Reading through my Facebook feed the other day, I became truly grieved by how some professing a faith based in love are spewing anything but love concerning rainbows and those that support the LGBT community.
Much of this is coming straight from the pulpit as evangelical, Bible literalist seek to shepherd their flocks. The latest rhetoric is a statement put out by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Now, for those who don’t live in the South, this is tantamount to the Pope making a proclamation. It is dictum.
While the statement does promote being respectful and loving of those in a “sexually broken culture,” it very clearly affirms that homosexuals have no place in the evangelical church. Certainly, if I were part of the LGBT community, I would not feel welcome.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. I was immersed in every aspect of the faith. It was real for me. Truly, I bought it all, hook line and sinker. There was a time that I was even self-righteous, thinking that I was actually more spiritually connected than others. It is so easy to do, snuggling in with people just like yourself, in a safe environment for children, with activities planned and caring people all around.
For me, it began to break down when my life hit some real hard places.
Reading the Bible and going to church was simply not cutting it. I got tired of hearing the rote: “It is God’s Will” or “God will not give you more than you can handle.” I have come to realize that what I experienced is not uncommon. That could be the subject of another essay.
I also began to wonder how an organization, in which I was an active member, could not embrace homosexuals. At the time, I did not have a close relationship with anyone in the LGBT community. But this was the impetus for my waking up. I started thinking more critically about everything I was hearing. I began to see a limiting and hypocritical view. And, the church is rife with judgement guised in what commonly is dressed as concern and love.
So, now the focus is on the sinful ways of the gays.
My question: What if, instead of picking on the gays, we sought to ostracize the fornicators? Or the adulterers? Or those with lusty eyes? That would be trouble.
I think a great many of us fall into those categories. In fact, our modern culture is built on these “sins.” Consider all forms of entertainment (movies, television, books, magazines, advertising). An entire economic system would crash sans these sins of the flesh. How about gluttony? That’s more big business—a great parcel of our culture and economy and one that includes many of us. My point is this: by the logic of the evangelicals, we all “sin.” It is disingenuous to single out the one that you do not partake in.
The judgements that mere mortals inflict on another, in the name of God, must cease. God does not call on men for such vigilance. The vigilance He would seek would be rooted in love for our neighbors (as for ourselves). I offer a gentle reminder: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV, Matthew 7:1-2)
Be mindful: Jesus never spoke of homosexuality. He did talk a lot about love and how those that follow Him should be known—by love.
A final thought, and this will make some shriek, not everyone believes in or wants the Bible to be their authority.
We live in a global community where other people are free and happy to think other ways using other Source material. Perhaps, the perennial lesson (or test) for us all is to build bridges and relationships outside our comfort zone and show love toward people not like us.
Condemnation is not the job of people.
Author: Melanie Blenis
Editor: Catherine Monkman