Our Condemning Words Affect More People Than We Think
So often, we get caught up in the in the passion of our own opinions of right or wrong, biblical or not, and we spout off without thinking of the person on the pew beside us, and their perspective. There are many instances where this is likely to be true, but today let’s focus on the conversation around human sexuality.
Several years ago I attended a Big Tent Christianity Conference where folks from all over the country gathered to hear speakers and engage in conversation around all sorts of issues affecting Christianity. One of those issues was related to Human Sexuality. I do not remember the exact statistics quoted, but a startling number of people in our society struggle with gender identity. After a panel discussion on the subject, we broke into small groups and I encountered the first of several persons since who have shared their struggle with gender identity. I suspect this person felt more comfortable confiding in our group because of the unlikelihood that we would ever see one another again and it was a safe place, but it was a time of discovery for me as I heard the hurt and pain in this pastor’s life. He was serving a local church, had a fruitful ministry and a wonderful family, but was not free to share his inward journey with his church because he knew it would not be well received and he would be judged.
I have encountered a number of people who have struggled with, and/or freely accepted their identity as something other than “straight” and I have heard their stories. There’s a lot of pain in families where sometimes it gets so desperate that a loved one attempts or commits suicide. There are clergy and laity in our local churches who serve because they love the Lord, but who struggle because they hear it proclaimed from the pulpit or from their “friends” in their church that their lives are an “abomination”, “incompatible with Christian teaching” and sometimes worse. There are teenagers in our midst who are struggling with gender identity and in many instances the last place they can turn to is their local church. There are parents and grandparents on the pews beside us each week when we gather for worship that are evaluating what they have always believed to be true about the morality of gender identity because the struggle has become more real as their children or grandchildren are the ones affected. Often our hard fast convictions on these issues become a little blurry when people that we know and love are the ones who are affected.
Whatever your convictions, let us remember that when we make blanket statements and judgments about groups of people that we may or may not know personally, it is not only those persons that we are judging that are hurt, it is also their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters and other loved ones who are hurt. Let us all seek God’s guidance before we judge one another and before we speak.
If you would like to print, email, or share this edition of Claire…ification, you are encouraged to use this pdf: Claire – Our Condemning Words – 03.02.2016