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Posts Tagged ‘LGBT’

by Jordan Hathcock

“When our institutions lack movement to propel them forward, the Spirit, I believe, simply moves around them, like a current flowing around a rock in a stream…without that soul work that teaches us to open our deepest selves to God and ground our souls in love, no movement will succeed and no institution will stand.”-Brian McLaren

It looks like we have come to the undeniable crosswords between the institutional church and the movements that have shifted forward. Ever since Jesus started a movement within the Jewish institution in Jerusalem 2,000 plus years ago, this “odd couples” relationship seemed doomed from the start. Both sides of the spectrum will have their reasons why one cannot work attached to the other. Do we have to let go of one to allow the other to flourish?

Without letting my bias opinion get in the way here, I would like to propose that both the institutional church and the movements that come out of it, can work together to bring about the shalom Christ attended all along. Unfortunately, when I hear some type of sympathy for the *Western* (just to get a little more specific) institutional church, I cringe! The numerous stories and historical proof of the pain and horrible damage the institutional church in the past two thousand plus years has done, it’s hard not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Here are just some reminders of what I am referring to:

– Religious wars

– Slavery

– Colonization

– Witch Trials/Burnings

– Racism

– Inquisitions

– Antisemitism

– LGBTQ+ inequality

– Nationalism

– Consumerism

– Environmental Destruction

This is just some of the systemic issues the institutional church has produced. How this has negatively affected groups, communities and individuals is catastrophic when comparing it to the Spirit of love and wholeness that the movement Jesus produced and represented. It’s more like we are participating in damage control instead of producing new ways to bring about healing and liberation.

What are we to do with this? Can we really see a healthy “marriage” between the institution and the movement? I believe we can. Here are some amazing examples of when the institution and movement worked together to bring about the kin-dom—God’s liberated, the liberation of God at work among people, the good news for those who suffer at the hands of kings–of love:

– Abolishment of Slavery– Although many Enlightenment philosophers opposed slavery, it was Christian activists, attracted by strong religious elements, who initiated and organized an abolitionist movement. [1]

– Civil Right Movement– Spearheaded by a Baptist minister, Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed that “any religion which professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the social and economic conditions that scar the soul, is a spirituality moribund religion.” [2]

– Hospitals and Hospice Movements- The second great sweep of medical history begins at the end of the fourth century, with the founding of the first Christian hospital at Caesarea in Cappadocia, and concludes at the end of the fourteenth century, with medicine well ensconced in the universities and in the public life of the emerging nations of Europe The first hospice was set up by Christian nuns in 1900 Ireland. [3]

These are just a few of the examples when people within the institutional church decide to take a stand and move toward compassion in action to ignite a shift towards peace and love. It has and can work. We are seeing several Christian Denominations (brick and mortar institutions) coming together to welcome and affirm the LGBTQ+ community into the church. We are seeing Christian clergy standing by the Black Lives Matter movement. Look, I know this relationship has a long way to go. But we cannot deny that by working together, we are seeing this partnership make a difference for the better.

In conclusion, let me just point out two verses from the Christian scriptures that Jesus, at first, seems to totally contradict himself:

“Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Vs.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Not to get to long winded here but let me just point out that both statements from Jesus are true. Yes, it doesn’t matter if you worship (to adore) here or there (building or beach) because the church is not a building or a beach: it’s us! We are living stones building up the New Jerusalem that is coming down to our reality in the here and now.

We have resources that we all need to make this kingdom reality happen. This comes in all types of “institutional/movements” shapes and sizes. It comes in building funds so we can produce possible food shelters for the homeless. It comes sometimes just from those individuals own time and effort when standing with activists for social justice causes.

In the end, we are all human looking to bring about what we believe the True Human started over two millennials’ ago. We will always have the more conservative or liberal approach to the Christ-vision. Let’s trust that we will ALL listen to the call of honesty and authenticity in discovering the fruit of our vision in action…

“The movement we need is not like a wave whose incoming is inevitable and we just need to catch it. It’s more like a ship that can be built from available materials: if we catch the desire for adventure, get organized, and collect and fashion the materials, we can soon set sail.” [4]

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by Jim Gordon

Continuing on the subject of church and abuse, we know many people have been abused and treated wrong within the system. Some more severe that others, but none of it is good.

