So, not really sure how to start this gently, so let me launch right in.
But first, a disclaimer. Some of this stuff I've learned the hard way. Because I've messed it up. And I'm sure I'll get some of it wrong again in the future. And maybe I'm getting some of it wrong now. But I also strongly feel that this needs to be said. So here goes.
To my Christian friends:
Either you're a Christian, or you're not. Either you believe the Bible is the holy inspired Word of God, or you don't.
This picking & choosing what you believe, or maybe just what you spout, based on your own opinions, or current societal standings, or what's popular at the moment is not okay.
Either it's the Truth, or it isn't.
Yes, there are some so-called "gray" areas. If what you read in the Bible conflicts with what your mind tells you is logical, then I beg you to spend some time in the Word and in prayer, studying the scriptures that are causing you confusion. Look up the original languages if necessary. Research the background. Read commentaries if that helps. Talk to other Christians whom you trust. But work it out. Don't just assume it's okay to bend the Scripture to make it easier for you to swallow. It's not meant to be easy, it's meant to be truth.
A little vague? Maybe. But in my experience what is a struggle point for one Christian may not be so for another. You see the struggle isn't in the Scripture themselves, it's in how our own experiences, culture, and thinking affect our translation. And since those are different for every individual, so it stands that the struggle points are different as well.
To give you examples, here are some issues that I have struggled with in the past, when what I read in the Bible seemed to conflict with what my own thinking said was logical:
- modest dress
- drinking alcohol
- premarital sex
- relationships with nonChristians
- interracial marriage
For you, those issues might be very black & white, but you may have others that you struggle with that are not a source of struggle for me. Whatever those are, if you find yourself attempting to dismiss or twist Scripture to fit your current way of thinking, or what is popular, or what your culture says is okay, I beg of you to stop and take some time to really study the Word before making a firm stance.
While we're on the topic of sins & scripture, this whole picking-one-and-harping-on-it-as-if-it's-the-only-thing-that-matters thing is getting really old as well.
Now which sin it is tends to vary depending on your church environment, family background, etc. but social media outlets have made it easier & easier for Christians to "gang up" on one particular group of sinners.
And that's just wrong.
The Bible is very clear that it takes just one sin, any one sin, one ounce of impurity, to keep you from the Gates of Heaven. It is very clear that the only way to cover that sin is by the blood of Jesus Christ and accepting him as your Saviour.
Any one sin. That white lie you told your boss. The $5 you didn't give back to your spouse after shopping. Anything. Think back on every little thing you might have possibly done "wrong" in your life. Heck, just in the past week. Without Christ you just damned yourself for all eternity.
The same as anyone committing that "big" sin you've been harping on.
The current trend is homosexuality, right? So let's judge all gay people, blast them repeatedly, and single them out, making them feel alienated and unloved by the Christian community. Because that's the way to win people to Christ, right?
Wrong. So very wrong.
A few years ago the popular sin to bash was abortion.
When I was a teenager (prior to social media linking us all together in this "cause") I heard a lot about secular music, public schools, and women wearing pants. I mentioned I went to an extremely conservative church, right?
Now, I'm gonna backpedal a little bit. Because I want to be clear.
There is nothing wrong with educating yourself (or if you are in a leadership position, other Christians) about different sins, what does that Scripture specifically mean by mentioning that sin, intellectual discussions, etc.
There is also nothing wrong with approaching someone who is entrapped by sin and attempting to educate them, witness to them, etc.
But there's one caveat: it must be done with love. And yes, that can get tricky at times.
Berating, spouting hate speech, judging, rejecting others because they sin differently than you do is not love. It's just not.
And since we're on the topic of love:
I think this is one thing that we as Christians struggle with, but I also think we're getting better at it. At least in my world of experience, I've seen improvement.
God is love.
This doesn't mean you have to love every single thing that every single person is doing. But it is very clear that we are instructed to love... everyone. Yeah, racking my brain here and can't think of one single person the Bible says it is okay to not love.
Yes, we can gently correct those around us. You correct your children, whom you love, don't you?
But so often I see Christians quick to judge and slow to love, slow to forgive.
And quite frankly, Christian or not, how do you want to be known? As someone quick to judge? or as someone quick to forgive? As someone quick to call out faults? or as someone quick to love others unconditionally?
I admit. I struggle with this on occasion myself. It's not always easy to show love to someone who hurt you, or attacked your family. But isn't it in the hard things that we grow the most? So... love.
And before my nonChristian (or maybe more liberally minded Christian) friends think they're getting off the hook, there's more:
I am sick & tired of people claiming to be open-minded and tolerant, claiming to hate intolerance, yelling at people for not being more accepting of everyone then turn around and judge and blast and ream those who think differently than you do.
You don't get to have it both ways.
Either you want tolerance and acceptance of everyone, or you want a world where anyone who thinks differently than you do is fair game.
Don't believe in a higher power? Fine. That's your place on your journey.
But that time you made a joke referencing the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Disrespectful to millions around the world and alienating to the three co-workers who overheard it.
Don't believe in creationism? Fine.
But that time you claimed anyone who didn't believe in evolution was an idiot? How tolerant was that?
Think those picketing abortion clinics should be arrested, screw their First Amendment rights?
But think those gathering in support of gay marriage should be left alone, because they're simply exercising their right to free speech?
Yes, there's a lot of work that Christians (including myself) need to do to really walk the walk.
But the hypocrisy I see from the other side is just as bad. If you want tolerance, you have to live tolerance. And that includes accepting and tolerating those who think differently than you, those you disagree with, even those who you think are just wrong.
To claim that you want tolerance and acceptance, and then in the next breath disrespect, call out, or yell about those who think differently than you do is not only hypocrisy, it ends up undermining your entire argument.
So there ya go. The post that I'm sure will probably upset someone. But that I also think needed to be said.
As always, thanks for checking in.