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God Hates Gays – and other “Christian” Bull-Hooey

24 Aug

Writing about homosexuality and Christianity is a bit like painting my barn.

  1. I am not a professional, and I am poorly-equipped to do a thorough, perfect job. I’m just doing the best I can with what I’ve got.
  2. I know I’m going to miss a few spots. It’s rough wood and there are cracks and gaps and nail-holes. The job will have to dry in the sun for a while and then I’ll have to come back and look at it from another angle before I can see the bare spots. I acknowledge that this first coat just isn’t going to cover everything.
  3. I am pretty much guaranteed to come away splattered in brown – both literally (because that’s what colour the barn is) and figuratively (because when some people read a topic like this one, they can’t help but start flinging the proverbial poo).

Now let’s get to it.

There are an awful lot of people out there who are downright nasty folks and yet they wear a Christianity nametag. Unfortunately, those who claim that God hates gays get an awful lot of press. Their hatred casts a shadow over everyone else who claims Christ, and that shadow chases people away from the love of God.

But let’s look at the day and age in which we live. Hopefully by now we’ve realized that not all white people are slave-traders and not all Muslims are terrorists. For crying out loud, not even all sportscasters are men! Surely we can make it known that not all Christians are hate-spewing bigots.

Lots of people have written in objection to that hateful slogan that keeps rearing its ugly head. Lots of wise and wonderful people. I really don’t have anything new to say on the subject. So why am I writing? Because I want to be very clear about where I personally stand on the issue. I don’t want to just link to other articles and blogs with which I agree. I want to say it in my own words.

God is love. He is all about love. He designed love. He loves us, His cherished pinnacle of creation. He loves us individually and intimately and deeper than we can comprehend. To say that He hates gays is to negate the very essence of Who He is. He does not love you less because you’re homosexual. And He does not love me more because I’m heterosexual. He does not love me more because I’m female or Caucasian or Canadian or a mom or even because I’m a Christian. He just loves me. Pure and simple.

And I love Him.

Because of that relationship, I try to live my life in such a way that others would be drawn into a love relationship with Him. It is not my job to stand in judgment over others. I don’t want the world pointing an accusing finger at me every time I screw up, so I’d rather not point any accusing fingers at others – regardless of whether their “screw-up” is legitimate, perceived by me, or perceived by the culture around me. My job is to show love.

If you have been bullied by someone who tried to blame their hatred on God, I am so very sorry for what that must have done to you. If you have been told that you are less loved, less wanted, less worthy because of your sexual orientation, gender, religious affiliation, race or cultural background, please know that you were deeply wronged. That hatred is not of God and it is not founded in the Bible.

I don’t know if this message will go any further than my handful of subscribers, but if by chance you come across this and you have been a target of ungodly hatred, I want you to know that God is head-over-heels in love with you. Seek Him. Ask Him to make Himself real to you. Please don’t give up. You deserve to know how loved you are. You are worth it.

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47 Comments

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in God

 

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47 responses to “God Hates Gays – and other “Christian” Bull-Hooey

  1. Paul Church

    August 24, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Amen God hates sin but loves the sinner, a great post keep up the good work

     
    • Anita Neuman

      August 24, 2012 at 7:40 PM

      Thanks, Paul. And is your last name actually Church? Cool. 🙂

       
  2. Heather

    August 24, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Very well said, Anita!

     
  3. mel

    August 24, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    you hit the nail on the head Anita yet again…that blog will take you in many directions now I guess! How about how God shakes HIS head at how the “church” and his sainted “christians” treat each other let alone the gays and homosexuals, the muslims, etc. We are a world (christian included) who have screwed up big time!
    So many follow Christ with their feet and hands as well as thier mouths and hearts…but…the few who only “mouth” the words make havoc for the rest and there always seems to be a mess to clean up behind them. I have learned at my young age that God is the most amazing example of love the world will ever know and I need to concentrate and becoming more like HIM and less like ME! It’s quite a journey! keep on trucking sister!! as I too try to draw those around me into a love relationship with the Master of the universe! It’s an incredible experience!

