Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Love is an orientation

  My best friend had been on me a while back to read a certain book, so I bought a copy and added it to my "to be read" stack of books. I finally started reading it a couple of weeks ago and have been slowly making my way through it. It isn't that the book wasn't interesting, but I wasn't sure where the author was going and if I agreed with him. I wasn't sure if he was saying homosexuality is wrong, or if it is OK, yet the book is from a repeatable Christian publisher who would not publish a book that puts a stamp of approval on any sin, so I kept reading.

  When the author, Andrew Marin, was eighteen, he had three of his best friends, two female, and one male, come out to him as gay within just a period of three months. Up until that time, he had been in his own words, homophobic.

  Andrew went on to form the Marin Foundation, an organization that tries to make a bridge between the gay community and the church. He has done some things not many Christians would do. He and his wife moved to the gayest neighborhood of Chicago. He has gone to gay bars, gay churches, spoken at gay conventions, you name it. And he talks to gay people all over. He even has a Bible study for gay people to come to.

  I almost had to read between the lines in the book to find out where Andrew stands, but he does believe homosexuality is wrong - the act. That it is wrong for people of the same gender to have a sexual relationship.

 However, he doesn't go around telling people that, who is he is trying to minister to. He loves them, listens to them, tells them Jesus loves them, and is their friend. He runs shoulders with people who claim to be Christian and gay - as in living as a gay person - and never tells them they are wrong. He has had some of those same people come to the point that they realized they couldn't live as a Christian and a gay person and walk away from it and live for God.

 If you have a hard time with that, you aren't the only one. But he said something in the book that is true, quoting Billy Graham: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and it’s my job to love.” 

 We have made homosexuality out to be the worst sin, or one of the worst. It comes in right above child molestation for a lot of Christians, and equal to, with too many. And it does have consequences that other sins don't. Consequences that chip away at our freedoms, that endanger our youth.

 But the church has lost sight of its mission. Not just in regards to gay people, but other sinners also. We are to love and show God's love. We can criticize Andrew Marin's methods, and I myself wonder what about the responsibility to let people know they will miss Heaven if they keep living the way they are, but I would wager he has won more gay people to Christ than most Christians. He has probably won more people to Christ, period, than a lot of us.

  We Christians are going to start facing more persecution and hate in the coming days. The more the gay agenda gets a foothold with gay marriage, anti-hate speech and hate crime laws, the more our rights will be trampled. Just yesterday, a Republican governor voted down a bill in Arizona that would protect Christians in cases of where they could be forced to photograph a gay wedding, print t-shirts for gay pride parades, etc. 

  I have friends who say we should do it. Andrew Marin would be in that group. I don't  know the answers. Would you want to photograph a wedding of two men or two women? Take pictures of them kissing, toasting, etc.? And they most likely are targeting Christian businesses to make an example of them..... so what are Christians to do? Gay marriage is a mockery of what God intended for marriage, but so is divorce and remarriage. As someone said, gay people are not going to destroy the sanctity of marriage. Divorce, shacking up, free sex, and abortion has already done that. We have no sanctity of marriage.

  I grew up hearing too much about a judgmental God. If there were sermons about God's love, they were few and far in between and I don't remember them. And for all too many altar calls, preachers tried to scare people to the altar. And we'd sing, or have sung to us, songs like "Just As I Am", "Pass Me Not", and other hymns that stir up fear and guilt, sometimes when you are right with God... for me, those songs are so associated with guilt and fear, and of altar calls, I feel like I need to go to the altar after just hearing them. I am not making that up. Why don't we ever use songs like "Amazing Grace", "How Marvelous", "Amazing Grace" - songs that talk about God's love and grace? No, we use songs that are geared to stir up fear and guilt in people, because they are more apt to be scared to the altar. And in the meantime, vulnerable people like me group up missing the message of God's love and grace.

 And the same applies to gay people. If all they hear from the church is how evil and sinful they are, what are the chances of them ever finding God? Of knowing He loves them. That His very nature can let Him do anything but love them.

 We seem to have this idea that we have to beat people over the head constantly with their sin and why it is wrong, but I don't find that Jesus did it. He visited and hung out with sinners. He did have the message of "go and sin no more", but often we see Him just visiting people, loving them, being their friend. His harsh words were reserved for the church leaders of the day. The ones who looked down on the sinners and thought they were pretty good.

  We don't love enough. If we are God's hands, feet, His message to the world, we, pardon the expression - suck at it. Oh, just as the preachers I heard growing up, we have the judgment and guilt thing down pat. How long could we be around someone we know is gay, and not preach at them. Tell them how much they need to change? Yet most of us don't do that with other sins. It is just the ones we find the worst and most detestable.

  I'll let you in on a little secret. Whether you think so or not, you know someone gay. Most likely more than one. A friend, sibling, cousin, parent, spouse...... yeah - there are a lot of people who are attracted to others of the same sex who marry and struggle in silence.... so next time you speak disparagingly of gay people, mock them, act like one in jest..... you could be stabbing someone dear to you in the heart.

  And even if there isn't someone close to you who deals with this, does that make it anymore right or OK to act that way about someone? No. Jesus wouldn't.

  How are we to reach sinners if we mock them? If all we do is tell them how horrible they are and that they are going to hell? If we avoid sinners whose sin or lifestyle is something we find distasteful? Here is a little bit of information we overlook: Any sin is distasteful to God. He didn't come to save just some sinners, but all sinners. He doesn't love people who sin in one way more or less than people who sin in another.

 Gay people are not the only sinners Christians have dropped the ball on, but they seem to be the ones that are singled out to be fought the most. The ones whose sin is so bad that Christians almost see them as being beyond redemption. We feel we have a right to not love them, to not try to reach out to them. And that couldn't be further from the truth. If it is the worst sin, and it is not, not that God measures sins - we are sinners, or we are saved  - but if it is the worst sin, wouldn't the people engaging in it need God the most? Wouldn't they need the message that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them the most?

  We need to stop playing church. We need to stop pulling our righteous robes around us, afraid we will defile ourselves if we get around certain kinds of people. We need to can the attitude that we are not like "them." If we have that kind of attitude, we may be worse than "them".

  These are tough times, and tough issues. I have a friend who says we need to quit worrying about our rights so much, and instead worry about loving people. Maybe he is right. Yet, if you know much about the gay agenda, it is scary, and we should not just step aside and let them accomplish all that they want to do. But what is the answer? Should we do things that cause us to participate in gay weddings, even indirectly? Should we print t-shirts or anything else advertising gay pride parades, or anything pro-gay?

  We cannot keep screaming judgement and hellfire at sinners. We will never win them that way. We will never convince them that God loves them and there is hope. We need to love more, and put actions into our words. Show people we love them and God loves them. Could it cause us some discomfort? Yes. Whoever said being a Christian was easy. But it is time we start doing what God does best: loving. Everyone.

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