Have you ever wondered why some Christian churches make it so hard to be accepted? I have and I am still very confused by it. Yes, there is history and tradition, both in terms of culture and the interpretation of theology, but I still wonder why it is so hard for the culture to change. I also, in a perverse way, understand the need for uniformity and commonality. It gives people confidence in their faith to know that everyone is supposed to be living to the same standard. Despite this, it still seems weird that the church seems to have it so backwards, even if what they believe is true. Even if you believe that everyone should live the way a conservative Christian describes, the whole concept is based on the idea that it cannot be done without the indwelling of the Spirit. And if that is true, then almost by definition sinners need to be in the church as their worst selves in order to tap in to the power that will lead them to change.
Again, thank you Jason for a heartfelt thoughtful piece. Some observations : The early church was a shock to the “way of life” of that period, which changed glacially. Cluster all the distortions we have slowly addressed over centuries (a few: imperial power divinely ordained, suffering because we “sinned,” sexism, racism, sexual and gender identity issues [just starting]) and compress them into a century after Christ. The early church lived in a relatively quiet contradiction of much–if not all–of them and was immensely popular! All based on their undying faith in a dead messianic figure who the church insisted was now alive and was the source of their loving way of being, We now live in a rate of cultural change, even in the church, that may be impossible to absorb–you know all this. In my lifetime, we have gone from radio, to TV, to iPhones, Internet, AI?, Travel around the world in mere days, whatever. We are, with few exceptions, unable and unwilling to take that 1st century zeitgeist and apply it to our time. We fall back on “texts” regarding gender or sexuality that are intrinsically problematic and culturally overwhelmed absent science. Fundamentalism is a cancer on the Gospel.
I find it disturbing that the prideful deceiver has been able to distract so many of us with his shiny objects so we loose site of why we are all here in this sinful self-serving existences. What brought the universe into this state was not abortion or gays or illegal aliens, pornography, extramarital relationships, lying, stealing, cursing or even murder. It was the narcissistic personality disorder standing next to the thrown of God. (try the first commandment, self worship) Are there any of you that can connect these particular dots with the events of our day? As long as this creature can cause us to prioritize sins and remain distracted from the fact that Lucy-Fur’s prideful need for power is why we are all here, he can continue to cause us to judge, discriminate, condemn and isolate those we look down upon and pride-fully say “we are not as bad as they are”. Then, he has succeeded. He owns us.
There is an irony in the current pecking order of sins. Which, by the way, we need to stop. It is the main reason we are so divided. (Could probably blame that on another narcissistic personality disorder) When hearing the religious leaders of the day, one would think that loving someone of the same gender as yourself, takes the number one spot on the Family Feud scoreboard. Isaiah would cause that buzzer to blow with a big red “X”. He pointed out that Sodom, you remember that city, the one that God wiped off the face of the earth, was really because they were INHOSPITABLE. Look it up. You know, they didn’t take in the strangers who entered there city. I am surprised that they didn’t try to build a wall. They probably could have made Israel pay for it…oh wait…Israel didn’t exist yet.
Do you think that maybe if we all stopped the finger pointing and our unchristian sin scorekeeping, that we might come to the realization that we’re all pretty sinful and none of us really has a right to sit in that pew…except for the grace of God. Make room for those strangers…they are in need of that grace too.
These articles always “sound” good until you get into specifics. “Acceptance” is such a misused word in Christianity today. Jesus loves everyone but He was clear that He does not accept everyone. He said whoever wasn’t willing to leave everything for Him was not worthy of Him…in other word not accepts by Him. He also preached “repentance” and turning from sin.
Yes we’re all sinners, and that is precisely why we all need to repent. Repentance means to acknowledge or sin, confess, and turn from it. The issue with accepting someone “in”their sin is that there is not repentance. There is no turning from and acknowledging their sin. That is never a gospel that Jesus preached.
He said if your eye causes you to sin, cut it off. In other words, we must be willing to leave our sins.
Jesus probably wasn’t a real person and most likely never preached any gospel at all.
We could be obviously be wrong about this, though, so while I don’t know about you, I’m willing to wait until Jesus returns, proves he was and is real, and sets everyone straight on what actually constitutes his “good news”.