     
    • Anita Neuman

      August 24, 2012 at 7:58 PM

      Speaking of hitting the nail on the head…”More like HIM and less like ME”.
      Thanks, Mel! Have I told you lately that I love you? 🙂

       
  4. C.J.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    A lot of so-called “Christians” like to take words or phrases from the Bible and twist them to make them sound hateful, or condemning, and many other not-so-nice things. Unfortunately, negativity leaves the biggest and longest-lasting impression. I have known so many people who put up a wall between themselves and Christ because someone gave them the wrong impression. We need to keep stepping up as Christ followers and saying, God loves you, Jesus loves you, and I accept you, just like He does. It’s not our place to say what other people should and shouldn’t do, whether it’s right or wrong. “We” have gotten it wrong too many times in the past. We just need to lead people to our loving God, for the simple reason that He wants to be close to them, not because we think they need to be corrected. We have enough correcting of ourselves to do on a regular basis. At least, I know I do!

     
    • Anita Neuman

      August 24, 2012 at 8:11 PM

      I sure do, too! Thanks so much for adding your thoughts here.

       
  5. C.J.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    I usually don’t LOL. I have a very big, opinionated mouth and I try not to get myself into trouble 😉

     
  6. Jennaflower

    August 24, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    Well said my friend – very well said! Xo

     
    • Anita Neuman

      August 24, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      Thanks, my sweet Jennaflower! You need to know I smile every single time your name pops up on facebook. I like you!

       
      • Jennaflower

        August 25, 2012 at 8:08 AM

        Neeters, you make my day! I like you too, my friend :o) Big hugs xo

         
  7. Clara

    August 24, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    All I can say Anita is a big THANK YOU!

     
  8. Don

    August 24, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    Well done! You just hit a grand slam home run.

     
  9. Rob

    August 24, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    Well said Anita. I am a gay Christian who has been bullied by some misguided christian beliefs. Thank you so much for your post and I hope it goes much further than just a handfull of people.

     
    • Anita Neuman

      August 25, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      Thank you for commenting, Rob, and blessings to you in your faith journey!

       
  10. Shannon Smith

    August 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Well said my friend! I believe in the same God who’s very essence is LOVE! I hope and pray that the many people who need to hear this message find their way to your blog. Either because they have been personally mistreated, witnessed a family or friend being mistreated or because they have been mistreating others in their ignorance and trying to package it with some sort of justification.

     
  11. jcmmanuel

    August 25, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Nice blog. Too bad that the first comment already confirms the foolishness of a Christianity that doesn’t understand their Christ: “Amen God hates sin but loves the sinner”. We are not called to hate someone else’s sin. We can love the sinner and hate our own sin in stead – but many prefer to play the judge, while Jesus is known to have said “do not judge, lest you will be judged”. And let the weed and wheat grow up together. Christianity is known for people who judge, not for people who know how to love to begin with.

    No one who does not show the ability to empathize, will be taken seriously in judgment. People see right through that – reality works that way. If God would be hateful then Christians are to be considered hateful. It’s up to Christians to show the heart of the God they believe in. And each christian gets the god he deserves. It’s like a law of the Medes and Persians.

    Are you on Facebook? Google+? I’d like to join you.
    http://facebook.com/jcmmanuel

     
    • Anita Neuman

      August 25, 2012 at 5:46 PM

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love your line about loving the sinner and hating our own sin. That’s my heart exactly!
      If I ever start a fan page on facebook, I’ll let you know. 🙂

       
  12. Tracy Milstead

    August 25, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Thank you for your willingness to address tough subjects and bring truth out into the light! I’ve been thinking along these lines for such a long time and you wrote them out in a way that clearly describes how I feel, along with SO many other believers who do not hate people of any race, sexual orientation, etc… 🙂

     
  13. jcmmanuel

    August 26, 2012 at 6:13 AM

    Thank you, Anita. By the way I received a link to your blog from my friend Diana (you know her from church). But I’m sure I’ve already seen another blog of yours – I remember the nickname you are using (if the author would have been another Anita12345 I would have no memories of it;-)

    Of course you need to be on Facebook – at least a profile page (fan page: only if you’re in control of your susceptibility to fame ;)) But seriously: there are a few good groups on FB where you could have your share. These things need to be discussed.

