When the US legalized gay marriage, social media was abuzz with opinions on the topic. I intended to defer to greater minds, and to those it affects directly, but the following Facebook post by an acquaintance pulled me into the fray:
There seems to be some confusion brought into the Church about whether Gay people will go to heaven. Apparently, God Himself has something to weigh in on this subject (for those with ears to hear what the Spirit says to the Church).
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
I’ve overlooked the chastisements and judgments of her varied posts over the months since we met, as well as during a social event she invited me to, but this time stirred a response. I commented on her post, mentioning verses from 1 Cor. 13 about love, and God’s call for us to love, not condemn. Immediately, she sent me texts on my phone and private messages on Facebook, saying I was a voice for Satan, and an “accuser of the brethren”. I was still recoiling from those words, when she berated me at length on her post, including use of scriptures meant to silence a rebuttal.
Plenty of scriptures came to my own mind in support of love, but I knew they weren’t welcome. I typed a comment, “I have no words. I thought I was allowed a point of view. Why is promoting God’s love a reason to attack me?”, but it didn’t go through. I had already been blocked. Unfriended. Accused but denied a response. Rejected and ejected. Over and done in mere minutes.
The unjust and bizarre attack was meant to intimidate, silence and to shame me, just as the post was meant to do to gays. To be honest, I was shaken, especially by the amount of hate that was unleashed toward me. It didn’t escape notice that most of it was spewed offline where nobody could witness it. I had experienced a taste of the hatred that so many people endure from a few “Christians”.
Why does one woman’s behavior matter enough to address it in a blog post? Because this woman and her husband started and pastor a church, and additionally run an area-wide ministry to “lead leaders of the church”. How many others are being bullied, intimidated, accused and condemned?
So, in defense of the bullied, I challenge the bully …
What was the purpose of a post condemning gays to hell? Who was the intended audience for your “lesson”? It was a public setting, so I presume it was meant for any-and-all to read and take heed. I’ve wracked my brain for how it could be helpful to anyone, and have come up blank.
If people who are gay or lesbian read it, you created an illusion of a massive wall between them and God. Instead of hearing good news, such as John 3:17, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”, they are met with an impenetrable wall with a closed door, and this sign over it: “Condemnation Church.” Why would anyone want to enter through that door?
Why do people who have received God’s forgiveness and grace themselves, play bouncer and dictate who is allowed to know God and who is not? Why not do as we are asked, which is love others as he loves us, and share indiscriminately the truths that have given us life?
God is not exclusionary, and the (door)way to him is not via people. People may present themselves as the hoop to jump through, but they are not Christ. Imperfect beings that we are, we often ignore what we want, conclude some issues in the Bible are obsolete or indicative of the culture of the time (such as owning slaves, or the practice of polygamy and having concubines), while insisting on the infallibility of the Bible when using scriptures that reinforce our current beliefs.
Why don’t we admit that we aren’t all-knowing? Why don’t we suspend judgment during times of change and controversy? It’s foolish not to, because our dogma and arrogance is very evident to others – we are but resounding gongs. We think we have the monopoly on all truth, and everybody else is wrong. We’re certain everyone notes our rightness, our superiority, but all others hear is a piercing, clanging cymbal.
While we’re playing God, we are only helping the enemy’s cause, not God’s. We are the reason people are repelled from God.
We abuse God’s Word to puff up our pride, and flaunt our authoritative superiority over innocent people. We don’t even bother to ask God what his view is of others. We accuse people who don’t agree with us of not “having ears to hear” his Spirit, while it is we who won’t listen. We won’t humble ourselves and ask for God’s guidance, because if we do, we’re likely to be knocked off our pedestals — for he humbles those who exalt themselves. If we listen to him, he might tell us the very person we are condemning pleases him; he loves and approves of them; he or she loves him back and is malleable clay in his, the potter’s, caring hands.
He might unleash his wrath on us, not our victims, if we had “ears to hear”. So we don’t ask him anything, and we don’t listen. We keep busy, condemning. We don’t even need God’s presence or direction; we already know which scriptures to use to ambush anyone who disagrees with us.
Still, somehow, the Bible transcends its misuse by humanity to represent God’s perfect nature. In the midst of those texts that mystify and divide, there are wonders to fill a lifetime. Instead of picking and choosing the scriptures to reinforce dogma, why not share the extensive wonders of God’s truths? Like this wonder:
All have free access to a loving God through a simple acceptance of Christ. Jesus wasn’t speaking of a select, exclusive group of people when he said,
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8