Sunday, July 3, 2011

Judgmental Christianity

It's happened more than once. I have been chastised a few (thousand?) times for bringing up issues I feel are wrong within the Christian church.
most notably when I bring up anything to do with homosexuality or gay marriage. It seems to be a huge sticking point with a vast number of Christians. However, those issues are in no way exhaustive of the troubles I've encountered.

When I discuss the issue with my fellow Christians, I honestly try to stick to the facts of the Bible, while bringing up reasonable arguments as to why we, as Christians, should broaden our minds in regards to scriptural interpretation.

 I have never stooped to calling anyone, judgmental, closed-minded, stupid, dull, unenlightened or any other offensive name; it's never my intent to wound. I truly believe, when I write (or say) something, that I am being as nice as I possibly can.

Invariably though, my restraint doesn't translate, because the person with whom I am discussing the matter, accuses me of judging them (or others), only because they don't agree with me. These accusations are often hurtful and, in my mind, uncalled for, especially when they come from people I know well.

This pattern, of others calling me judgmental, began to  bother me, because I wondered -- Am I being arrogant? Closed minded? Judgmental? Is my heart in the wrong place?

I feel, I have, if nothing else, a teachable spirit, so I have to ask myself -- Is God trying to teach me something?

I feel strongly that the love and grace of Jesus is missing in some of our Christian messages and feel passionately about the messages I put out into the world-wide-web (and real life). I don't go off half-cocked with an idea I suddenly thought up. I research, pray about and analyze what I write before I publicize it.

Since I take such great care in thinking through what I write, I am left, at times, scratching my head and questioning my discernment and agonizing that I have somehow gotten it wrong because the message of what I have written somehow comes across in a different spirit than the one in which I wrote it.

The criticism also leads me to question my religion as a whole.

Don't get me wrong; I have never once questioned my faith, but I do question my religion.

I don't have to reach out very far to understand the turn-off many non-Christians feel from Christians; I've felt its sting personally.

I have to ask --Who in their right mind would be won over to, or willingly align themselves with such a dogmatic, exclusive, condemning religion? If I hadn't such a strong grip on my faith; if I didn't know for certain that my personal relationship with God were secure; if I didn't understand fully that Christianity isn't about dogma, rules, and punishment, I myself wouldn't be running out to jump on the Christianity train. I would want no part of it.

Let me make it clear. I am a Christian; flawed and imperfect, yet saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. That is my own, personal truth and I cling to it. I will never live a day in my life where I don't remember that fact and try to live inside the grace extended to me. I am content in my own faith.

What I want no part of is a religion that excludes people. I don't care if those people are dirty, criminal, homosexual or otherwise unappealing to pious sensibilities. I reject that kind of exclusivity.

I also reject the harsh standards by which we judge the people in the seat next to us in our churches,  I can't help but wonder who has time to take away from their own Christian walk to question the appropriateness of our fellow Sojourners.  Is this the best use of our time?

If that makes me judgmental of those persons, then-- So. Be. It. I don't answer to their judgment and I couldn't care less if they think me a heretic, arrogant, or closed minded.

I would agree with them, in part, because I am closed minded and intolerant of that brand of Christianity. My mind is stayed on Christ and his love for ALL people-- to everything else, my mind is closed.

My heart is still open to all, even to those who disagree with me, but my mind has drawn a line in the sand. I stand on the side of unabashed love. The love of Jesus Christ.

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. ~ Romans 3:20-26