A Welcome and an Expiration Date
I do not understand how Christianity went from a religion of love to one of conditional judgment. Rather than listen to the Jesus who talked about loving enemies, we somehow gravitate toward the desert religions and their economy of scarcity. Only a few can win. Everyone else must lose. The problem is no one wants to admit they see life that way. They want to project a different image, one that includes a warmer embrace. They know their judgment is a marketing problem and a public relations nightmare, so they feign acceptance. But in so many ways that embrace is disingenuous.
Christians often tell us God accepts us as we are, but we are also clearly informed if we do not change to become what the powers that be want us to become, we will ultimately be rejected. The window open for the required change may vary from one Evangelical camp to another, but in all of them it eventually closes with an ominous thud. We are left on the outside because we did not perform as expected. Love does not win. Judgment wins.
We have recently seen many Evangelical churches telling the LGBTQ community they are welcome just as they are. What is reserved for later is the more ominous message that unless they change their fundamental identity, their welcome has an expiration date. These churches have every right to hold their opinions, but I wish they would stop their bait and switch tactics. Put the expiration date in large letters on the outside of the package. Warning: Unless you stop your sinful behavior, God will not allow you into his heaven.
In my neck of the woods, the senior pastor of one megachurch spoke from the pulpit about his acceptance of a transgender member, and even wrote about it in one of his books. Yet he later informed her she was living a sinful life. I have no idea whether the decision was his or was handed down from the church elders, but the bottom line is that a woman was horribly misled.
I was asked by a social service agency to vet an Evangelical pastor who wanted to provide services to the agency. I decided not to waste anyone’s time and forthrightly asked, “Do you believe all homosexual relationships are sinful?” The pastor said, “We judge no one.” I politely suggested he had not answered the question.
I asked again, “Do you believe all homosexual relationships are sinful?” After half an hour of evasive answers the pastor finally admitted, “Yes, I do.” I thanked him for his honesty. He expected me to argue that his church should be fully inclusive. I said, “You have every right to hold whatever position you want to hold. You are a smart guy and this is an independent church. But we cannot allow you to host meetings with gay teens in the agency office when we know eventually, some day, somewhere, you are going to tell them acting on their homosexuality is a sin.” I have not heard from the pastor since.
To all who want to show your “acceptance” of LGBTQ people, but know good and well your theology is not going to change on the subject, do everyone a favor. Please stop leading these people on. These souls want a church family who will love and accept them as they are. They do not need to hear you tell them about your struggle with being overweight, or your inability to eliminate your lusts or control your anger. They do not need your evasive metaphors. They need the truth. If you cannot accept their sexuality, let them go. Please.