    It strikes me how ‘biblical’ or maybe rather ‘evangelical’ you write here. For instance when you say about god: “He loves us individually and intimately and deeper than we can comprehend” – I guess you realize not all Christians feel this ‘intimacy’ (Catholics certainly don’t – they are more used to emphasizing respect and distance – but their faith has its own quality of course). Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against that – I just observe the great variety and the variegation within Christianity, I see it as many colors of beauty (at least the beauty part of Christianity, not the moronic side, the fundamentalism etc). But you do realize that Christianity is changing – don’t you? We don’t all have, or chase after, a ‘personal’ relationship with god. Some of us are just respectfully trying to understand what it’s really all about. I am myself highly impressed by the bible – not so much as a divine book though, more as a book written by human beings who have really been on a quest for god – and I suspect they were successful in a number of ways. I feel like they are the giant’s shoulders on which I can – at least partially – stand.

    Gay hatred would not have been such a controversy if Christians would more in general realize how Christianity of the past had already a tradition of accepting those people, and if they realized that although homosexuality was all around in the Empire in the days of Jesus, Jesus didn’t even speak one word about this. He was always seen together with the outcasts, never rejected them.

    Maybe you are familiar with what Marilyn Chandler McEntyre wrote: “Many on the Christian Right are fond of posing the question WWJD?– What would Jesus do? I’d like to remind them whatJesus DID do: He cared for the poor. He did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. He prayed alone. He commanded us to love our enemies. He preached peace. He ate, drank, and lived with ‘tax collectors and sinners’ — the lowlifes and outcasts of his day, while reserving his condemnation for the religious leaders who, from a place of privilege, imposed their legalism and literalism on the people they were responsible for leading. He told his disciples not to oppose the healing work of those outside the ranks of his followers. And again and again he reminded us to care for the poor. (That moral issue gets more air time than any other in the gospels: 1 verse in 9.)”

    Take care.
    J.

     
    • Anita Neuman

      August 28, 2012 at 9:34 PM

      Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond, J. I was travelling with my family over the weekend and didn’t want to just answer you flippantly (which is how I would’ve sounded, given how little time I had).

      I like that quote from Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. I like it a lot! Thank you for adding it here for everyone to see. I completely agree!

      I’d like to answer your comments about the personal and intimate nature of our relationship with God. True, not all Christians feel this way. I think they (and you, it seems by what you’ve said here) are missing out on something truly great. I believe that Jesus stepped out of all the glory of heaven and bound himself in human flesh so he could walk among us and love all those who needed him the most. If that’s not personal and intimate, I don’t know what is! He condemned the religious leaders because they tried to keep him at arm’s length – they trusted in their uprightness and rule-following and respect for Biblical doctrine to save them, and wouldn’t let the affection and humility of the true Saviour stir their hearts. They missed out on what it really means to know Jesus.

      I absolutely do not want to sound judgemental of the journey that you’re on in trying to figure out what it’s all about. So please hear my heart: Your quest is good and the goal is certainly worthwhile. The Bible is a deeply profound and complex book that is certainly worthy of your respect. But don’t hold it at arm’s length. If I may be so bold, I would suggest that you take one of the gospels (John, perhaps, as it jumps right into Jesus’ ministry years) and read it a chapter a day. Before you read each day, pray something like this: “Okay God, if you’re real, if you’re personal, if this book is really yours, I need you to show me.” And then see what happens.

      Let me leave you with a quote from Hugh Halter in his book “Sacrilege”. “It’s the most profound idea of the Christian faith – that the impersonal Word became personal, that theology and doctrine came in the form of fleshy humanity – and it was God’s only way to cut through the bull of religion and nebulous spirituality so that we could get a handle on a truer image of God… What you believe about who Jesus is will be the most important thing affecting who you become, what you do, and how much you experience the living God.”

      Blessings, J. I would love to hear more from you as you continue the journey!

      Anita

       
  14. Deri

    August 31, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    I guess I am one of those people alienated by condemnatory Christians. As a boy growing up near Toronto, I went to an Anglican church. I went to the UK to explore the world and myself, read history and had gender reassignment surgery, stayed in the UK to work, and later to get married. Now retired, and we live in Turkey.

    I have tried many times to satisfy my spiritual urges. There’s a struggling Christian group here claiming to be ecumenical, which I take to mean inclusive. But it’s not, it’s a group of Catholics and they are concerned with dogma and authority, and backbiting. I have studied Islam, but found too many problems for us to accept each other, similarly with LDS, Scientology, and a few other groups. The group that best expressed how I feel were some native Americans in northern Ontario who were trying to preserve the remnants of their heritage. Not many of them here.

    Sometimes I ask about finding a god, I am told to have faith. So I ask how to find faith – “faith is a gift”. How to obtain this gift? – “ask and you will receive”. Ask who, if I don’t believe there is anyone/anything?

