First of all, you should know this is going to be a post about religion. It is directed from a religious person toward religious people.
I know that a lot of the people who will read this are not Christians and don’t ever plan on taking up that particular cross and I want you to know that I am not here to change your mind on that. I’m writing this to correct what I think is a sickening oversight in modern Christianity, but if you want to read it anyway, I’ll do my best not to get too preachy.
I’ll get to it then.
“I don’t hate the sinner; I hate the sin.”
This is a plague, a rot in our souls that we parade about like it’s a peace flag destined to bring our “enemies” flocking to our side. “Our side,” like it’s some kind of war between churchgoers and the heathen. “I don’t hate that you’re gay; I hate that you have gay sex.” I’ve heard this and variations of it often and I cringe every time.
Tell your car mechanic, “I don’t hate that you’re a mechanic, but you do terrible work.” Does that sound like an intelligible thought to you? Are those words you would deliberately conjure together and deliver as a representative of who you are? Of course we don’t hate the occupation, or the sexual orientation or religious conviction. How could we? Those are just titles we give to people who perform certain activities. We disconnect the two in rare cases we don’t want to face head-on because it’s our only defense mechanism against whatever it is we’re afraid of about these people.
When Jesus came into our world, he spent time with people from every walk of life. The religious people of his day called him a drunkard and a glutton because he ate and drank with “sinners.” Did he care what they thought? Did he care about all of the sins these people committed? In every instance that Jesus is specifically mentioned in the Bible as having spent time with a religious outcast (for whatever reason,) he was more concerned about them than the things they did. He asked questions, searching to understand them.
Because that’s who he was. He lived his life specifically with the intention of setting an example for those who would follow.
And what do we do? We whine and we moan and we complain because “that guy” came out of the closet. “We always knew he would,” we say, and then turn around and lament that he wasn’t raised in a more “godly household.”
For the record, I AM SORRY for people like this. I AM SORRY that we suck so incredibly hard at living with our own decision to love unconditionally.
Christians, we are called to more and less. We are called to be more than just another cult of failures who pretend to be one thing and do the opposite. And at the same time, we were never asked to pour so much concern into the choices of others. We were told to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, not others’.
In Huckleberry Finn, Huck is presented with a choice. He’s been taught that sinning will send him to hell, and is convinced that he must turn in a runaway slave because it’s the right thing to do. But after writing a note to give the slave up, he changes his mind and says simply, “All right then, I’ll go to hell.”
We praise his choice, because we know it was the right thing to do. Why can’t more of us choose hell over our religious games of right and wrong? Why do we continue to ignore that statute set for us by Jesus and persist in spreading hate and bitterness around us?
When Jesus died, he did not do it just for the ones who have it all together. He didn’t do it just for the ones who needed a little extra grace. He did it for everyone, be they rapist, hipster or gay. He didn’t care then and he doesn’t care now how broken we are or how unbroken we think we are. What he wants is for us to find ourselves in him and live that toward other people.
The rest will come with time, not judgement.
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Done preaching. If you don’t think you’re religious, but you stuck with me through that, thanks for bearing with me. I get that my audience isn’t dominantly Christian and I like it that way. I don’t have a lot to say on the topic of religion in general anyway because there are professionals who do it better. But, in the future, if you’d prefer to avoid these posts, I’ll stick them in the Religious category so you know right off the bat and can give me a hard time about it in my next post.