On June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States legalized marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. I found this out when I logged onto Facebook. As I scrolled through my news feed, I was admittedly disappointed and flustered. But this was not due to the plethora of rainbow profile picture changes beginning to clutter my screen, nor the links shared to articles detailing the decision. Rather, I was staggered primarily by many of the posts-- from quick remarks to lengthy diatribes of both support and dissension-- from fellow Christians.
Since June 26th, 2015, I have read more posts than ever across social media from people I have known, liked, and respected that can all too easily be categorized as inconsiderate, judgmental, arrogant, uninformed, impersonal, rude, demonizing, and hateful. I have seen words like perverse, bad, evil, idiotic, moronic, immoral, ridiculous, horrible, and inhuman thrown around casually and publicly referring to other people. I have watched these words be flippantly used to refer to homosexuals as well as heterosexuals and to people both for and against the right of marriage for all citizens. While I may have personally observed more of these comments on one side of the issue than the other, I am trying to stress here that the massive virtual exchange of iniquity was not limited to any one viewpoint.
This post is not going to be about attempting to convince Christians or anyone else to support or to oppose same-sex marriage. In fact, I only write today because my heart broke as I began to see reactions, and I want to urge my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to potentially consider further their reactions to this and to any other past, present, or future developments of both political and personal varieties.
Following the SCOTUS decision, I have seen many Christians express something to the effect of America having a large problem indicated by legality and acceptance of marriage equality. In light of the SCOTUS decision, I was convicted of a separate and urgent problem plaguing Christians that we are not addressing by and large. I'm referring to the problem of our reactions to people and happenings that we disagree with and the issues within these reactions.
Throughout the reactions of fellow Christians to the SCOTUS decision, I see expressions riddled with careless words. I could not help but think of the death and life in the power of words (Proverbs 18:21) as that power is abused. Ephesians 4 details the the ways we are to live with our new lives in Christ and in one such way is to "Let no corrupting talk
come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as
fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (v. 29). How do condemning words build others up? It may be easy to snap back a response that to rebuke in truth builds others up, but even if that is the case, that is not really what I have been personally seeing... In contrast, how do hurtful slurs and publicly aired bitterness give grace to those who hear it?
I am by no means excluding myself from the problem. While I hadn't the slightest inclination to lash out about the SCOTUS decision, I have certainly lashed out, even in small or internal ways, when confronted with people whom I disagree with or who are living in ways contrary to what I believe is right in my personal life-- I very much have made these same mistakes. But, I have realized that as a follower of Jesus, I want to reflect Him in my actions, and to treat others with anything less than love and kindness does not reflect Him at all.
I too have been a Pharisee, I too have proverbially brought forward fellow sinners and cast stones (John 8). I am no better. And I have been sorry for that and will remain so, and throughout my life I have asked for forgiveness from the people I have wronged and from God. This repentance is what we must do as Christians. But that is not the end... after all, don't we believe that this where the Gospel comes in and covers these wrongs that we have all made? That's the best part. God loved us so that despite our wrongs-- our sin-- He sent His son to die the death that we deserved on the cross so that we would have the opportunity to live (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8). Many of the problematic reactions to the SCOTUS decision made "others" out of homosexual people and those who support them and/or their right to marry, casting them as sinners. However, as the Truth I just highlighted recognizes: we all sin. So, I believe that we need to remember the love and grace shown toward all of us in the gospel as we react to anything. Even if we fail sometimes, I volunteer that we must try anyway. We have no right to demonize people even if we believe they sin in any particular way, even if it is different than the way we do. Yet, I am reminded that it is through His grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8).
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Sunday, January 11, 2015
If you encounter someone who is different (maybe they're from another country, maybe another culture. What the difference is doesn't really matter.) than you in some way or another, how do you interact with them? How do you see them? What do you think of them? What if someone has a different opinion that you on something (you appreciate Plato's Phaedo//they don't. You like oranges//they like apples. You're a liberal//they're a conservative. Whatever.)? Maybe they look just like you (or they don't), or maybe you know them well (or you don't).
I think it's beneficial to consider this-- to try to be conscious of how you treat people who are different than you-- regardless of who you are or what your beliefs are.
As for me personally? I'm a Christian. I think that if I call myself a Christian, my beliefs should vastly affect how I treat others-- those who are different than myself in any which way included. How so? My beliefs dictate that I should love them. I believe that if you're using following Christ as an excuse to do anything less, then you should verify that you're following the right guy. I fail sometimes, I know I do, but admit that and I'm trying. Christians talk about loving one another so often that it's commonplace. It should be; it's important. But we shouldn't let the frequency subdue the significance. It's imperative: Christ is love, and we are His ambassadors.
I leave you with better food for thought than I could ever produce:
"Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs."-Proverbs 10:12
"“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?"-Matthew 5:43-47
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."-John 13:34
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."-Philippians 2:3-7
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."-1 John 4:7-12