Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hate Thy Neighbor

I've been thinking all day about what to write. Earlier on my newsfeed, a friend of mine posted a status that read:

"Wow, is this for real? Concentration camps for the #LGBTQ"

With a link to follow.

Naturally I had to investigate.

What I found saddened me, it made me feel angry, disgusted, and vengeful.

These aren't normally the stories I share on this space, but I feel it should be talked about.

After North Carolina's large vote in favor of defining the institution of marriage as solely between a man and woman, there have, apparently, been a slew of pastors who've used their pulpits, and influence, to be outright hateful toward homosexuals.

The Pastor (and I say that lightly) Charles Worley probably never thought he'd go viral on that new-fangled internet thingy (what's it called? Oh, that's right, YouTube), but viral he went.

There's a two minute clip, part of a larger sermon I'd assume, but here it is...

Now, I know it's dangerous to simply rely on soundbytes, and short clips in our emotions-driven society. This is certainly a part of a larger sermon, but it doesn't matter.

What "Pastor" Worley is saying is wrong.

To even suggest stuff like this is an insult to the true Christian faith, and is a slap in the face of the very Christ that Mr. Worley claims to represent.

There's much in the Old Testament about the law of God, the standard of God, and God's judgement. But the whole point of Jesus was to do that which humans couldn't do ourselves. That is to say, that only God can keep God's standards.

As humans, we all fall pathetically short of this standard.

This clip also illustrates a common flaw in Protestant Evangelicalism, which is simply this; we pick and choose what parts of the OT law we wish to uphold. We demonize other groups, in the interest of presenting ourselves in a holier light.

This is wrong.

The third, and probably most disturbing, thing that this clip shows is the absolute absence of love and grace from someone who has been entrusted with bearing the example of Jesus to his congregation (and the world for that matter).

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors. No exceptions. Doesn't matter if they're homosexual, atheists, or a different denomination.

There's only one judge. God. We would be wise to leave judgement where it belongs, and to focus on the command of the Christ to love the broken world we live in.

I'm deeply saddened today because I know that I will be broad brushed with Pastor Worley's strokes.

Perhaps not by my close friends, but by acquaintances. By people who I happen to meet through mutual friends. People who, when they find out about my faith, will recoil in fear because I've been lumped into a category with a "Pastor" who emulates nothing of the Christ I've come to know.

The Christ who has changed my life.
The Christ who can change the lives of those who do not know him.

Thank you Pastor Worley. I hope that you take some time, and think about your words, and your status. I sincerely hope, and pray, that you will re-examine what it means to be an ambassador of the risen Christ because, I'm quite sure, that he weeps every time he sees his children say things of this nature.

Brothers and sisters, may you always live in love, not hatred or contempt.
May you stand up against bigotry and outright contempt for those whom God has created (like you) in his image.

What this world needs desperately, is for followers of Jesus to continue to love others boldly, and recklessly. Nothing more, nothing less.


RCM said...

Whenever this stuff is brought up I think of the way we deal(or more appropriately not deal) with serial marriage in the modern church. All passages where Homosexuality is mentioned as a sin is in a long list of other sins and we somehow pick the only one that we don't do to judge. Great post!

Josh said...

Exactly. Thank you for the comment!

Becks12 said...

I've always believed it's good to be strong in your faith, but critical to recognize how Jesus lived his. He was not a people basher, not a gay basher. He hated the sin, not the person. Showed love and compassion for those who came to him, and put those who judged in their place. When people spout off their mouths and criticize others for their "sins", it is for personal satisfaction and gain, or control, thinking they know best and can change others, instead of looking at the grace and mercy Christ shows in their own life. Christ showed compassion, we should also. Who are we to judge? When we do not leave room for God's wrath or judgement and instill our own, we are doing not only Christians, but Christ a disservice. We hinder his mission, and his calling, we silence the Holy Spirit and announce our selfish opinions and feelings. We put our trust in ourselves and not God to do right, and in doing so we model poorly what Christ wants us to be. Faithful, merciful, loving neighbors. The greatest commandment? ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Josh said...

Amen sis! Couldn't agree more!