Some things that have been percolating on the back burner of my mind and heart have bubbled over recently. Questions. Ponderings…
How do I separate my understanding of/belief in Jesus from my understanding of/experience with Christians and Christianity? So much darkness is in that experience…
What analogy could I offer to a non-LGBT Christian that would give new insight into what Christians are really doing to (against) LGBT individuals? For those in the Church who are divorced and remarried, their situation is a good example. Scripture quotes Jesus as clearly stating that a divorced, remarried person is committing adultery. So here’s what I might say, based on my own experiences:
Imagine that your friends/pastor/community broke community with you because of your new marriage. What if your entire church/denomination judged you to be living against God’s will and fallen into depravity because of your continued adulterous behavior with your new spouse? What if they refused to allow you to serve your community with prayer, or music, or teaching, or whatever your gifts, because you are supposedly filled with demons, led astray by Satan into sin, and thus could pass on, like a contagion, your corruption of spirit to the other congregants? What if some of your friends literally cried in pain to learn of your partnership/union with your new spouse, and said tearfully that they would pray for you to turn your back on your choice of fleshly pleasure, that otherwise they mourned the loss of your soul to eternal torment in hell? What if your friends/community turned their back on you because they hoped the pain of being outcast would be great enough that you would choose to break off with your new spouse and “return to God”?
What if those of your friends who weren’t so sure what those scripture passages really meant, and weren’t so certain that God hated your decision, your love and your relationship, chose to remain anyway in the church community that closed its doors to you? (Could you choose grace through that feeling of betrayal?) What if scripture were quoted over and over, not just by your former friends and church acquaintances, but by countless others in blogs, sermons and books, from pulpits and corner soapboxes (yes, really!) and huge stadium stages—scripture quotes that by some interpretations “prove” that you are and should be reviled and cast out of salvation, solely because you make love with your spouse.
Of course, for those Christians who married as virgins and who have remained married to that same person, that analogy won’t work except to show them their hypocrisy in not treating their divorced/remarried Christian friends the same as they would treat someone who chooses a same-gender relationship.
And for those who are unsure and remain silent, choosing not to get embroiled in the controversy, in the firestorm? How can we open their eyes to the damage they are causing with their silence? By not speaking out, they are underwriting those who do the casting out. By remaining silent to avoid the inevitable fallout that could occur from speaking out in support of those same-gender relationships, they are complicit in the judgment and trauma, and even, some might say, in the suicides. (see my friend Gareth’s post for more on that last.)
But I have to stop here and ask myself: what does any of that have to do with what I understand or believe about God? How much—I’m reluctant to even look at this—how much of my conversion to (and time spent in) Christianity was about the people involved, vs. about God him/her/itself? It’s hard to admit in part because those who remain there in that world will likely jump on that accusatorially. “Aha! You never really knew God anyways!” (Can’t you just see the potential for multi-altar calls in that kind of thinking where we judge others’ journeys? Ugh!)
Well. Maybe I didn’t ever know God. Maybe no one does. The certainty in the preaching and believing is so seductive, and such certainty is usually a big ol’ red flag indication that egos and power-plays are at work.
Sometimes I wonder why I have been so curious about and so bothered my whole life by Christianity, to and through being rejected by it. Perhaps this is simply because it is in my roots, from baptism as an infant to catechism and confirmation and beyond (and back the other way in my ancestry as well).
But my real question is: who, or what, is God? If God is Christian, then,
1. How does it make loving sense that Jesus is the only way?
2. Why is same-gender orientation and love considered depraved and against God’s will?
3. What is the source (and rightness) of Christians’ tendency to judgment and (unholy) righteousness towards others who hold different beliefs?
Fear would answer all three questions sufficiently. So would the Bible. Or perhaps I should say that the way the Bible has been used by many would answer those questions sufficiently.
Which gets back to fear:
• Fear of not getting it right and losing salvation.
• Fear of God’s judgment.
• Fear of God’s wrath.
• Fear of hell.
• Fear of being wrong.
• Fear of death.
• Fear of being unloved and unworthy.
• Fear of losing.
That kind of fear is not where I want to live, love, breathe, journey.
I choose love.
I don’t yet know how Christianity fits in my journey. I don’t pretend to know what it was that Jesus hoped to teach us, but I believe it was about love. I aim to remain open.