    So I don’t have the comfort of belief that keeps many gays and other minorities going despite the hatred they endure; and I am too honest to seek to be part of a community if I don’t share their tenets.

    I watch Sunday webcasts from Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto. They seem to have worked through the debates and issues you see above, and have moved on to establish a generous and caring community. I envy them.

     
    • Anita Neuman

      August 31, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      Oh dear Deri, I wish I could wrap you in a huge hug and have you over for lunch with my family! I’m so sorry for the hatred and judgement that has been forced upon you by people who really should know better. I hope that the specific ones who hurt you in the past have since grown in their own faith and come to a better understanding of Jesus’ love for all of us. But I’m so sorry for the damage already caused.

      I wish I could promise you that from now on, the Christians you meet will always speak the truth in love and embrace without judgement. Sadly, they probably won’t. They are imperfect, impulsive humans just like you and me. I can’t even promise that I won’t say the wrong thing or react poorly to various people and circumstances. So if you’re looking for God and trying to figure out what Jesus is all about, sure, ask people who seem to know Him. But you already know not to put your whole faith in how they respond. Your best bet is to go straight to the source. Even if you’re not coming from a position of belief, a position of curiosity and searching is a great place to come from! I would suggest picking up a Bible and, like I mentioned to another reader, start by just reading the Gospel of John. As you read, ask God (even if you doubt His existence) to show up. Ask Him to make Himself real to you. Ask Him to help you understand what you’re reading so you can make an informed decision about what to believe.

      I would love it if you keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing.

      Blessings,
      Anita

       
  15. Susan Harding

    September 1, 2012 at 1:55 AM

    I am a Christian and when I went through some difficult times, it was a homosexual man who was kind when others – including Christians – weren’t. I think it is very important to keep a healthy balance and to understand that God loves us even while we are sinners, but he HATES sin, WE ALL ARE VERY SINFUL, and whether we like it or not, homosexuality is regarded by God as SIN, and not a small one. God cannot ignore or let sin pass and those who sin will do themselves a great harm, possibly lethal harm. I am not judging, accusing or condemning, I have been there myself, not as a homosexual but there is not one way to sin but very many. We are taught we are ALL sinners, and that God forgives sins, but we are also told we must repent of our sins and sin no more, and teach others to do the same. Otherwise we are MISLEADING others and as it says in the Bible the blind should not lead the blind unless they both fall into a ditch. All this does not preclude love. I believe homosexuality is something that people can often put behind them, as many have. when they have realised that God knows best and He means what he says. Open and healthy discussion means that people are allowed to say the truth as they see it and this is how I see it and I am not alone.

     
    • Anita Neuman

      September 1, 2012 at 8:26 AM

      Yup, we are definitely all sinners, lost in a sinful world. But the same grace that saved me from my sins (plentiful and varied) is available to everyone else. Everyone. Beyond that, I believe the context for confronting sin in other people needs to be within an established, loving relationship. It is not my job as a Christian to go around telling people how sinful they are. It’s my job to be the hands and feet of Christ – to love and serve the people around me.
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and contribute to the conversation. Blessings on you and yours.

       
    • Deri

      September 1, 2012 at 8:48 AM

      I am grateful to Anita for this discussion, and to you Susan for your contribution. I am not gay, but because I had a change of sex I am often included in condemnations from religious and reactionary people. Of course I am included by gay people when they object to such condemnation and consequent persecution.

      Not being religious in any formal sense, but aching for some kind of spiritual life, I try to follow arguments like yours to see if they have any validity in my life. I hope you can tell me:
      – why must I regard myself as sinful?
      – why must people repent of homosexuality? It does not seem to be a choice, but an element of an individual’s creation. In that sense, it is like telling someone to repent of red hair. Your belief that gays can deny their sexuality is in error.
      – in my case, I chose to have surgery and to live my life as a woman. Have I sinned in wanting to be like you? Have I sinned because I chose not to suicide as a man? I can assure you that nobody influenced my choice, except to put pressure against it.
      – Like many gays, I have been shunned by family members, ostracized by former friends, denied equality in many aspects of life. Do you seriously believe we choose this?
      – I know, and know of, gay people who believe they are Christian. They affirm their sexuality, and also their faith. Do you deny their validity?