I think one of the groups that seem to be affected most by this are those who are LGBTQ. I have seen this group of people treated rudely and like second class citizens in the church where they should find love and acceptance more than anywhere else. God said to love our neighbors, he did not say to love only those we agree with.

Even in the churches that are actually accepting, LGBTQ people are often not allowed to participate fully within the organization or hold certain positions.

GodsDoorsAreOpentoAll

Christian people will deny rights and services to LGBTQ people based on their christian beliefs and that even includes fellow christians who are LGBTQ. Even government office holders can refuse certain services and basically get away with it because they say it goes against their christian morals. As as christian I say these things should not be.

Labels are placed on many people, gay/straight, black/white, male/female, christian/atheist, American/foreign. Yet behind those labels are human beings who were created in the image of God. They are loved and accepted by God and we are told as followers of Christ we are to be known for our love for one another also.

I feel for those who are LGBTQ. It hurts to see people who were created and loved by God be rejected and abused by his followers. I think it is time to look past the labels, look past your personal feelings and accept people just the way they are….created and loved by God.

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by Jim Gordon

In a day when many feel it is the job of the Christian to point out the sins and mistakes of others, I personally do not see Jesus being that way.

Jesus associated with all kinds of people and he showed love toward them. He was genuinely interested in them and accepted them. That does not mean he always agreed with them, but he accepted them as they were. He treated them with love and respect.

Acceptance does not necessarily mean we agree or condone the actions of another, it means we are kind, respectful and show the love of God to them. We obviously are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to treat one another with kindness.

Many say we have to point out the sins of others and warn them of impending doom or we are not fulfilling our obligation as a Christian. Yet I feel that we are told the Spirit will convict people of changes that should be made. The Spirit will draw people to the Father. We are not called to do the work of the Spirit, we are called to show the love of the Father to all people.

AcceptOneAnother

My opinion is that showing love and acceptance to people is more in line with the way Jesus treated others. He did not condemn, he did not hate, he did not associate only for ulterior motives of getting people to join him. In fact, the only people Jesus seemed to have issues with were the religious leaders who thought they were so much holier than others. They were mad at Jesus for associating with people they determined were the sinners and lower class of the day.

For me, rather than point out sins, rather than show condemnation and many times down right hatred towards people, I would rather do what Jesus tells us to do. Love God will all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor (all people) as yourself.

We love through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Love and genuine friendship will draw people into conversations and respect for one another, thus providing an atmosphere where we can all learn from one another and respect one another.

Unfortunately, one of the major issues many christians seem to have is in regard to LGBTQ issues. I am not sure why, but people who consider this to be a sin jump on this issue more than anything.

To me, I like to follow this way of thinking. Whether you are LGBTQ affirming or not, there is no reason to treat people with hate and contempt. Whatever you think about LGBTQ, right or wrong, affirming or non-affirming, be respectful, kind and show the love of God to all people.

We are all made in the image of God. We all have our interpretations and opinions. We each have to follow what we feel is right for us, but we do not have to force our views on others. We all deserve respect and the same equal rights as anyone else.

Accept each other for who we are and follow your convictions for yourself. There is no reason to be hateful toward anyone. We are all loved by God just the way we are now. If there is anything that needs to be corrected or changed in us, the Spirit will gently persuade us in the way we should go. It is not up to people to do the work of the Spirit.

Love and accept others. This means LGBTQ, atheist, people from different religions, races and nationalities. We do not all have to agree. Show each other love. Love makes more of an impact on people than does hatred, condemnation and forcing personal views on them.

Remember we are not told to go force our views and beliefs on others. We are told to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

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by Jim Gordon

Living in these days of uncertainty, for me it is good to have a faith and trust in God. I know not everyone agrees with me on that and I certainly understand. This is just my opinion, but for myself and my wife we would not want to be without God in our world today.

We hear so many scary events going on in our world, threats of nuclear war, natural disasters and terrorism.

Here in the US it seems that sometimes we over-react to certain groups of people and do things that not always seem so Christ-like. We do things and say things that I just do not think we would see Jesus doing or saying.

Peace for facebook

We are told in the bible to put our trust in God, cast our cares on him and do not worry about events going on in the world.