Many of us are more than willing to leave our “sins”; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We all know of people who, with the best of intentions and the struggles of a lifetime, were still not able to conquer our demons and addictions: the tobacco, the alcohol, the cheetos, the tele-novellas, the full-time sports channels, the constant monitoring of our 401k performance, the coveting our neighbor’s anything, etc. etc. Face it - we are sinners in desperate need of a saviour - just accept it as all filthy dirty rags and throw ourselves on the mercy of a higher power, though certainly it would be better to conquer those demons here (especially for those around us in this life). I, for one, am looking forward to a possible 1000 year re-education camp to fix my horrid self…
Jesus is the one who said “repent”. He’s the one who said most people follow the broad road to destruction, and He’s the one who said that when He returns the world will mourn.
And I would actually argue the opposite, the modern Christian church is more liberal and less judgmental than it had ever been. Most preachers I hear (non advenstists & sda) don’t preach about sin, repentance, obedience etc. most preach God loves us no matter what and we shouldn’t judge.
The Christian church in general in the US is losing enormous amounts of members but it’s also more liberal/progressive and less strict than it has ever been.
I don’t believe people are leaving because the church is to conservative or judgmental…
Hello, I mentioned that the “acceptance” sermon always sounds good but in practice it won’t work once you get to specifics.
For example, I agree with you that we’re all sinners. We all have something we’re struggling with. And I don’t think the church had done a good job of helping members through and out of their addictions/sins. But, acceptance means I’m acknowledging that you don’t have to change. That God Accepts you as you are…
So let’s get specific: you mention some sins that we struggle with, but would you be ok with accepting someone who’s a whites supremacist? Would you be ok with accepting a pastor that’s cheating on his wife/husband? Would you accept someone who’s dealing drugs and have them as a teacher in your Church? Would you accept someone who’s abusing an elderly parent or a child?
I think we can agree none of those behaviors are acceptable. This is why sin can’t be accepted. We can be patient with one another, support one another, elevate one another, forgive one another, but er can’t accept open sin because that would be to acknowledge that it’s ok, and it’s not.
We typically use acceptance to mean allowing lgbt members but if we’re going to accept all, the all means all, and once you start looking at specific negative behavior I hope we can agree that it’s not acceptable
Jesus said, go and sin no more. Acceptance says go and it’s ok to keep sinning. As a matter of fact it’s not really a sin anyway so go because we accept you no matter what. Jesus never taught this
Once again, we are not accepting behaviour. We are accepting people. And, in my limited understanding, the most egregious part of sexual immorality, be it heterosexual or homosexual, is infidelity. In that context, multiple partners, and casual sex is wrong, be it heterosexual or homosexual. Bathhouse sexual behaviour or wife swapping all fall under the same umbrella. I would agree with you. But, how do you intend to police what has usually taken place behind closed doors? I am absolutely positive that it is not a sin for a man to love another man or a woman to love another woman That has nothing to do with intimacy. And if this rigid application of OT law is so precise, how does it effect lesbian behaviour? How does it effect transgenders? The only thing in scripture that addresses what might be the “T” is that men should not wear women’s clothing., but if you look at what they wore when this was written, they both wore robes. There were no pants or skirts. This is actually kind of ridiculous in a way. This falls apart on its face if you look at it logically. That doesn’t even take into account the fact that there are at least 6+ million people alive today that were born with genitals or internal sexual organs opposite of their external gender presentation. Look up the study I quoted about the village in the Dominican Republic where births of girls, miraculously turn into boys at puberty. Obviously, something has physically happened to the people in all of these instances that was totally out of their control, but unless I am missing something here, these individuals have not sinned. But, of course, we all have sinned and are born of sinful flesh. I think it is more egregious that we should judge them. You could have just as easily been born with an attraction to the same sex as anyone of the LGBTQ community. Put yourself in those shoes and then tell me how you would wish to be treated? Maybe you might also want to take some responsibility for the fact that their suicide rates are 4 or 5 times greater because of the shamming from the religious “holier than thou” crowd.
I can’t imagine a God who would keep a person out of His kingdom because of how he was born. That is a bridge too far for me. Much of the Levitical law is no longer valid in our Christian world. And they simply had no knowledge of people being born into this community. We still have a huge amount of people who can’t accept that fact, and we are living in the 21’s century where we now have documentation and actual physical evidence.
After looking at your comment again there was one word that really disturbed me. It was your use of the word ALLOWING. This is very judgmental. Why do you think that you should have the power or the understanding to ALLOW anyone? Isn’t that playing God? Unless I missed something, that is a violation of commandment number one.
