Monday, April 10, 2006

Zealots

Two separate events continue to rattle around in my head.

Yesterday a woman fairly new to faith shared her story in a small group discussion. She remarked that there is a good deal of anti-Christian sentiment in her workplace. Mention that you are a Christian, or take offense at your coworkers taking the Lord’s name in vain and you are somewhat cast out, or left feeling awkward at the least.

Today, in the Los Angeles Times, there was an interesting article on Christians suing the Georgia Institute of Technology for the right to be non-tolerant. Specifically, they want to be able to exclude gays from their club even though the GIT has a written policy of not allowing speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation. On the one hand a club should be able to in- or exclude anyone they want, that’s kind of what clubs are all about. On the other hand they are trying to change something that the GIT has gone on record as supporting, as have virtually all businesses and our government to great degree.

Sounds to me that the extremists on both sides are getting it wrong again.

As a Christian, according to my reading of the Bible, it is very clear that God didn’t want anyone to be homosexual prior to the first coming of Christ. That said, my sense is that God probably doesn’t want us to be gay now either. God doesn’t change His mind often. More importantly God doesn’t want us to judge each other. Most importantly, God doesn’t want us to create an environment of hate in any case. And I think the latter two statements trump the former two as regards the behavior of God's people towards each other. We are all God's people.

Christian zealots are full of a sense of God that may or may not fit within today’s society. That is their choice. In fairness to them, they are reacting to a society that is far from their perception of what God desires and they want to save everyone for eternity, to keep God’s wrath from possibly coming down on earth again and to have a sense in this world of righteousness. Our media is full of horrid abominations of behavior, put forth as fun and acceptable. It is pervasive, unavoidable, and promoting of sin. It is against God.

And I think they are correct if those are their observations, too.

It is not, however, their right in society or in God’s eye either, to be in-your-face radical hate mongers. If they really want to change homosexuals they should invite them to join their club and then preach to them the Word as they understand it. Any gay person that takes part deserves whatever they get. Who would go? Why?

It is these Christian zealots, or fundamentalists, that get the press because of their contrary actions and it is that press that forms in the mind of non-faithfuls the sense that all Christians are of the same cloth. That is why I encouraged the woman yesterday to continue to make a show of faith in the workplace from the heart, faith as she felt Jesus’ ministry was for all of us, and to do it gently, humbly and proudly.

Only by showing non-faithfuls that Christians can be very genuine, compassionate in the true sense of the word, and not full of hate and derision can we alter the public perception that has been built in America, and the world, over the past twenty years. Thank you Moral Majority! I didn’t buy your hypocritical rhetoric then when I was outside of faith and I don’t buy it now that I have accepted Christ as my Savior in eternity and my guide in this life.

When major ministries such as Focus on the Family and the Campus Crusade for Christ support hate they work contrary to their many honorable goals. Spreading the Word that is Jesus Christ is horribly hindered when combined with the spittle of hate. The Old Testament law may well record God’s desire for His people, but it was altered, forever, by the coming of Christ. As the apostle Paul write in Romans 10: 1-4:

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.


Get that? “Righteousness for everyone that believes.” I take that to mean regardless of their sinful nature. Am I promoting sin among Christians? Absolutely not. I am saying come to Christ first, then deal with your sin in the way that you come to understand Christ. There are many differing theologies here, but one truth – we are all sinners.

Now, for those of you that may be of the mind that you are called to change the behavior of others I’d say first look to your own actions but second, please recognize that to change a person from their sin, whatever it is, requires that they first become aware of God, that they invite God into their lives, thank Him for this existence and come to truly love Him. The only way to do this with the people we come in contact with is to show them the love of God ourselves, and love them for whom they are.

Only then can you (and it is really them if they come truly to faith) help them leave their life of sin. I write this to those who think this way about homosexuality in particular. I for one do not think homosexuality a choice in all cases, probably not even in most cases. But for those that do consider homosexuality a sin outside of genetics, a sin that can be walked away from, then the only perceivable course would be first to bring the person to faith, then to let the Holy Spirit do it’s work as it does. And the only way to bring a person to faith is to show them the love of God.

Two things Jesus never mentioned in the Bible – homosexuality and abortion.

But the question put forth is this – how can we promote tolerance both ways – from non-faithful towards Christians, and from fundamentalist Christians towards those whose sin they perceive as greater than theirs?