       
      • Anita Neuman

        September 1, 2012 at 10:34 AM

        Great questions, Deri. And I’ll refer back to my barn-painting analogy: I don’t really feel qualified to give perfect, biblical answers that will satisfy all the layers of what you’re asking. But I’ll give you my heart’s response.

        Your first question is comparatively simple. We’re all sinful. Even without the homosexuality/trans-gender etc. debates, we as humans have all done things (both willfully and mistakenly) that separate us from the perfection and glory of God. We’ve lied, spoken in unfair anger, acted selfishly, showed disrespect, taken things that don’t belong to us, had lustful thoughts and/or actions… There are just so many things that are a part of our human nature on a daily basis that, left unaddressed, keep us from God. However, God offers forgiveness and grace to those who choose to accept it. So now, although I know I’m not perfect, I also know I can come to God forgiven, clean, and accepted by Him.

        As for your following questions and comments, I have no easy answers. I knew these questions would come when I first wrote the post and I was terrified. (I still am.) I wish we could sit down face-to-face and talk about it…so I could tell you over coffee that I don’t know how to answer you. I don’t know what it feels like to be homosexual. I have no personal experience of feeling like I was born the wrong gender. I have never been ostracized by the people who are supposed to love me the most. There’s just no possible way for me to ever say that I understand what you have been through and how you feel. Likewise, I am in no position to mete out judgement on you. I am not going to point my finger at you and condemn you for who you are or the choices you’ve made in your life. If there’s any pointing to be done, it’s to point you in the direction of a loving heavenly Father who created you and loves you more deeply than you can ever imagine. He longs to pull you into His embrace and pour out His unending affection on you. And as your relationship with Him deepens, He is the one who will address the sin in your life – and whatever that sin is, it’s between you and Him. Just like my sin is between me and Him.

        I know there are people who have chosen to discontinue a homosexual lifestyle because of their relationship with God. That’s between them and God. I also know there are homosexual people who have a relationship with God and who am I to deny their validity? It’s between them and God!

        I don’t have solid, easy answers for you. I’m sorry. I feel woefully inadequate. What I know is this: if you walk into my church on a Sunday morning, as a gay/lesbian person, as a gender-reassigned person, as WHATEVER, I will not show you to the door. Nor will I avert my eyes and hope you didn’t notice me noticing you. I will show you around, bring your kids to our child-care areas, get you a coffee, introduce you to my friends, and invite you to worship with us.

         
  16. C.J.

    September 1, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Hi Deri,
    I consider myself a Christian, in the sense that I follow Christ. I never heard Him say that being gay is a sin. To be perfectly honest, what I gather from the bible is straight men sleeping with straight men is a sin. (That’s in a nutshell). And I have personally known homosexual men and women, and do not think for a split second that they have chosen it, or that it’s wrong. I think it’s ridiculous that our of all the things the Church could choose to make an issue over, it’s that. I think there is a huge difference in doing something that temporarily satisfies (falling into temptation), and doing something that feels right and natural. I certainly did not choose to fall in love with my husband, that’s just how I feel, and I understand perfectly that it is the same with anyone who falls in love, regardless of orientation/race etc.
    I am with Anita: Knowing God and Jesus is a personal thing, and no one can paint an accurate picture or give you a list of steps of how your walk will be. Forget what everyone else says, and try to find Him in your heart. I tried for years, gave up, and one day everything changed. It’s all between you and God, not about joining a group, fitting in, or being a certain way.

     
  17. Deri

    September 1, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Hi CJ & Hi Anita, thanks for kind and considered advice which I promise to explore and to try to pray about. I intended my questions for Susan Harding, who differs in opinion from yourselves. Although I think that Susan may not be able to justify her comments, I certainly feel that her intention is not evil and she should be heard.