We are also told to love God and love one another, yet we see so much hate and unacceptance even coming from fellow Christians.

Here in the United States we have a wide variety of beliefs, ideas and interpretations all falling under various labels. Labels such as christian, atheist, religious, LGBT, straight, asexual, male, female, black, white, illegal alien, nationalist, republican, democrat and such. Yet we need to remember behind each of the labels is a person who we are to love, accept and treat with the love of God.

We obviously will not agree with one another or see eye to eye with all the different views in the world, but we should be able to look past those differences and love the person who was created in the image of God.

In the organized church I have found we have been taught many things that may not necessarily be exactly as we have been told. Most of us, me included, have been taught a lot of things we take as truth without checking out for ourselves.

Most of us do not know Greek or Hebrew. Most of us do not have access to anything other than the current versions of the bible. I think I am safe in saying that many of us do not do a lot of in-depth studying for ourselves. We seem to take the teachings of a particular pastor or evangelist as gospel truth.

I am finding that this is not a good thing to do. We are told in the scriptures that we have the mind of Christ. We are also told the Holy Spirit lives within us and we have no need for anyone to teach us. To me that says we should stop focusing on listening to only a few people tell us their versions and interpretations and listen for the voice of the Spirit to guide us into his truth.

We find ourselves listening to one person give their explanation of the bible and we do not even check into it for ourselves and seek the guidance of the Spirit to see what is the correct way of interpretation.

We have been taught for so long in the institutional church that God is up in heaven and he shows up now and then at a special church service. We are in the frame of mind that we can only hope to find the will of God while we are in this current world.

The truth is, the bible makes it clear the Spirit of God lives within us. God is not a person that resides in one place. God is spirit. God is not male or female, white or black. He is not an American or a republican. God is spirit and God lives within us. He is closer that we can imagine and it is time we begin to realize this truth and listen for the still, small voice of the Spirit from within.

For me, I feel it is time to put our trust and faith in God and not worry about all the things going on in our world today. Worry will only affect our health and make us miserable. We cannot do anything about most of these things anyway. God promised to be with us always and that he would never leave us. Whether in the physical world or the spiritual world, having the God of the universe tell us he is with us and loves us is the best thing I can imagine.

TrustinGod

The goal of myself and my wife is to become more and more accepting of all people. We all have different personalities, different ways of life and different beliefs but there is no reason why we cannot be respectful and kind to one another. Rather than attack LGBT people, people of different nationalities and color, people of different faith or no faith, look past the differences and see a human being who can be a good friend in your life.

This is one thing for me that has become more and more evident after leaving the institutional church. The organization that should be known for its love, so much of the time is known more for what it is against and for showing judgment and condemnation against people who see things differently. I think it is time for this to come to an end.

We do not have to agree with one another, we do not have to condone what we do not agree with and we do not have to participate in things we feel for us is not right. Yet we are called to love one another even in the differences, and we can be kind and accepting to all people without pushing our personal views on them.

So, in this day of uncertainty focus on the love of God. Put your trust in him and walk each day in the power of the Spirit, letting the love of God touch each person you meet throughout the day.

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Over the past few months we have heard stories about government workers not granting marriage licenses in certain circumstances. We have read of bakers and florists refusing to fulfill the request of people because it violated their personal religious convictions.

Most of the time the stories I have heard are in regard to LGBT people, although I am sure it happens to other people also.

twocents

I have thought about this a lot and figured I would give my two cents worth on the subject. Obviously this is only my opinion and I know there are many other views on this matter.

I feel that no matter what label is placed on us as human beings, each individual is a person deserving of respect and equal treatment. No group of people are more or less important than another.

In regard to government officials, they take an oath to serve the public and to do so according to law. When a person such as Kim Davis refuses to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples based on her religious beliefs, I feel she is breaking the law and should be punished accordingly. If she believes so strongly on this issue, she should have resigned from her position. When you take an oath to serve the public it is no longer about your personal convictions. It is about upholding what the law says is available to all people.

Cake

People in private businesses such as bakers and florists are a little different. I believe they are in business to make money and serve the public and they should serve everyone equally. Although unlike government it is a private business and it is the decision of the owners as to the convictions they follow and the treatment they give to their customers. In that regard, if they choose to treat someone badly and not serve them they should not complain when they receive bad ratings, boycotts, the loss of business and possible lawsuits.

