I recently started reading a book by Preston Sprinkle, “People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Not Just an Issue.” This post isn’t about homosexuality, but it is, like this book, about how the church treats people. Preston Sprinkle illustrates, quite profoundly, the biblical basis for homosexuality, and yes it isn’t something God likes or condones, but no where in the bible does it condone the horrible behavior Christians are conducting today in the name of God. As I read through the pages I sympathized and identified just how much of the behavior “Christians” exhibit today is not biblically based.
Growing up I had an amazing early education. Vicar Nicky Gumble spent a year at my little church in Oak Harbor when I was 7. His time there radically transformed the church and the people in it. He also taught us children that Jesus was our friend, something that stayed with me and transformed my view of what it meant to be a christian and how to act toward others. I saw God as a loving Father and Jesus and my friend; My friend I could talk to about anything and who would love me unconditionally, no matter what I did or didn’t do. God was forgiveness, acceptance, and above all else, love.
As I grew up, the church changed, people moved away and new people came. We got a new Priest, and as all things in a military community do, things changed. Try as they might, that same sense of unconditional love evaporated. Yet my understanding of what it meant to be a christian never changed. By high school I was lost. I was in church, but there was a new set of rules. My christian friends all knew these rules, but rather then love and accept who I was, I was given doctrine and law, judgment and guilt.
Since that time I have stayed away from most christians outside of church. I even stopped dating christians in my early twenties. From my experience Christians are mostly law, doctrine and judgement. While they spout scripture, they still retain the same manipulating and controlling behaviors as the rest of the world. I’ve always felt I had to conform to be accepted, to give up my independence and my creativity to be accepted in christian circles. Then there was my lack of a christian partner that would eventually separate me completely.
Yet I never forgot Jesus was my friend.
While I may not be a homosexual, or living a “deviant” lifestyle, I feel the hurt and anger of the LBGTQAA community. They have every right to be angry and bitter. Parents who disown their children, kick them out when they find out they are gay, I just don’t understand. Jesus is love, so what would Jesus do? Jesus loves you, no matter the sin. You might walk away from the life Jesus has planned for you, but He never, NEVER, stops loving you. Catholicism may have the Seven Deadly Sins, but God doesn’t.
Since I was seven I have known God loves me, Jesus is my friend, unconditionally. When I was in high school and people started using God against me, “What Would Jesus Do”, all I have ever heard ringing through my head is, “Love.” “If you do that, Marianne, I just can’t be your friend anymore, think about what God wants.”
“Well first of all Stacey, what you are doing isn’t out of the kindness of your heart, in fact its the opposite, you are trying to manipulate and control me and that is the Spirit of Witchcraft, my dear. Secondly, Jesus is love. So what would HE do? He would Love!”
If only I had known the first part, the second part of the retort would have make more sense. But all I had back then was the strong conviction that Jesus loved me no matter what and that there was nothing I could to do loose my salvation. I grew to learn that taking God out of friendship yielded better friendships, and today that hurts me to admit but it was incredibly true!
My christian friends were always judgey, and used the bible to manipulate others into doing what they wanted. “God doesn’t want me to go to Sara’s house tonight, but He does want me to have everyone over here to watch movies.” Yeah, okay Todd, it would be better if you just said that You didn’t want to go to Sara’s house because you really don’t like her and you want to be the center of attention at your own house.
I’ve come to realize, as I’ve matured, that not everyone had the firm foundations in Jesus that I did. I didn’t even realize what a foundation stone that Nicky Gumble was in my life. (Yes, the Vicar of HTB in London, that guy!) My life still lacks christians, most of my besties are all heathens, my husband is an atheist as most get, but I am as close to God as I have ever been. Let me leave you today with the best worship song, on that resonated with me profoundly when I first heard it. God’s Love NEVER Fails….
This is the real God, the loving Jesus, He is always there, His Love NEVER Fails though is people might. This is why we place our faith not in people, but in God. There is no “christian mold” that we all fit into. God made each one of us unique, and as christians we should celebrate our uniqueness and practice God’s love, unconditional love and acceptance of one another. We don’t give up our convictions in the act of love, the two can cohabitate beautifully, try it.