Disclaimer: For those of us who believe in the Bible…
Because of Jesus, “sinner” is not how God sees me. It’s not how I see myself. And it shouldn’t be how I see my brothers and sisters in the church. – Micah J. Murray
Murray’s blog on the topic offers insight into one of the many reasons I can no longer follow the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” rhetoric that is encouraged within our Christian circles.
See, when we talk about who is a sinner, we are often guilty of assigning it *only* to people whose sexual orientation and gender identity don’t conform with our own.
And in his post, Murray points out this hypocrisy:
And despite all my theological disclaimers about how I’m just as much a sinner too, it’s not the same. We don’t use that phrase for everybody else. Only them. Only “the gays”. That’s the only place where we make “sinner” the all-encompassing identity.
And therein lies the kicker – using “sinner” as an excuse to elevate our own self-worth while diminishing the value of a whole group of people.
In all the teachings of our churches, we are reminded that we were created in the image of God. We are encouraged to live a Christ-like life and yet we conveniently forget that Jesus had an unconditional, limitless love for people.
Jesus didn’t just go after the adulterers, tax collectors, the sick, the poor etc. He gravitated towards PEOPLE that the rest of us turned away. He went to show them compassion and love and a shoulder to lean on because we couldn’t/didn’t/refused to. He went to bring out their humanity in the hopes that the rest of us would see it.
But it seems we don’t. Recent talk from Christians, supposed followers of Jesus Christ, on all things relating to the LGBTIQA community tells us that our “Christ-like life” is rooted in condemnation – a characteristic of Christ I do not recognise.
In telling us to “Love the sinner and hate the sin”, we perpetuate the culture of intolerance towards the LGBTIQA community, ignore their pleas for help and refuse to practice the command to “Love thy neighbour”. In doing so, it would appear that we are keeping the status quo – my status as a “Child of God” elevates me to a position that you are not entitled to, which is to be a recognised member of society. Yours will be one I will approach with all the righteousness accorded to me and you will only take what I choose to give.
Even within the Church, we are often guilty of reminding the redeemed of their shortcomings.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus. To look at my gay Christian brother and say “God loves the sinner” is to set myself against Jesus and bring condemnation again to those he’s already redeemed.
Ours is not to question the validity of someone’s redemption or of someone else’s existence for that matter. To do so is to put ourselves above Christ. To remind others of their sin is to forget that we too are, in fact, sinners. It is hard to fulfill the calling of the Great Commission if we continue to maintain an air of hostility and fear.
Perhaps in the end, I’m not a “real” Christian. It’s true that I’ve often struggled with aspects of the faith I was brought up in. My spiritual life is a mess. There are sooooo many things I wish I had done differently; sooooo many paths I wish I had stayed on.
While I struggle in my attempts to live a Christ-like life, the actions of Christians I’m suppose to look up to, offer me no help. If I am called to follow the lead of Christians around me, then I am being asked to condemn, to demean and convert, not love and befriend or understand. People’s interpretation of our religious text is different. I may see this, you see that.
I’m only writing this because it bothers me to see Christians label and condemn, all the while singing praise to Jesus/God/Yahweh/Jehoveh. It bothers me that we often go to great lengths to intimidate people who do not conform to our ideologies. It seems that as Christians, our biggest challenge is to learn to love, unconditionally; to learn to walk without our noses up in the air and our heads up our own arses. The challenge for us as Christians, is to see EVERYONE’s humanity, and not just the select few.
We need to find it in us to be compassionate, to sow seeds of love where there is none. It is our duty to love those that have been rejected, turned away. And as Christians, we seriously need to stop looking down and hating on everyone else.
Because we’re not better. We’re actually the most screwed up ones, screwing everyone else over. And maybe we too, could use a little bit of love. Not the sort of love that derides and condescends, but the sort of love that Corinthians teaches us to strive for.
Recommended reading: All I Have to Offer