That’s where we disagree, love and acceptance are not the same and God loves everyone but doesn’t accept everyone.
Do you accept wife beaters? Do you accept members who are cheating on their spouse? Do you accept someone dealing drugs at church? They are loved but I think we can agree their behavior is not acceptable. This article talks about accepting all people and that’s not possible and the minute we put specific sins to the sermon it falls apart
We’ll never agree on homosexuality being a sin. So I don’t think that’s worth debating over this article. So let’s use another one if your examples or another sin altogether. The word allowing or accepting means we have no issues with that behavior/person. You’re right we’re not policing behavior behind closed doors. But let’s say there’s a member in our church that’s made it public they are attending “bathhouses” or just sleeping around/hook up culture style. What would you do if that person was a sabbath school teacher? How would you suggest the church deal with that teacher?
Hey Yoyito - I never asked my parents if they were having sex or how often. I never ask our middle aged children if they have sex. And it is inappropriate for you to assume what anyone else is doing sexually - let alone to ask them. VERY few people , if any, discuss publicly whether they go to bath houses or sleep around. Do church members have no right to privacy? Respect people’s privacy and leave any interest in judging to God!
Hello, is holding each other accountable and elevating our lives and spirituality judging or is it helping each other? I think done incorrectly it is judging and can be very harmful. But done with love and humility as prescribed in the Bible it makes us better. If I started cheating on my wife I would hope my friends and church would hold me accountable and let me know my behavior was destructive and not acceptable.
They can love me and hold me accountable at the same time…this is where I believe ideas like the ones in the article fall short because acceptance of any and every behavior is not something any of us would condone in our families, marriages, etc. we don’t have to be a moral police to hold each other accountable when we know our brothers or sisters are engaging in behavior that is destructive to them, it’s what family does. With love and with kindness, but accountability non the less
As an example, I had a friend who was leading our worship team and she moves in with her boyfriend. She let others in worship team know she was moving in with her boyfriend. When I found out I confronted her and we had a good conversation and she agreed that it was wrong and she thought long about it and fixed the situation. Am I going to be showing up to her place to see if she moved out? No, but she was actually grateful for our conversation and specifically asked me to keep checking in with her and hold her accountable. She’s not perfect and neither am I, but acceptance of her behavior would not be love.
This is strange…I would have thought if you were of a mind to be held accountable, you would not cheat in the first place. It is a some what “self-righteous” position to say, “If I stray, please correct me. I truly want to be accountable for my actions.”
This is actually being disrespectful to your “friend”. You can disagree with her life choice, but that is exactly what it is - her life choice. Period. We get so hung up on others behaviours and forget that they exist apart from us. Their morals are not ours and ours are not theirs, nor should we measure their behaviour by our morals.
Based on your comments in the past you are not in alignment with the commands of God as fundamentally required by the authority of scripture.
As your friend I must point out that you have failed to live up to Gods commends. Here are a couple of examples of these failings:
a) You have not confronted the woman friend in your example about her leading a worship team and thus ignored Pauls admonishment regarding a woman’s role in church life.
b) You don’t adhere to any of the Levitical laws (not sacrificial). For example you regularly violate the Sabbath rules and worse allow your family members to do so as well with impunity.
c) You were not circumcised on the 8th day as instructed in Gen. 17:9-14.
This is just for starters.
Have you repented from these sins?
Will you submit yourself to God and change your behavior as you said you would to be in alignment with Gods commands?
If you don’t shouldn’t this have to be escalated to proper church leadership and legal authorities for proper disciplinary action and punishment as God commanded?
None of us are above sinning and making bad destructive choices. Come on you’re answer is not addressing the issue. As Christians we are all capable of making bad choices and if we do having people who love us and encourage us to correct our bad decisions us not not judging.
I guess we just disagree about what being disrespectful is. She certainly didn’t and doesn’t think so. And you’re assuming all decisions people make are in line with their morals. This is absolutely not true. We make decisions that violate our morals all the time because we’re sinners. I’ve had friends cheat in their spouses, enter destructive relationships, do drugs, etc. I couldn’t simply say “oh well I guess their morals are just different and they think doing drugs is ok so I can’t judge”. They needed help as we all do and helping each other out of obvious destructive behavior isn’t judging. We should be able to agree on this…