     
  18. jcmmanuel

    September 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Hi Anita,

    Thanks for your friendly comments. Clearly we are all falling in love with you here (lol) so be happy you don’t have a million readers yet here, how would you possibly manage that?;)

    Sometimes a single phrase or thought says it all. When you wrote in a comment here: “I believe the context for confronting sin in other people needs to be within an established, loving relationship. It is not my job as a Christian to go around telling people how sinful they are” — Well, that’s simply so freaking good it has to be true and Christians should, I think, feel it in their bones, how true that is. Being right doesn’t make us good of course, but when something is clearly good, it is certainly also true. And when we say ‘good’, what we really mean is:,inspired by real, authentic, fresh, vivid, giving Love. I wish you keep that spirit and I certainly want you on my friends list (on Facebook church;-))

    On the faith thing – your last response to me here, I understand and appreciate your point of view. Generally speaking the way we believe reflects a lot about where we stand, but I don’t think of it as positions on a racetrack or something. For instance we may probably both realize that God does not fit in a book, but we have a different idea about how the bible reflects something about the divine. Dramatic as this may sound on a first hearing, in the end is is still the divine that we are reaching for, as our ‘higher reality’ (not disconnected from the reality on the ground though). The bible has those things about God that other religions do not have, especially this very strong focus on compassion, forgiveness, so it is not something I will loose sight on any time soon.

    But I’m aware of the dangers of getting struck with our heads in orthodox views, or even just in interpretations of ‘the book’ that we inherited from the past, without there being any guarantee that God ever wanted anyone to stick to the bible as a ‘Guide for every day’ – because even that is a concept which is more Protestant/Evangelical than it is a First Century Christian kind of thing.

    The emphasis, even obsession, with sin that many of ‘us’ (Christians) suffer from is endemic of this situation. Sin is not something we should ignore in our own lives, but we also shouldn’t forget how Jesus was often seen in the company of sinners and outcasts – and we have no case where it looks like he was judging those people. How the heck did we lose sight on the obvious? Isn’t it the way this bible has been used and re-explained until we can’t even read this book anymore with a fresh mind? People are not objects, therefore no one can tell about someone else how someone relates to ‘sin’. We cannot take a bible verse that seemingly speaks about homosexuality (in reality mostly in a context of promiscuity or ritual) and apply it to people today saying “The bible condemns this as sin”.

    And BECAUSE Christianity didn’t see this and don’t get that anymore, the whole world is now looking at Christians as “those people who do nothing but point fingers at others”. And they are RIGHT about that. Most Christians, I guess, do not really see or understand that when once it becomes clear that Christians are not reminding anyone of Christ anymore, then maybe others (including atheists) may well take over. Someone has to DO these things (unrestricted love, compassion, empathy, and SHOWING an example rather than judging others) and if Christians don’t others will.

    However, the picture is not so much in black and white. There are many Christians who remind of Jesus and that’s a great thing. I am really a fan of Christian faith – just very suspicious of how the label ‘Christian’ is being used today. It seems to me that at the very heart of Christian faith there is compassion, and forgiveness. Therefore, at the very heart of it, there cannot be a judgmental attitude. As long as we are hooked on what others do, rather than on our own duty to love and not judge, I would think we did not understand Christian faith.

    Just my 2p opinion. (Sorry if I seem to inundate you with comments – it was not on purpose – I’m probably just being inspired by your interesting blog and comments)

     
  19. Anita Neuman

    September 2, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Ah, J, you are keeping me on my toes! And that is a good thing. My toes need the exercise. 🙂 So keep the comments coming. I think this dialogue is fascinating and helpful for others who are working through similar questions.

    I’ll just pick one of your points to discuss further at the moment. You said it is the Divine we are reaching for. I see it the opposite way. The Divine made it much simpler by reaching for us first. I know there are a lot of differing views on a lot of different theological points within the spiritual journey, but it can all be boiled down to that oh-so-famous verse found in John 3:16: God loved the world so much that He sent His one and only Son to us, and whoever believes in Him will not die, but have eternal life.

    Have a blessed day! I’m heading off to church now. 🙂

     
  20. jcmmanuel

    September 2, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Be careful, I have a toe fetish;-) – although that’s more of a Facebook joke with my friends, so don’t worry too much about that one.

    I can agree with your John 3:16 on one condition (maybe not for you, but certainly for others who have been quoting this often) : if God is really God, then He must be big enough to offer this life even to people who are not aware of Jesus this way – and who are, for reasons that only God knows, suitable to receiving it on the very basis of whatever God has done. A smaller God is unthinkable. And if ‘knowing’ about John 3:16 would be the precondition, that would mean it depends on human insight (knowledge) whether or not people are qualified to receiving the gift. The concept of receiving through secret knowledge was very Gnostic and little Christian though. To me that would be nothing short of elitism, and has nothing to do with a real great God-creator.

    So yes: seeing things from a “He loved us first” perspective can be very helpful, if we understand that ‘us’ is not the Christians, but mankind, all of God’s creation.