I feel no matter what label is placed upon us, we are all human beings. We are all deserving of equal treatment, equal rights, respect and acceptance. That does not mean we all have to agree with one another, but we can treat people fairly even with our differences.

When we, and especially those of us who profess to follow Christ, treat people with condemnation, unfairness, disrespect, judgment and sometimes down right hatred we are showing a spirit of anti-Christ and not of love.

Jesus came to show us the love of God. He provided grace for all of us out of love. As his followers we are also to be known for our love. To me, treating others unfairly just because they do not believe the same things we believe, or because they see things differently or do not act the way we think they should is not living by the love of God or showing that love to others.

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As a follower of Christ, I feel a great sense of treating all people fairly and with respect. We are told that as his followers we will be known by our love, not only for one another but for all people.

Unfortunately, I do not see a lot of this sentiment in our christian world today. So many of us would rather condemn, argue and stand our ground for our particular doctrine, interpretation or denomination.

When reading about the life of Jesus while on earth, I see a person who loved his Father and loved people. He went about treating all people with love and respect. He told people to go and sin no more, but he never condemned or made anyone feel like a person of lower degree. He never said because you have done this I want nothing to do with you. He loved them no matter what.

Although I like to write, my chosen profession is firefighting. As I think about this line of work I see it as more like true Christianity should be.

Firefighterpledge

As a firefighter we treat all people the same. It makes no difference whether we are treating male or female, rich or poor, white or black, religious or atheist, gay or straight. We do not differentiate between jew, muslim, hindu or christian. It makes no difference if you are American, European, Middle Eastern or Asian. All people are treated the same no matter who they are, what they believe or how they live.

To me this is the way we christian people should live each day. Treating others with equality, respect, kindness and by the love of God. We will not always agree on things but living this way will have more of an impact on others and will show the love of God in action.

I always wonder how the church world can be so mean, how it can separate itself so much from those who see things differently. How can we, who profess to follow a loving God treat people with such disrespect? Why is it that most of the time, christian people are known more for what they are against rather than for the love they are to show to all people.

I feel it is time that we christian people take on a firefighter mentality in the way we treat others, showing love and respect to all people. Rather than fight and argue it is time we help lift up, encourage and be respectful to everyone we meet along this journey through life.

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After many years of growing up in the traditional institutional church many things have changed over the past few years.

Of course, while in the religious system I was ‘set apart’ from the supposedly wrong kind of people. We had our friends within our particular brand of religion and tried to stay away from people who saw things differently.

We were told it was best to associate with like-minded people and fellow believers who agreed with our doctrines and interpretations, but beware of people who have different beliefs or who came from difference faiths or, worse yet, no faith at all.

After over fifty years in organized religion my wife and I came to a point where we felt it best to leave the system and follow a life with God outside of organized religion.

I would not tell anyone to do this or try to draw anyone out of church if that is where they are happy and satisfied. I personally believe the system is flawed and for those who choose to do so, it is better outside the walls than in. But that is a decision I would leave to each person to make under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I can say for us, after leaving we have been happy with the life we have found. We have freedom to follow the Spirit as he guides us. We rely on him rather than putting our faith and trust in a pastor or some spiritual leader. We have found more meaningful fellowship as God brings people into our lives to actually talk rather than sitting quietly in a service looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us.

After going through the process of leaving and starting to write on Done with Religion, I have had the opportunity to meet many new people from various walks of life, various faiths and religious beliefs. I have met many nice people that are LGBT and atheists as well and I am so glad to have done so.

Equals2

It seems to me being open to being friends with all people is so much better and interesting than feeling we are some kind of holy people who should stay away from others. It does not take long to realize that the labels that are placed on others do not completely described the person behind it.

Obviously, we are not going to agree on many subjects yet we can look past those differences and find many things we do share in common. We all want to have a meaningful, purposeful life. We all want love and friendship. We all want to get our bills paid, enjoy life and be happy. We all have causes and interests we want to promote and be successful at doing.

So rather than thinking you have to stand your ground on certain topics and separate yourself from others, look past those things and see the fellow human being in each person you meet. It seems much better to enjoy the friendships of all kinds of people in this life rather than let the differences separate us.

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