Friday, August 17, 2012

The Messy Christian

For the longest time I have hesitated to attend any type of church services. I’ve always said, “My relationship is with God and I can pray anywhere” - and I still stand by that statement, however lately I feel more of a pull - more of a need to be around more Christians, even if they disagree with my lifestyle. For one, I don’t have to say a word. I prefer Assembly of God churches, so it can be difficult for someone of the LGBT community to be “accepted” or taken seriously as a Christian. I have had so many positive experiences attending these types of churches, which makes me want to go back. What makes anyone think that their life is “cleaner” than my own? We’re all messy - we have our own little issues to deal with, but isn’t that how God made us? Or is it an intentional evil choice to be sinful? That depends I guess. What makes a divorcee with her ex-spouse still living, less sinful than the happily married homosexual sitting next to her? What makes a perceptual liar any less sinful than the man who secretly lusts after his wife’s best friend? How many honest hands would raise if asked, “Who masturbates?” Is that even a sin? What is a sin? Who interprets a sin? Why is Christianity so full of judgmental people when it clearly states in the Bible that the only judge should be God?

I’m proud to be a messy Christian. I have many issues that can be seen as “sinful”. I call myself a ‘work in progress’ - and I’m always seeking answers - always. If I stopped asking questions I wouldn’t learn anything new. So my question is: is it okay to be a hypocritical Christian? And before you answer that in your head - I mean the type of Christian who preaches, “Be quick to forgive and slow to be angry”, and then comes home to yell at his wife because she forgot to pick up his dry cleaning. His knee jerk reaction was to call her “mindless” and go on and on yelling at her like a madman. Later that night, he apologizes and just explains that he had a rough day and his temper just got out of control. Most times, he’s very pleasant to be around and occasionally goes off the handle for something silly. She forgives him. So, does this make him a “bad person” and un-Christian-like? Does he have any right to go to church with the other seemingly perfect Christians? When I walk inside a crowded church, I see a bunch of silent people, even if they are singing and dancing, praising God. The silence comes through what’s already human knowledge: sin.

Many of my friends who are of the LGBT community are either Episcopalian, Unitarian, Buddhist, Wiccan or just ‘spiritual’ and even some who are atheists. I don’t talk much about religion in front of them because my beliefs are pretty strong. I don't want to offend anyone or cause an unnecessary debate in a social setting. I accept all who accept other religions, but I don’t believe in attending a church that accepts all religions. I only pray to one God. So when Unitarians tell me that their house of worship is a place where all people of any religion can congregate, I sort of cringe inside - not being prejudice, but being loyal to my own God. I get it - I do, but it’s just my preference. Think about it though: why have all of these Catholic and Christian raised LGBT people sought out different religions or particular sectors of faith? My first thought is: they want to be accepted and not judged. I don't blame them. It's hard. They want to attend a church who welcomes them with opened arms. They don’t want to “be silent” - and that’s very tempting for any gay Christian. But in my belief, being gay isn’t a sin. Every single person sitting in a pew in a born again or an Assembly of God type of church isn’t without sin. Why would the LGBT community think otherwise? We’re all messy.

I remember having a conversation with a friend who is of the Buddhist faith tell me, “Well, pray to the universe” anytime I had a problem. In my mind, I thought, “Why am I praying to something that my God has already created?” I seem to come across a lot of that - “pray to the universe” type of suggestions and I just wonder why they are praying to something - like praying to the moon or stars. I didn't understand it. While writing my book A Prayer Away From Healing, I remember finding a scripture that answered my question about my friends ‘praying to the universe’. This is from Job 38:1-39

“Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind; 'Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone and the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who defined the boundaries of the sea as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘Thus far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop! ’Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you ever told the daylight to spread to the ends of the earth, to bring and end to the night’s wickedness? For the features of the earth take shape as the light approaches, and the dawn is robed in red. The light disturbs the haunts of the wicked and it stops the arm that is raised in violence. Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you walked about and explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! Where does the light come from, and where does the darkness go? Can you take it to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! Have you visited the treasuries of the snow? Have you seen where the hail is made and stored? I have reserved it for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war. Where is the path to the origin of light? Where is the home of the east wind? Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? Who sends the rain that satisfies the parched ground and makes the tender grass spring up? Does the rain have a father? Where does dew come from? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of water freezes. Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion? Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct it? Who gives intuition and instinct? Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven, turning the dry dust to clumps of mud? Can you stalk prey for a lioness and satisfy the young lions’ appetites as they lie in their dens or crouch in the thicket? Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God as they wander about in hunger?'”