     
    • Anita Neuman

      September 3, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      Absolutely He loved all of mankind first, not just Christians. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We didn’t earn His love or His sacrifice by being religious or in any other way worthy.

      But to remove His standard of perfection and minimize the need for our personal/individual acceptance of His sacrifice, is to deny His holiness. And then He wouldn’t be God. Yup, that does sound elitist, but Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So does that mean that everyone who hasn’t had the chance to hear such a specific salvation message is doomed to hell? No, I don’t think so. People who hear the Gospel message and deny it will miss the boat (so to speak). People who seek and ask will find and receive – God is big enough to make Himself known to those who are truly searching for Him. That said, Christians also have a responsibility to point others in the right direction by sharing that Gospel message.

       
  21. Saved Sinner

    September 3, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    I do not write from a place of judgement, although I’m sure my words will be misinterpreted that way. I am a Christ follower and I would just like to clarify that God does love the sinner and hates the sin. That is the whole message of the Gospel. We are ALL sinners, NONE OF US are worthy of salvation, and yet God loves us so much that He sent His perfect Son to die in our place so that we could stand justified before God. In order to receive this sacrificial gift of grace, WE must repent of our sins and put our faith in God. This doesn’t mean that Christians will not struggle with temptation and sin. What this does mean is that no matter what the sin, those who claim Christ must make an effort to turn from sin. We are not saved by works but by grace, but we seek to live sanctified lives that emulate Christ as a witness to others and as an act of love in response to God’s sacrifice. I don’t know how to share the Gospel message to others without pointing out that God hates sin. He hates your sin and He hates my sin. That is precisely why we need God. I am wary of those who choose to either neglect completely or belittle this fact. God is a God of love, but He is also just and righteous. We can’t emphasize one aspect of God that’s easy to swallow and ignore another that makes people uncomfortable or dare I say convicted.

    For those who seem to think that the Bible does not speak against homosexuality as a sin, I’d just like to offer Sodom and Gomorrah up as an example. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders.” No matter how “right and natural” homosexuality feels to homosexuals, murder feels to murderers, rape feels to rapists, lying feels to liars, theft feels to thieves, sin is sin and the Bible condemns it. If judging whether or not things feel “right and natural” to you is your only qualification for acting upon your impulses, then I am sorry to say that you are in deep trouble. We Christians need to be careful with our words; sharing a Christ that does not hate sin is blasphemy. Being truthful about the fact that Christ hates sin is not denying the truth that Christ loves sinners. If God didn’t hate all sin there would have been no need for Him to send His Son to die in our place. In sending Jesus to earth to die, God made it clear that He hates sin and yet loves humanity enough to sacrifice His Son for us.

    Homosexuality is not by any means the only sin that the Bible condemns, but be clear: the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. Face it.

     
    • Anita Neuman

      September 3, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Your summary of the gospel message in your first paragraph is spot-on. But I don’t think that taking specific verses and using them to condemn and excommunicate people is Christ-like at all. He didn’t go around blasting people for their sin; He got to know people (sinners through and through!), He had meals with them and went on long walks with them and built relationships founded on trust and love. And as His followers came to a better understanding of who He was, they loved Him and wanted to be like Him. That’s when sin can be addressed. Look at the example of the woman caught in adultery. Yes, obviously she sinned. There are plenty of verses that Jesus could have quoted to tell her what a horrible person she was and make an example of her in front of the whole crowd. But He didn’t. And neither should we. He didn’t choose to stone her. And neither should we. I know that sin needs to be addressed and labelled and dealt with, but that should first be left between the siner and God. And if there comes a point when a third-party influence is required, that has to happen within the context of a trusting, loving, personal friendship. When you speak condemnation to someone you don’t even know, you get a response like poor Deri just gave: “I will be looking elsewhere for a spiritual connection.” That breaks my heart.

       
  22. Deri Pocock

    September 3, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Dear Saved Sinner: despite the humane, compassionate care expressed by Anita and others in this discussion, I feel that you express the majority verdict. Thanks for making it so abundantly clear. The book that you and most Christ-users does indeed have passages that can be used to condemn and persecute sexual minorities.
    I will be looking elsewhere for a spiritual connection.

