Christians are not the parents of this world. I say that because at times we act as if we are. We want to dole out punishment and appropriate discipline to all those whom we see as disobeying. “Hey. single mom, your current struggles are the natural consequence of your actions! If you’d followed God’s plan your life wouldn’t be so hard!” Or, “hey, gay person, you’ve got to get straight to get to God or you’ll burn in hell, m’kay?” Or, “Hey, society, just going to change a few laws over here to keep your Judeo-Christian values right or God is gonna judge us all, don’t want that happening!”
Missing the point, missing the point, missing the point.
We aren’t society’s parents. There’s a difference between being God’s ministering hands and feet to express the Gospel to this world and being God’s spank paddle. One, we are called to be. The other? We aren’t. See, the thing is, all of humanity is called to be God’s sons and daughters. We’re all siblings. When I tell my son if he throws his toys his toys are going in my closet and he’s getting a time out, his sister is right there to let me know that her brother is stressed and angry and he can’t help it and he needs a hug and if I give him a time out I’m Mean Mommy. When I tell her that if she doesn’t respond to me because she’s watching a video I’m going to turn off the TV, her brother is right there to defend her. They’ve got each other’s backs. And when I dole out the discipline and go into the other room, guess who is sneaking in to hug and kiss and talk their sibling through it? That’s the way of things. I, as my gay Christian friends sister in Christ, see my first and foremost job as being their advocate, not being their jury. I also don’t need to be their voice of conviction because that is why Christ sent us the Holy Spirit. What they do need is me as their sister, the one who will stay up late to whisper to them. The one who will argue for them in the face of judgment. The one who will conspire with them to wreak havoc when necessary. Their partner in humanity.
Sometimes, when I read Christian magazines and articles online, I start to picture the Bride of Christ as a nagging wife, saying “didn’t I tell you last week if you didn’t stop that you’d burn in Hell? How many times must I remind you?” It saddens me deeply. Our example is supposed to be Christ, the one who came to Earth to advocate for our healing. The one who gave us freedom from beneath the law. The one who acted as the supreme advocate, standing between us and our judgment at the expense of his body, his dignity, and his life. Yet in his name we enforce the law at the expense of faith, bullying, belittling, and threatening our fellow humans, our fellow brothers and sisters, until they turn from the Church with a resigned sigh, throw up their hands, and disavow God.
And why shouldn’t they? When I punish my children unfairly, without any sympathy, grace or mercy, because I myself am scared and frustrated, they turn from me. Our words must be selfless. They must be motivated by love. They must be tempered with knowledge of God’s grace and mercy and kindness. They must be modeled after Christ. They must never be motivated by our own fears. Let’s be honest with ourselves- a lot of the condemnation the church heaps out is fear-centered. No gay marriage? We’re afraid of the consequences to society. Discipline the single mother? We’re afraid of the reputation that embracing her would give our church, and afraid she’s going to keep sleeping around, and afraid that she’s going to expect us to help her out and take her responsibilities on ourselves. Rebuke the tattooed punk? Let’s be honest, we don’t understand him. We find his attitude offensive. We’re afraid of what he’ll act like if he sticks around. And that gay sixteen year old boy? If we don’t rebuke him, he might be gay forever. And we’re terrified of what that might mean.
It’s not God, it’s fear. And when we reprimand our fellow man in God’s name, claiming that it is love, all we ultimately do is teach them to fear and reject God. Are we supposed to hold each other accountable in love? Absolutely. Just like how my son will whisper to his sister that Mommy said something and she’d better say “yes mom”. Just like my daughter will tell my son, “If mom sees you doing that she will be SO MAD.” But that is something done out of charity, something done out of love, something done out of sympathy and a common goal. It’s done to improve a life, not to condemn actions. When we intercede with each other we have to do it out of God’s spirit and heart, and with knowledge of the consequences of our actions.
When I see the multitude of people who love God but are ashamed of Christianity, all I can think is that if we truly were doing things God’s way the result of our actions wouldn’t be fruits of bitterness, doubt, and loss of faith.
Somewhere, something has gone horribly wrong.