It just reinstated the fact that if you do believe in a God, then why pray to “the universe”? Even though that sounds perhaps judgmental on my part, it’s more of a question. For a few years, I have laid off the “Christian babble” for many reasons. One main reason is that I was afraid of being called a “hypocrite” yet again. It was because of my insecurities that left me speechless and left me sharing less of my faith with others. In the bigger picture - aren’t we all hypocrites in some way or another if we are of the Christian faith? And if you say you don’t sin, I’m calling you out as a liar. We all do. Either we confess and try to do better or we just keep going around the same mountain. But still, as long as we’re progressing as human beings, trying to do our best in every area of our life and yet have the occasional hiccup if you will - then why silence our faith? I think fear motivates us to shut our mouths. We’re afraid to be judged, ridiculed...persecuted. We’re afraid to mess up because we claim to be a Christian, yet at times, our actions speak much differently. We’re afraid that people will analyze our lives more and pick it apart in tiny pieces showing you all of the gray areas. That’s why I silenced myself. And I do believe there is a devil. I believe he wants to instill fear in us so we don’t share our faith or stand up for what we believe in. They say be “Christ-like” - WWJD - What Would Jesus Do - and we know what’s best but we are not perfect. This is exactly why most people will run far away from Christianity. They think they have to be perfect when it’s the total opposite. If I was perfect, I wouldn’t need God at all.

Through scripture, you can see that God knew how imperfect we all are...

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life. Because one person disobeyed God, many people became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many people will be made right in God’s sight. God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful kindness became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~Romans 5:18-21

So basically it’s saying that the sins of the past, even back into Leviticus was washed away so that we can have right standing with God. The Old Testament tells us that eating crustaceans of the sea (shellfish), being a homosexual, a man shaving his beard and sitting on the same couch with a woman who is menstruating were all seen as an abomination. But when Jesus came to the world, He died on the cross to take away those sins. Once He died, the law was abolished. This scripture validates that.

“But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! Rather, I make myself guilty if I rebuild the old system I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one for those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. **For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.”**

That one sentence says it all: {“For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.”}

Then you have this passage:

“You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ-and not because we have obeyed the law. ***For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.***” ~Galatians 2:15-16

“For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.” Huh. Isn’t that interesting? So then, what’s the most important commandment - the most important thing for a Christian person to do?

Then Jesus says this:

The Most Important Commandment--
“One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the discussion. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ Jesus replied, ‘The most important commandment is this: Here, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.’" ~Matthew 22:34-40

From Jesus’ mouth, not mine. Straight from the Bible. How can anyone argue with this? ...And yet they do all. the. time. They bring up the acts of homosexuality written in Romans and in Corinthians, which is also interpreted as promiscuity for ALL people - heterosexual or homosexual. I know this post is quite long but I’ve been coming across many more gays and lesbians who are unsure of their faith just by what other Christians are telling them. They give them cherry picked scriptures hoping that they’ll turn from their "sinful" lifestyle as a homosexual. A homosexual who is seen as a pervert in their eyes. We have loving relationships just as heterosexuals do. We are loved by God and accepted by Him. Why can’t the people of the church accept us, just as we accept those who are sitting in those pews sinning as well? We’re all in this together - why separate the churches and sectors into “this one accepts this and that” and “that one only accepts this”? I know that there are different beliefs and faiths but what I’m trying to understand is the level of intolerance, the lack of acceptance and fellowship with God’s own people. It’s really not very “Christian-like”, but that could be seen as judgmental on my part I guess. It must be hard to be perfect, in fact, it's literally impossible. I will continue to enjoy my messy life.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com and join her on Facebook

13 comments:

the walking man said...

OK you stated your premise, made your arguments for it coherently, and then offered a conclusion.

What is the difference between masturbation and hypocrisy? Homosexuality and Adultery?

None. If you as a Christian feel that any action you commit is sin then for YOU it is sin yet if you do not consider it sin then for you it is not. Sin is anything that one does that separates them from that spirit which set all in motion. *shrug* Everyone removes themselves through one mechanism or another and 99.999999999999999% of the time they rectify that situation.

If you want to return to a congregation then do so, if you don't then don't. If you feel a need to be more open about what you had felt a need to be silent about then do as the spirit within tells you to do.

