This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Embarrassing Christianity

I remember when the word “gay” meant “happy.” (Yes, I’m that old.) But my kids will never be able to use that word in its original definition, because “gay” has come to mean something totally different in our society.

I’m beginning to think that the same thing is happening to the word “Christian.” Merriam-Webster says it means “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

I guess the key word there is “professes.” I can “profess” to be fluent in six million forms of communication, but that doesn’t make it true (or make me C-3P0, for you “Star Wars” geeks).

You can wear the title of “Christian,” but that doesn’t make you one. There are days I am loath to identify with American Christianity in its current state.

“Why?” you may ask. Because Christians are living more and more like the world? Because Christians are becoming more and more liberal?

Nope. Because the Christians who usually steal the limelight are often arrogant, self-righteous, holier-than-thou and condescending to anyone who doesn’t agree with every single tenet of their beliefs.

I have seen it like never before in the hubbub that surrounds the marriage amendment that is up for a vote on the North Carolina Primary ballot on May 8. This proposed amendment to the NC Constitution reads as follows:

SECTION 1.  Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution is amended by adding the following new section:

Sec. 6.  Marriage.

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.  This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

The lines have been drawn, and there is ugliness on both sides. I have seen staunch Christians blacklist those who are against the amendment. I’ve seen committed Christians be too intimidated to admit that they might have reservations about the amendment based on their beliefs that there could be a broader than expected legal interpretation of it which could have implications that reach farther than just a man/woman marriage. I’ve seen ugly comments that border on hatred of anyone who would oppose this amendment.

Call me clueless, but I just don’t get it.

As for the proposed amendment, I don’t understand the pros and cons of it enough to argue either side. I know firm Christians who believe the amendment is the will of God, and I know firm Christians who believe that it is not. (Please realize that not supporting the amendment in its present form doesn’t mean that someone supports homosexual marriage.)

To you liberals: don’t be hating on me, but I personally believe that marriage is a man/woman thing, according to God’s original plan for creation in the Garden of Eden and subsequent scriptures. To you conservatives: HOWEVER, I am not fully persuaded on how I will vote on this amendment. AGAIN, don’t suppose that because someone might be undecided or they have chosen to vote “No” that they are proponents of something other than marriage between one man and one woman. (Then again, they might be, although I personally am not.)

But the marriage amendment is not even the real issue here for me. For all of the people who are arguing that if we don’t affirm the man/woman marriage idea by passing amendments such as this one in NC, the door will be open for all kinds of evil to enter our country and that our nation will go down the tubes, let me say this clearly:

I believe that if you stand on your soapbox with arrogance, condescension, mean-spiritedness and anger against your opponents, it is YOUR behavior that opens the door for evil that could ultimately flush America down the toilet.

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” James 3:16

Why? Because no one expects someone they consider to be a “sinner” to act right. But EVERYONE expects a “Christian” to act right.

Yet we have it backwards. We’d rather “be right” than “be righteous.” I have a Facebook friend who commented tonight: “I must remind myself daily it is more important for me to act righteous than to make sure others know I am right. Humility is a cloak we all should learn to wear.”

It is more important to be loving to those who oppose us than to argue our rightness with them. Does loving them mean we are weak? That we have caved in to the opposing viewpoint? That we have compromised?

God forbid. Why on earth do we equate “love” with “compromise” or “agreement”? We have made love a weak, pansy-pie emotion when it is the strongest force on earth. Yes, the strongest. It was LOVE that made Jesus Christ shed His all-powerful blood on Calvary. It was LOVE that God breathed into Adam–He breathed into Adam to give him life–His breath is His Spirit–and if God is Spirit and if God is Love, then even His Spirit consists of LOVE.

If I hug a known liar, the Christian world looks at that as if I am embracing lying. If I treat a drug addict kindly, then I must be accepting of his/her lifestyle. Right? WRONG.

Stop making love and compassion for a sinner equal to agreement and compromise with sin. These things are not synonymous.

And by the way, I smile at you and treat you kindly, yet you have your own imperfections and sins. The majority of you would probably embrace me and love me, but I sure have my own set of faults and sins. Because we treat each other with kindness and love does not mean we are saying, “Hey, it’s okay. Go ahead and continue in your impatience, arrogance, gluttony, lack of self-control, hatefulness and general sin.”