     
    • Anita Neuman

      September 3, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      Deri, I am so sad to hear that this is the conclusion you’ve come to. Human opinion and input – whether majority or not – including mine, is flawed. It’s all opinion, filtered through a huge variety of worldviews, experiences, cultures and upbringings. If you want to know what God’s heart for you is, you have to go to Him about it. I know you’ve already said you don’t even believe that He’s out there. I believe that He is there and He adores you and He will make Himself real to you if that’s what you want. If you’d rather withdraw from this conversation, I can’t fault you for that. But I’ll be praying that you find your way.

       
  23. Saved Sinner

    September 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    The verse that I used was not used to condemn or excommunicate. It was used to show that the Bible is clear on what is sinful. I am in no position to judge others, I am only relaying what the Bible says. I did not use that verse to condemn anyone. I do not like the hesitation or confusion that seems to surround the issue of homosexuality as a sin, because to me the Bible is clear that it is just as it is clear on other sins. I am not trying to point out anyone’s sin. I did not address anybody in my post. My point is to say that we are all sinners in need of salvation. If you struggle with homosexuality and are wondering whether or not homosexual acts are sinful, I am pointing you to the Bible! Christ did develop relationships with sinners, and I believe reaching out to the world is key to His mission. Of course we are to love and pursue those who do not have Christ! I did not say that we are to reject sexual minorities. But while Christ did accept and forgive sinners (just as we should), he did tell the adulterous woman to “go and sin no more”. While we are accepted by Christ as sinners, we are called to turn from our sin.

    We need to love each other as Christ loved us, and I agree that pointing out sin in another is to be dealt with carefully and prayerfully in a close relationship based on trust. This is what accountability is all about. It is not my place to point out the sin in another whom I am trying to demonstrate Christ’s love to. I agree that that belongs to God. I did not point out the sin in another with my comment because it was not addressed to anybody. The point of your post, I’m assuming, was to address whether or not God hates gays. I made it clear that the Bible says He does not, but that He does love all mankind. I apologize if my manner came across as accusatory; that was certainly not my intention. I just want to ensure that we are passing on the proper message and not sugar-coating or neglecting anything.

    Deri, I will pray that you would open your heart to the Creator, but I would also like to ask that you not look to other Christ followers in your search for a spiritual connection. I am a sinner and as much as I might try, my words and actions may not always reflect Christ. Search for Him and then make your decision.

     
    • Anita Neuman

      September 3, 2012 at 2:57 PM

      Thanks for the follow-up. I confess I’ve been writing rather ambiguously (as my pastor has lovingly cautioned me about) as to whether or not homosexuality is sin. That has been intentional, even though I knew it could come across as sugar-coating or neglecting. I can’t blame you there! But I was hoping the focus would remain on the fact that God does indeed love gay people and Christians who claim otherwise don’t speak for the rest of us.

       
  24. jcmmanuel

    September 3, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    God may hate sin but to derive from this a calling for Christians to hate sin is, in my opinion, bad theology. Christians should hate their own sin and not judge about others. “Judge not lest ye be judged” is non-negotiable (yet we always find ways to let it say the opposite).

    Even phrases like “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” are essentially not very biblical either. We should not connect different things this way, because it essentially sounds like “I love you but in reality I shouldn’t”. Or: “I love you but it is not possible for me to only see you – I also see your sin and oh boy, if you just realized how ugly that makes you look”. Christians seem to be on a “mission to enumerate all sins of the world all the time” and then they are surprised their love has become invisible.

    The very idea of putting together an expression of loving kindness with a warning about god’s vengeance has a price: people will see the vengeance and not the love. Again, just read those gospels. How Jesus really acted. Unless Christians get into that kind of spirit, they will always get their focus wrong. Love is even capable of “covering sin” (isn’t that 1 Peter or something) – which simply means that sin does not always have to be made public, or being mentioned. Christians can trust god to do some work in other people on the basis of a new life and mind growing in them – Jesus had this trust, that’s why he didn’t judge the woman in John 8. He didn’t have to. He knew it’s easier for people to change if no one is telling them already how sinful they are.

    “Love is patient”, remember that one? Love “keeps no record of wrongs”… this is more than just talking about sins of the past. It is also that love can see through what we think is wrong, and see the possibilities and ‘goodwill’ in a person. “Love does not delight in evil” doesn’t just mean love has no pleasure in sinning, clearly it also means love has no pleasure in pointing fingers all the time. Christians sometimes really love talking about sin way too much. There are good reasons to suspect such a thing. Love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” – Wow.

     

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