught that life begins at conception, and therefore abortion at any point during a pregnancy is murder -- and I still believe that, too.

But I don't know how I feel about getting the government involved with legislating these issues one way or the other. I think something major that I struggle with is understanding why Christians are so focused on preventing gay marriage from becoming legal, but no one is out there trying to ban unmarried couples from living together. What I mean is, why are we SO focused (legally/politically) on a couple of hot-button issues and ignoring so many others?

I don't fall into the camp with people who would claim that "all sin is equal" (since Jesus himself refers to one man as having committed "a greater sin" - John 19:11). So I'm not suggesting that someone having an abortion is just "as bad" as someone who steals a bracelet from Forever 21. But I do believe that ALL sin separates us from God, and ALL sin needs to be paid for, and that the wages of ALL sin is death, and that Jesus died to cover ALL sin -- the "big" stuff and the seemingly "small" stuff.

I just...I don't know. I hate that Christians are SO obsessed with vocalizing how wrong and unnatural homosexuality is, and how Jesus apparently HATES gay people. I absolutely do not believe Jesus hates gay people, and I don't think Jesus had a stronger agenda against the sins of homosexuality or abortion than he had against, say, adultery or stealing. I honestly don't even know what Jesus would have said about legalizing gay marriage or abortion. Did Jesus ever intend to have a say in what Caesar's law should be? (I'm asking that in all seriousness; I have no idea what the answer is.)

One of my Christian friends on facebook recently posted something that said: "Don't judge someone just because they sin differently than you." And I guess that's kind of how I feel about this. I believe homosexuality is a sin, yes. I also believe that stealing, lying, alcoholism, infidelity, jealousy, and premarital sex are sins. And I believe that people have serious struggles with their sins. There are plenty of Christians who struggle with compulsive lying. Getting drunk five nights a week. Cheating on their significant others. And it seems like, generally speaking, these people can confess their sins in church with the prayer team up front, and they are accepted and declared forgiven in God's sight, and they are encouraged and supported and given resources for accountability and help.

I'm getting on a tangent, actually. What I'm really struggling with is how we as Christians deal with non-Christians and their choices.

My campus pastor during my freshman year of college once said something along the lines of, "We have no reason to tell non-Christians to stop sinning, and we should not judge or rebuke them for the way they live their lives. Why? Because they don't have Jesus. They are living in the world, in Satan's domain, and as far as he's concerned, they're following all his rules to a tee. The only thing we should be concerned with when we're talking to our non-Christian friends is showing them the same love that Jesus did. He hung out with thieves and murderers. He spent most of his time rebuking the Pharisees -- the religious elite! -- for their hypocrisy." (His sermon was much more in-depth and coherent than that, but that's the gist of what I remember.)

So, why are we so much more concerned with condemning people for the way they live their lives, rather than focusing on showing them Christ's love? I really don't think we're going to win people to Jesus by insisting that they can't marry someone of the same sex because the Bible says it's wrong. I especially don't think that standing around at Planned Parenthood with signs that say "Abortion is murder!" and "Jesus hates abortion!" is particularly effective, despite my belief that both those statements are true (let me clarify: I think Jesus hates abortion, but NOT people who have had or performed abortions). I think a much more reasonable way to reach out to a woman who has had or is considering an abortion is to ask her about her life. Get to know her and find out what she's been through that has brought her here. Be loving toward her, and if you have the ability to offer up alternatives in a helpful and practical way, do it gently and thoughtfully. Pray for her.

I dunno. Like I said, I'm having a lot of thoughts and I haven't exactly nailed down my stance -- politically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally. But I don't want to keep hiding away from these topics out of fear. I just want to remain true to what I believe, without condemning my non-Christian peers for living a lifestyle I don't understand or support.

Bottom line: I don't want to treat ANYONE hatefully, ever. I want to encourage and support my Christian friends who struggle with whatever sin they struggle with, and be there for them in any way I can. And I want to respect my non-Christian friends regardless of whether their beliefs line up with all of mine. And I have NO clue how these hot-button topics should be dealt with by Christians in the political realm, but I don't think the current approach is doing anyone much good.


  1. I admit, I struggle with the whole "hate the sin, love the sinner" notion. You are right that in many situations (like addiction), that concept is applied the way it should be, mainly because the sin itself can be separated from the person committing the sin. Your drug addiction does not (have to) define who you are. But in the case of homosexuality, I don't believe it's that simple-- how to separate supposedly sinful actions (homosexual sex) from who you are at the core (someone who is, by nature, attracted to the same sex)?

    A Christian author whom I respect put it this way: what separates homosexuality from "other sins" is that I, as a fallible human being, can always, at some point, be tempted to commit adultery, to steal, to drink to excess, to lie or cheat when it's convenient, etc... but I can NEVER be tempted to lust after a woman because I'm simply not wired that way. Maybe you might not agree with this viewpoint, but it's certainly one way to look at things.

    As for the government, my take is that so long as it legislates benefits to married couples that unmarried couples do not receive (such as tax breaks, inheritance, and visitation rights), the topic of same-sex marriage is an issue that the government is going to have to deal with, one way or another.

    I absolutely agree with your bottom line that Christians should show love and compassion to their fellow human beings. I believe that the best way to perform this "directive" to evangelize Christ to the world is not by going door to door with a Bible, but by showing Christ's love to everyone you encounter. It's about time more Christians did this, and combat the negative image people have of so-called "Christians" who, unfortunately, do embody "hate the sin and the sinner"! I also think this applies to fellow Christians, as well :-) I do not agree with our church's stance on homosexuality, but I love and respect its people very much, and stay because of them.

    whew! Sorry this turned into a whole 'nother blog post (and I did borrow some items from a previous post I'd written a couple years ago)... I will be interested to see what kind of discussion your post generates :-)

  2. I'm wrestling through a lot of the same stuff, too! In Nov. Minnesota is voting on the issue (it's like a prop 8 throwback, haha) so i'm having to think through this once again. On one hand, if I do believe that it is destructive behavior and doesn't glorify God.... I don't want to support it. On the other hand, I do not ever expect nonbelievers to follow the bible. It comes down to that age-old question of, "Do we legislate morality?". This libertarian-at-heart is not jiving well with it. I honestly believe that we should take marriage OUT of the government's hands. For more info on this topic... see this article:

    **Warning.... there are definitely some holes to his argument, and he comes off insensitive. But you'll get the idea**

    Anyway, I'm trying to sift through what my conscience is telling me. I don't like the position I'm being thrown into, that's for sure. I will most likely vote against it, but that's another story. And about chickfila.... I think it is silly for people to barricade against a company because of the CEO's personal beliefs. I still eat Ben and Jerrys and they have WAY different moral/political beliefs than I do! That's supposed to be America. But whatever.

  3. Tabitha, this was very beautiful. I loved it and couldn't have said it better. I completely agree.


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