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Posts Tagged ‘LGBT’

Why does the word inclusion make so many of us christian people cringe?

inclusion

We often want to only include our preferred group. People who think like us and have faith like us. If you think differently we feel you should stay in your own group with like-minded people, but leave us alone. Sorry to say I used to feel the same way, but have thankfully changed my mind.

I am not necessarily just talking about organized religion or institutional church, but accepting people in general in our daily lives.

We see this so much within christianity, such a wide variety of denominations and interpretations of the bible. This is only mentioning fellow believers who believe that God is with us and loves us.

When it comes to including people who we see as completely different from us, it is even worse. African-American, White, LGBT, Atheist, Muslim, Jew and on it goes. We seem to think as believers in God we need to separate ourselves from those who see things differently. We think we should not associate with them or people will think we agree with them and are a part of their way of living.

Really, behind all the labels we put on people we are all basically the same, so why not associate and get to know people who we feel are different from us? We can learn from one another and get to know one another and find that we really are not all that different.

inclusionbyjesus

We see Jesus do this all the time when reading the gospels in the bible. He did not differentiate people based on their religion, belief, lifestyle or nationality. He did not separate himself from those who thought, believed and lived differently. He loved and accepted all people.

Obviously loving and accepting people does not mean agreement nor are we going to always get along in life and live happily ever after together. Yet I believe it does mean treating others the same, with respect, kindness, acceptance and with the love of God through the power of the Spirit within.

Inclusion is not a bad word. It is not a bad or unholy way to live. Inclusion is about ALL of us. Inclusion is about living full lives – about learning to live together. Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life. Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community. Inclusion is about our abilities – our gifts and how to share them. Inclusion is the way of God and the way of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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What do you think of when you hear the word atheist, gay, transgender, muslim, jew, christian, black, white or a host of other labels we put on people?

Usually we think of something specific and usually something we have been taught or heard over the years. It depends on where you heard it or who taught you but a lot of times what we think is negative in one way or another.

With all the prejudices, fear, hate and misunderstanding among people it is sad that we forget behind each one of these labels there is a human being.

labelsonpeople

I know that not all people believe there is a God or they believe in different gods and I do not want to argue on that point. None of us can actually prove one way or another as to what we believe about God or life after death. It is basically a matter of belief or faith or scientific understanding. Yet as a christian I personally believe there is a God and He created each person in His image. He loves each and every one of us no matter what label humanity has put upon us.

Each of us deserves love, respect, acceptance and the basic human rights we all should enjoy.

Just because we accept one another and respect each other does not mean we always agree or always condone the actions of another, but we should be able to treat each other in kindness and respect even in our disagreements.

Rather than profile people into a particular group based on the label we use, we should remember the individual person behind the label. Even if there are a few bad apples in each particular group it does not mean everyone is the same.

As human beings each of us wants to live a happy, satisfying life. Each of us has worries, bills and every day obligations. Each of us wants to love and be loved, each of us wants to be accepted and happy.

We will not all see things the same way. Each of us has our own personality, belief system, lifestyle, desires and things we enjoy and that make us happy. We cannot expect everyone to be the same or believe the same or interpret things the same. We are each uniquely made and we each have our own path to walk throughout this life.

I know many in the christian world will not agree on this outlook on life. Many feel it is our job to point out the mistakes and sins of others as a way to witness to the love of God. I do not see it that way. In the bible we are told the Spirit will convict the world of sin, so I do not believe it is our job to convict others of sin. Besides, what is sin to one person may not be to another. It is not our job to be judging others. We are called to love one another even in our differences.

donotcondemn

Jesus came as the Son of God to show us what the Father is like and Jesus was not a condemning person. He loved and associated with many people who the religious crowd wanted nothing to do with. Sure Jesus said go and sin no more but he never condemned. He could say the same thing to each of us because we all sin. Jesus was perfect and never sinned so he had the right to condemn people and tell them how bad their mistakes were yet he never did.

