Life is a struggle in and of itself. Yet, we as human beings complicate matters even more by pouring out our own drama and morphing our struggles and pains so that they overwhelm and destroy. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the church being trashed by various political parities. I'm tired of the church giving everyone a reason to trash and mock it. We've forfeited love, grace, and compassion for self-righteous piousness that stinks to high heaven…
The Bible say that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 (NIV)
I will be the first to admit that I am a royal screw up. I've done things that I knew were wrong and I've done things that I didn't realize were wrong. I've wounded people that I love. I've let my tongue speak evil to and about others. I've let seeds of bitterness turn me into a sour lemon and grudges dig their filthy claws deep into my heart. I am imperfect. I sin on a regular basis (thought I sincerely try not to). I've spoken to my husband out of turn, gotten irritable with my children, and stuffed my foot so far deep into my mouth that I'm surprised I didn't shove it out the other end (nasty, I know…but you get the point). And these are just the things that I am willing to share. Imagine the horror if I shared my deepest, darkest moments that try desperately to cloak me in shame?
But having grown up in a rigid church background, I've had to deal with how in the world to shrug of that annoying cloak of shame. When I was little, I witnessed one too many good men and women of God have a sword of condemnation plunged into their hearts--turning them away from church and God all together. It is a shame, for I know good and well that our Savior in Jesus Christ would never treat us in that manner! In fact, he came and died on the cross, taking our sins and shame upon himself to deliver us, by grace, from our dark shame...
My heart aches to see the knew trend of trash talk rippling across our nation and through our church pews. Homosexuality has come front and center, boldly facing Christians and waiting for a fight. And what do Christians give them in return? What else but a fight. What happened to the love of Jesus Christ? What happened to grace and compassion? Instead we spit vile words of contempt and hatred. We ignore our own personal sins and point out others'. We pretend that gossip and jealousy are measured less by God. We convince ourselves that the wickedness shoved in the dark places of our hearts will never rear it's ugly head.
Recently, I have received several forwarded emails trumpeting two of Christian music's stars as "coming out of the closet." People speak of how sad it is and how we need to be praying for their deliverance. Maybe they're right. Then again, maybe we're focusing no the wrong part of the story. I took a closer look at the articles and found some gems that broke my heart. I believe that as a church…we are missing the point and hence, failing God.
In an interview with Christianity Today/ liveblog, Ray Boltz says this about admitting that he is gay:
Boltz also told The Blade that he doesn't want to get into debates about Scripture and has no plans to "go into First Baptist or an Assembly of God church and run in there and say, 'I'm gay and you need to love me anyway.' "
Earlier, Boltz had alluded to the issue on his official website, saying that if people "knew who I really was, I would never be accepted."
And he is oh, so very right. If he walked into my church and said that he was gay (this having happened before he openly declared it), something would plummet inside of me. I am sure that judgment would rise up within me. I wouldn't want to listen to his music anymore and I would shake my head (when I got home, of course, because I'm too good to shake my head in front of him) and pity his disillusionment. I'd feel sorry for him for the fact that he'd succumbed to his sins.
I'm serious folks. I'm not joking here or making up some sort of sarcastic parody of what I believe other Christians would do. I would do that. I did do that when I first learned. But then I turned around and indulged in idle gossip…forgetting that my words break God's heart just as much as any other person's sin. There are no scales in heaven in which my wrong doings will be weighed that will cost me less than Mr. Boltz's sins. And Jesus did not suffer a less punishment on my behalf for my petty gossip than he did on the cross for murder, rape and homosexuality. He hung on the cross for all of it.
And then there is the interview that Christianity Today had with Jennifer Knapp upon announcing her separation from the Christian music scene and her relationship with another woman. When asked if she'd "struggled" with homosexuality while writing her previous albums, her response was as follows:
The struggle I've had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I've been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I've always approached my faith. I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it's difficult for me to say that I've struggled within myself, because I haven't. I've struggled with other people. I've struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself. Later she states: I'm not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn't allow homosexuals within our church. There's a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I've been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.
I can only imagine how it would feel if we targeted gossips and Christian's who told little "white lies" instead of placing homosexuals under the magnifying glass as we play God and measure their sins, marking them destined for hell.
Miss Knapp later says: At a certain point I find myself so handcuffed in my own faith by trying to get it right—to try and look like a Christian, to try to do the things that Christians should do, to be all of these things externally—to fake it until I get myself all handcuffed and tied up in knots as to what I was supposed to be doing there in the first place.
And how right she is. I believe that our nation is covered with well-meaning Christians that walk every day of their lives handcuffed -- unable to love others and bestow grace because our hands are tied behind our backs. We are held captive by legalism and laws that we don't even truly understand. We are imprisoned by self-righteousness, our view of what a "good" christian is, the need to appear perfect in other people's eyes, our desire to "have it together", our never-ending struggle to live up to the picture implanted in our minds as children in Sunday School, and held captive by our own inability to understand God's love nor accept his grace and compassion for ourselves.
If we would only let go (which happens to be the title of Miss Knapp's latest album), then maybe, just maybe we would learn to live at peace with one another, happy enough just to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But the key is: we must first learn to love ourselves. I believe that what Ray Boltz and Jennifer Knapp have that the rest of us lack, is that they have learned the hard way how to love themselves…and how to accept God's grace and compassion.
I am in no way condoning homosexuality, nor am I condemning it. I'm not God. I have to answer for my own sins, both great and small. What I am condoning is love and grace…and condemning Christians walking blindly in handcuffs. I may not be able to throw scripture at people to justify why I believe they are wrong or right, but nor do I feel the need that I must do that in order to be taken seriously. The favorite line in Jennifer Knapp's interview was this: If God expects me, in order to be a Christian, to be able to theologically justify every move that I make, I'm sorry. I'm going to be a miserable failure.
Gay or not, I know for a fact that God loves her and Ray Boltz, and every other homosexual person in the world. If he didn't love them (or us), why on earth would he allow his SON to die for them?
For info on a very cool man's perspective of how to seek healing and restoration as a gay man or woman (he was a homosexual) check out this link.
From what he had to say, this stuck with me the most:
During my own journey out of homosexuality I made a significant discovery—Jesus Christ is not a means to an end. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. I did not go to Christ to get something else, namely heterosexuality. I went to Christ to get HIM!
Listen To Jennifer Knapp's Song "Letting Go" here.