Thursday, September 04, 2014

What will happen if I love?

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - G.K. Chesterton

There must be a reason Jesus told us that loving our neighbor is the greatest commandment next to loving God. He not only commanded us to love but he went out and did it himself without regard for his own reputation, safety, popularity. . . and ultimately his life. The rabbi who defended adulteresses and prostitutes. The holy man who touched lepers and other unclean types. The king who was abandoned to torture, mockery and a humiliating public death.

We speak of his suffering in reverent tones because that's how he atoned for our sins. That's the theological side of the story. But the human side of the story is that his sufferings came about as a direct result of loving all those despised, unwanted people. The hatred, the persecution and the outrage that led to his crucifixion came about because he healed a withered man's hand on the Sabbath and stood up for a prostitute who dumped a fortune in perfume on his feet and other such scandals. So when Jesus commands us to love as he loved--and also commands us to suffer as he suffered--he is speaking of two sides of the same coin. You cannot love the way he loved and not suffer the kinds of consequences he did.

Many Christians will fight you tooth and nail if you dare to bring up loving gay and lesbian people. The way they talk, you'd almost think there was a verse in the New Testament where Jesus answered and said to his disciples, "Know that you should love one another, as long as the conditions are right. Amen." That must be it, because all I ever hear is: I know we should love people, but I oppose the gay agenda. I know we should love people, but I'm not going to approve of their sin. I know we should love people, but they're indoctrinating my child at school. I know we should love people, but I'm not going to be manipulated by a bunch of sob stories.

What I'm actually hearing is this: Love sounds like a great idea, but I'm afraid if I love I something bad will happen. Yes, something bad will happen, but not what you think. Loving gay people probably won't lead you to approve of sexual sin, but it will most likely get you accused by fellow Christians of approving of it. It won't mean you'll support schools indoctrinating your children about homosexuality, but you will have to face the more real worry that the church is indoctrinating them to despise gay people. And you will definitely listen to people's sob stories, but instead of feeling manipulated you will never stop aching over the needless pain and injustice so many gays and lesbians suffer on a daily basis.

Simply put, loving gays and lesbians will mean many of your friends will forsake you, you will never be a part of the "in" crowd at church, your reputation will be tarnished, and you will carry the sorrows of others around in your heart until you feel like you're going to break. Downside: you will suffer. Upside: you will know the blessing of following in the path of a certain Someone who walked in those sufferings before you.