The bible says Jesus came to proclaim the good news, yet when we only condemn and point out the mistakes of others that does not seem like very good news. Sure there are times when love needs to be tough and things need to be done that are hard. At the moment these actions may not seem very loving. We all know that we can be tough when needed because we do care for the other person and we are doing what we feel is the best for them, but we still love them even when things are not going so good.

As a christian I believe that God loves each of us and wants each of us to follow him by the Spirit. Even when we do not always make the best choices he still loves us and wants to have fellowship with us. As his followers I feel that is the same we should be doing to everyone we have contact with each day. Love God, love others and seek God’s leading each day. Look past the labels society has placed on people and see the human being that God created and loves.

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It is amazing to me to see such strife, arguing and condemnation among people….and I am talking among Christian people. For a group of people who are supposed to be known for their love for one another it seems there is more back-biting, arguing and sometimes near hatred than anything else among some groups.

I grew up in the organized church and was a part of it for well over 50 years, so I am not an outsider who knows nothing about the system. I saw first-hand within the church and I see first-hand through social media and other venues how we can treat those who believe differently than us.

We would go to Sunday morning church service and greet one another and sing of the love of God. We would hear the pastor preach on loving our enemy and loving one another and we would be all excited to go out and do that….until we got to lunch after church and met someone from a different denomination. That is not to mention someone who never set foot in a church building at all.

arguments

There is also the fact that many times there were those within the same church who could not get along with others over petty little things. Fortunately this is a small amount of people I am talking about and there are many faithful, loving people inside and outside the walls of the organized church.

Now days my wife and I are outside the walls of religion and no longer attend an organized traditional church. Now that we are outside the walls looking in, I can see why some people want nothing to do with Christianity today. We have become a people known more for what we are against rather than showing acceptance and love to people.

Why is it that we think our way of interpreting the bible is right and everyone else is just a little off base? There is nothing wrong with friendly debate, questioning and trying to learn from one another but many times even friendly debate ends up trying to prove our point and disprove others views.

It is good to listen to each other and hear different views and opinions, yet we must remember we are only hearing opinions of people. Changing our opinions based on what man says only gives us another man’s opinion. It is the Spirit of God within us that will teach, lead and guide us. There are many people in the church and outside the church who follow Christ and are kind, loving people who want to love one another and love others. Whether you attend an organized church or not does not make a difference. We need the encouragement and support of one another but that can happen anytime the Spirit draws us together.

We feel the Church is the people and we can assemble together any where, any time, any day. It does not have to be an organized meeting with one person in charge. We are all kings and priests according to God and we can all have a song, a word or teaching. The Holy Spirit lives within each of us and he is our teacher and guide. When you have the Spirit of God living within you and leading you there is no need for a man or woman to be your spiritual guide.

The sad fact today seems that a lot of us are so hung up on our personal beliefs and interpretations that we fail to see the human being behind all the labels we put on them. Each of us has the right and ability to seek God for ourselves and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us in the path he has for us. That does not mean everyone else is going along the exact same path and that is OK.

Even to those who do not believe in God or who believe in different gods, it is not our place to judge and condemn them. We are to love them with the love of Christ. I do not believe we are to push our ways on them or to try to convert them. That is the job of the Spirit who is the one who draws people to Christ. It is the decision of each individual to respond, reject or even deny that drawing.

acceptoneanother

Rather than continually fighting and arguing amongst ourselves and trying to prove who is right, who is wrong, whose interpretation is of God or not it is time for us Christian people to come together in love for God, for one another and for the people of this world who need to hear and see the love of God in action. We waste so much time trying to prove our way of thinking to one another while those outside of Christ are looking at us and trying to figure out why in the world they would want to be a part of us.

Obviously we are not all going to agree or see things the same way. We also need to remember that loving and accepting others does not mean we always agree or condone others actions, but as followers of Christ we can love and accept people even in our differences.

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If you are around people a lot or are on social media you will see many people are ready to argue in order to prove their way of thinking, especially in regard to spiritual matters.

arguingoninternet

Some atheists complain about christians believing in a fairy in the sky, some people get mad over the transgender debate, gays are treated like second-class citizens and some of them are hateful toward christians. Many christians fight with other christians and some can be very judgmental and condemning of atheists and the LGBT community. It seems each group is trying to prove why they are right and the other group is wrong and many times they do it in ways that are not so nice.