NO. We are saying that we love each other DESPITE our imperfections and that we pray that we ALL overcome sin in this world by the power of Jesus Christ.

You want to win the sinner? Well, you sure won’t do it with your arrogance “because YOU have never done what they do.” Or your holier-than-thou snubs of these people “because YOU would never fall the way they did.”

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

I noticed the word “meekness” there. And the idea that you and I, too, could be tempted.

But Jesus wasn’t always meek, you say. He got angry in the Temple and overturned tables. He called people “whited sepulchers” and “generation of vipers” and “hypocrites.”

Yep, He sure did. But the people He was coming against were the religious snobs of that day. Those ugly labels were pinned on the Pharisees and Saducees–the religious right of Jesus’ time.

I am conservative. I lean toward the right. But do not identify me with those who parade the title of “Christian” complete with arrogance and condescension.

Jesus wasn’t condescending, yet He didn’t condone sin either. “Go and sin no more,” He said. But He handled each of these sinner situations with love. Find me one instance where He was brutal to a sinner. If He had been disrespectful or snobby, the tax collectors and drunkards wouldn’t have wanted Him to break bread with them.

Again, don’t confuse Jesus’ love with tolerance. He did not tolerate sin, but He loved the sinners and treated them with compassion.

And sinners were drawn to Him because of that. And consequently, lives were changed for the better.

It is the same today. Manifesting the love of Christ through the Holy Spirit–even to those with whom we don’t agree or to those who vote opposite of us on the NC Marriage Amendment–is what will change this world, draw the sinner to repentance and help you and me stop sinning, too.

I have determined to love the people on both sides of this debate. And to my many friends who have a strong belief one way or another on this issue yet have managed to demonstrate integrity and kindness in the midst of your strong convictions, thank you. I am so blessed to call you friends. I feel privileged to be identified with you as Christ-followers.

Christ-follower. I like that. Perhaps until the term “Christian” loses its negative implications brought on by the ugliness of some of its more outspoken professors, I would rather be called a disciple of Christ or a Christ-follower or even a Jesus freak–as long as I am more closely identified with Him than with religious spirits.

Let’s stand strong for the right, but let’s be righteous while we do it.

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Comments on: "Embarrassing Christianity" (12)

  1. I agree. Many politicians are professed “Christians”–and they are clearly anything but.

  2. Carole McGee said:

    Leslie, as usual, you have written words of wisdom. Thank you for this post.

    In my honest opinion though, I don’t think it is just the “the ugliness of some of its more outspoken professors” that has given the word “Christian” a negative meaning. Or that “Because the Christians who usually steal the limelight are often arrogant, self-righteous, holier-than-thou and condescending to anyone who doesn’t agree with every single tenet of their beliefs.”

    I believe the cultural shift against “all” things Christian in America has been going on for many decades. Starting with Nietzche in the 19th century who said GOD IS DEAD, and then someone (I can’t find the quote) amended that to “If God died in the 19th century, man died in the 20th century . Then came marxism/communism/secularism/universalism and the hundreds of other “ism’s” conjured up by “man” and all the efforts to replace moral authority and the Biblical worldview in our country. It was even at the top of the Communist Manifesto agenda.

    And our media is compliant in furthering the “Christian bigot” narrative only and never shows the “In Love” side. We can’t escape the media…..you know!

    Have you ever read Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”. He dedicated it to “Lucifer” and for a reason. That book has opened my eyes to much of what has been happening in our country over the past century.

    I know the haters are wrong. But sometimes, I just have to wonder, because we “Christians” have sat on the sidelines for so long in this cultural quagmire, that we feel like we have to stand up and say “We’re tired of it and aren’t gonna take it anymore”. Christians were the first in tolerance I think, but we have tolerated ourselves right out of the public arena.

    Rightly, or wrongly, We must love the haters on both sides….and as a supposed “civilized” society….have a conversation and not a screaming match. Thanks for letting me ramble

    • I totally agree with you that Christians have stood on the sidelines for too long. I think we SHOULD stand up and say we aren’t going to take it anymore. But we don’t have to be mean-spirited when we do it. (And I know you agree with that.)

      Let me throw a further wrench into this by saying that I don’t believe in tolerance. I don’t believe for a second that Jesus tolerated sin. I believe in love, mercy and compassion which do not equate tolerance. Very tricky line to toe.

