This post is a reaction to a couple things: first, I’ve been re-reading the novel Left Behind, and second, a Facebook friend’s (someone with whom I actually went to college) recent post. Both things made me reflect, as I have in the past, about a mentality that I believe is killing the Church: the “us vs. them,” or “saved vs. unsaved,” mentality that divides everyone into opposing camps. It’s also reflected in recent political debates of Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal. No one seems capable of meeting in the middle.
I’ll start with the Left Behind books. I realize the time to comment on this series is really over a decade past, but I think things have continued to develop since then, based largely on the philosophy espoused in those novels. In Left Behind, there are the “True Christians,” and everyone else. “Everyone else” often includes people who self-identify as Christians, but just don’t follow the premillenial dispensationalist theology of Tim LaHaye and his buddies. I’m quite sure most of the readers of LB see themselves as an embattled minority. They’ve possibly been raised in “dead” churches, and can’t understand why other so-called Christians won’t jump on the End Times bandwagon with them. And of course, they’re worried that the surrounding culture is trying to bring them down. Which brings me to my friend’s Facebook post…
I’ll post the whole original post, just so I can keep everything in context:
Sodomy/Homosexuality/Gay/Lesbian: I am growing so very, very weary of all the Television, Media and Governmental support of Sodomy. God help us all to see through Satan’s deception. This behavior is an abomination to God. There are multiple scriptures throughout the Old and New Testaments that speak of how God detests this perversion. It is not right, no matter how our President or any other person paints it. As much as I love and have dear friends who struggle with this temptation, it is a sinful act that has severe consequences in this life and the life to come. God help us to lovingly, patiently and boldly stand up for the truth, no matter how popular or unpopular it is.
This is nothing new; I’ve seen it so many times before. But it grates on me just about every time. And here’s why: I fail to see how a person can read the entirety of Scripture, in all its magnificent diversity, and come away with the overarching theme of “homosexuality is wrong.” In conservative circles, it’s never divorce, or greed, or poor treatment of widows and orphans, or alcoholism, or fair financial practices. Nope, it’s always HOMOSEXUALITY. That’s the biggie, that’s the one that “our President” is trying to inflict on the rest of us.
My friend claims to stand for the truth. He’s “weary” of always hearing support for “sodomy.” He’s not weary of the incredible acceptance divorce has gained in American society, even though the negative impact of divorce on families dwarfs whatever possible impact gay marriage could ever have. He’s not weary of hearing that all Christians should be Republicans, because liberals hate Jesus. Meanwhile, the example given by Jesus of the oft-quoted “speck vs. plank in the eye” seems to be all about pointing out that speck. And making the speck into a plank!
When it comes to sin, my feeling is that everyone has their own hands full dealing with their own sins. How dare we spend so much time and energy pointing out the sins of others (or what we see as the sins of others)? It’s not even clear to me whether some of the acts spoken of in Scripture, which conservatives see as descriptions of homosexuality, even have anything to do with our modern understanding of a committed, loving same-sex relationship. The Sodom and Gomorrah story? The focus of that is intended forcible sex, or rape, that happens to be homosexual. And Lot responds by offering the would-be rapists his virgin daughters (and he is described in the New Testament as a “righteous” man). The passage in the opening of Romans that lists all kinds of immoral activity? The thing is, Paul goes on to explain that, while the early Jewish Christians are looking down on their gentile neighbors, they have no excuse, since they have the Law. That problem leads right into the classic description of grace. The point Paul is making is not “aren’t immoral people awful?” and “good thing we’re not like them.” No, the point is, thank God we have grace through faith, to deliver us from the sins we’ve committed.
Besides, when it comes to much of the recent debate about homosexuality in the public square, the point is not the morality of the issue; rather, it’s the question of equal rights for human beings. If we outlawed divorce, for example, there wouldn’t be enough room in the jails for the people who broke that law. As much as I detest the idea of divorce, it is a legal right for people whose marriages are beyond repair. I fail to see the difference between that issue and homosexuality. I’ve had fellow Christians say something along the lines of, “well, homosexuals insist on continuing their sinful lifestyle.” Well, if divorce is sinful (which Jesus indicated quite clearly), then isn’t a remarried divorce person insisting on continuing his or her sinful lifestyle? Divorce can absolutely be seen as a “lifestyle choice,” much as homosexuality is described by conservatives. The thing is, I can’t decide for someone if divorce is an option for them or not, because I’m not them. Ditto for homosexuals.
I imagine I will get the occasional negative comment on this post, as I have on Facebook in the past. That’s fine. If you’re reading this, you certainly have the right to disagree with me. But I reserve the right as to whether or not I post your disagreement on my blog. This is still American, and freedom of speech goes hand in hand with freedom to ignore speech. Still, thanks for reading. Go in peace…