That is what freedom from the law {of Moses} means. All that is required is that you be content with the knowledge you have of that being.

As an aside this is why I refuse to identify myself with any "religion." A word which you never find in any text of the Jews or Christians until they got around to the 10,000 different 20th century translations. In Hebrew nor Greek is there even a word for religion.

Just be yourself Deb and go where that leads you.

Deb said...

Wow Mark - I totally agree with what you just said. And my "religion" is more of a relationship with God. I agree that "religion" can be such a rigid and structured word where as a relationship with whoever you worship is not. But you reminded me of a scripture that I love!


In this Scripture found in Romans 14:1-4, it says this:

"Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should."

Absolutely! Whatever we feel isn't right goes with what the spirit is telling that particular person. If it feels wrong, it most likely is. But for someone else, it may feel right. (I'm speaking about things in general as opposed to 'evil' - bad intention types of things.

Thanks for your input! :)

Snowbrush said...

"If I was perfect, I wouldn’t need God at all."

On the other hand, Christians believe that god sent the holy ghost to guide and strengthen them, so surely this should give them unity and clarity and elevate their behavior above that of us ordinary sinners.

Deb said...

What is an "ordinary sinner"? No sin is greater than another (I believe) and I also believe that God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, because the fact that we're not perfect. Many Christians backslide, but have the conscience of God - is that what you're referring to? I may have misunderstood your comment.

Snowbrush said...

Ordinary in the sense of being non-saved or, in the parlance of some Christians, non-redeemed. I was contrasting that state with the state of being strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Deb said...

I see!! Thank you - sometimes it takes me a while! lol I appreciate your input! :)

Snowbrush said...

Why Deb, you're most welcome--thank you. I should say a few words about where I'm coming from. I grew up fundamentalist Christian, took my religion very seriously, started having significant doubts at age eleven, and spent many years trying to hold onto a faith that I no longer could accept intellectually (I even studied Bible and theology for a year in college). At age 62, I'm an atheist and hold religion in low esteem. However, I have the good fortune to have numerous religious people who read my blog and have stayed with me through my attacks on their faith, and for this I am grateful.

Xmichra said...

I haven't been around for a long while, so forgive my catch up :)

I can't talk to much of what you have said here (mainly because I either agree or have no opinion) but you ask the question:

'why do people pray to the universe when god created it?'

I'm guessing that you mean people who believe in god as the creater of all things (because that makes some sense) but for us others who don't truly know where the compass lays (or know it's more a soul thing than a god thing) - but feel that the energy we put out, and harness is real: praying to the universe is a way of sending out out or projecting the things that your heart wishes. Which is all prayer really is - no matter the titled recipient.

at least, that is as good an explaination as I can come up with why I do it.

Deb said...

totally understand 'why' people pray to the Universe and yeah, it was basically a rhetorical question based upon my beliefs alone. I just think - well there's the universe, so wouldn't some entity of some type had to have made it? I have a TON of questions - which is good because it doesn't leave me too limited in the noggin. (I hope!)

Snowbrush said...

Blow me down, a question from Deb's blog.

"I just think - well there's the universe, so wouldn't some entity of some type had to have made it?"

The problem is that you get into an infinite regress unless you make an arbitrary exception to your own argument.

Deb said...

Although my beliefs are very strong, I never stop asking questions, but that question basically is wondering, how can you not believe in a God if there is this huge, incredible and vast universe out there? I still have days where I wonder about certain things -- like why so many people of the same faith (mostly Christianity) believe in different things within it. Like for instance -- someone asked me the other day why born again Christians believe that our loved ones who pass do not go to heaven right away, it's until the new world comes into play after Armageddon, while others believe that we go straight up into the pearly gates. Sometimes, there are TOO many beliefs out there that almost, and I say ~almost~ want to resort to atheism and analyze the crap out of it. So I can understand your continued writing about religion even as an atheist.

Snowbrush said...

"how can you not believe in a God if there is this huge, incredible and vast universe out there?"

It's the infinite regress thing. If you say that the universe is so "huge, incredible and vast" that it must have had a creator, then, by the same logic, the creator itself would have required a creator.

"So I can understand your continued writing about religion even as an atheist."

People take an interest in many things that they themselves are not.

Messy Christian said...

I just wanted to say I absolutely love this article. You have eloquently established a lot of points I try to make! Especially the issue that we are ALL sinners and all sin is equal. We are called to love God and each other regardless if anything else!
God Bless you my Christ-sister!