      I also agree with you that there are many, many Christians acting in love but that the media tends to focus on the radical, arrogant ones. I, too, wish we saw more of the loving Christians on TV or in the paper, but I guess they are too boring–ha ha. Sad but true. However, the people I am talking about in my blog are the ones I am acquainted with personally or through Facebook. It’s not those I’m seeing in the media (except social media); it’s those right here around me.

      I want to read that book you’re talking about. I will try to find it. Thanks for the recommendation.

      I think that I agree very much with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who definitely stood up against injustice and made a difference–yet he advocated doing it all with no violence or ugliness. It CAN be done; it’s just tough to walk that very narrow path.

      I see the same hatred that disturbs me on the liberal side as well as on the conservative side. But since I am a conservative AND a Christian, I felt that I should stick to talking more about that side. I believe in cleaning up our own house first. Judgment will start in the church.

      Thanks for your “ramblings,” Carole. I love them and you. (And actually, they’re not ramblings; you are a very logical thinker and writer.)

  3. Carole McGee said:

    I would like to amend the last paragraph to leave off the “Rightly, or wrongly” portion. I don’t even know what that means myself.

    • I would like to amend something, too, Carole. In my earlier reply to you, I said that I was talking about local Christians. But I reread the post and realized that before I got into the local Christian/marriage amendment part, I DID mention Christians all over America, especially those spotlighted by the media. Forgive me for the oversight.

      Plus, I wanted to clarify that my main reason for not knowing how to vote on the marriage amendment has to do with the fact that I have stayed too busy (go figure!) to sit down and study it or even pray on it. I can promise you that I will be well-informed by May 8, but for now, I stay out of arguments on either side due to my lack of knowledge.

  4. Troy Brown said:

    Very well written, Leslie… you summed it up nicely. Carole McGee, your comment was spot on. I’m going to plagiarize myself below from a comment I left in a FB group a few weeks ago, to add my two cents:

    I believe there are much bigger issues here. I remember about a year ago, there was a school distric being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Lesbian rights, mid-west somewhere I believe. They alleged that if the school district allows teachers to discuss sexual orientation but requires them to maintain a neutral position, that the school district is then involved in hate speech, bullying, harassment… so the school district (the tax payers!) got sued. That is how ridiculous it has become.

    What we are being told by the news media, by the cocktail crowd on the East river, those inside the beltway, and the Hollywood types is that if you’re not for gays in the military, if you are not for gay adoption, if you are not for gay marriage, if you’re not for anti-gay hate speech, if you are not for making sexual orientation a protected class under the civil rights laws… you are not just wrong but you are an evil, riot-inciting, homophobic, danger to society. How are we supposed to react to that? Become more vocal in our religious beliefs and voting and supporting candidates that are saying unashamedly, “No. Traditional values are right and I adhere to that.”

    And so we’ve got this great social divide. This social divide has come about, in a large part, not due to the people that are adhering to traditional values, but by the radicalism to the gay rights movement on this issue. This issue is not tolerance, it’s not the ability to live your life and be left alone… it is full acceptance through legal means even against the wishes of people who hold different views. That is what makes it explosive. Not only are they demanding full acceptance, as opposed to tolerance, they are demanding government enforced acceptance which adds the explosiveness of it all.

    • Thanks, Troy. I, too, am very disturbed by misguided radicalism on either side. I, too, am hugely bothered by the idea that if you don’t agree with gay marriage and the like, you are labeled by the far left as an evil, homophobic, sad excuse for a human. And on the opposing side, if you don’t agree with the radical right, you are labeled as evil and anti-Christian. Vicious cycle. Mean-spiritedness on both sides is plain wrong. Again, that is the focus of my blog. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.” You can disagree with someone but still be at peace with them. The hubster and I do it all the time with regard to the New York Yankees–ha ha!

      • Troy Brown said:

        Where’s the “Like” button? 🙂

      • Carole McGee said:

        Yes….where is the “like” button! On everything you both said! I want buttons! And how do I post smiley faces on here?

    • Carole McGee said:

      Ha ha….only you Troy Brown would say “plagarize myself”……call the thought police! That was funny! Thanks for the kind words and to your post, Spot on!

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