Why do so many people spend so much time arguing and defending personal views when we cannot prove any of it? Seriously, none of us can prove beyond a doubt our thoughts and views on spiritual things or life after death. We cannot prove God exists and we cannot prove he does not exist. There are so many varying doctrines, interpretations of the bible and denominations among christianity that it is not surprising we do not know who is right or wrong?

If we really think about it no matter what your religion, what your faith or belief, what your lifestyle, if you are atheist, christian, gay, agnostic, transgender, if you have a scientific view or creationist view none of us can prove our way of thought in regard to spiritual matters. It is our personal view and it is good to have those views but we should not be trying to prove our way and push it onto others expecting them to see things our way.

Each group is passionate about the way they see things and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is expecting everyone to agree and go along with our way of thinking.

We are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to be accepting of others. Being accepting does not mean we always agree with one another or approve of everything people do, but we should be able to be kind and show respect for everyone even in our differences. Being judgmental, condemning, or poking fun at one another is certainly not being loving and kind.

It all boils down to no matter what route we take in life, what we think about life after death, what we think about God or spiritual life, none of us can prove our way of thinking, at least not until death. Once we die, if there is life after death and I believe there is, we will know for sure at that point. Until that time we can only follow our way of thinking or believing, yet we should be respectful of others and the way they think.

loveyourneighbor

Those of us who are followers of Jesus should especially be loving and kind because Christ told us to love God and love one another. He did not say we should only love those who believe like us.

When reading about Jesus in the gospels we see a person who loved people and was accepting of everyone. He did not condemn nor judge and I believe he was God in human form showing us that God loves us all.

I believe God provides grace for everyone, but he gives us all freedom to choose what to believe and whether to accept it or not. I believe we should offer the same option to our fellow human beings no matter what label we put on them.

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My last post about ‘LGBT and the church’ received several comments that obviously disagreed with my views. That is fine and only to be expected because this is a public site and others are free to share their views.

Although it seems to me that sometimes people spend more time trying to prove their views and point out why they think other people are wrong rather than accept the fact that everyone sees things differently and no one is going to agree on everything.

I post my articles based on the fact they are only my opinion and the way I see things at this point in my walk with God. I am not going to change the opinion of any one else and I do not try to do so. No one is going to change my opinion either as I know each of us has a different view and I am not going to change my views based on human opinion. I know the Spirit of God within will teach and guide and my views will probably be different on some things than they are now as new truth is opened up by the Spirit.

As a follower of Christ I refuse to be judgmental and condemning. Even when other christians say I am wrong for not pointing out what they think are sins of others, I refuse to do so. I feel that being an example of Christ means to love people without condemnation and without ulterior motives.

LovelikeJesus1

It’s funny how christians are called to love people yet many spend more time judging each other and condemning those who have different views.

For me I will continue to love and accept all people whether male, female, white, black, gay, straight, transgender, christian, jew, hindu, atheist, etc without judgment or condemnation.

The thing many forget is that loving and accepting people does not mean we always agree or condone the actions of one another but we can respect each other and treat one another with kindness.

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Recently I read an article that I enjoyed reading yet I had some reservation with it because it had an undertone that seemed to make sure to say that being gay is a sin. Basically the article was on LGBT issues and the church. I thought the article was good but there were a few things in the article that made me think it was stating that we should accept gay people but still needed to point out that being gay is a sin, or that acting upon those feelings was sinful.

Obviously I may have misinterpreted what the author was saying and I am not sure if the author meant to make it sound that way, yet there are many Christian writers that definitely feel the need to make a point of saying that being gay is sinful. My thought is why do we christians feel the need to point out what we think are faults and sins of others. Why do we have the sense that we can play God and say what is and what is not a sin and who deserves our love and who does not?

First off, no matter who we are or what we think I do not believe any of us as followers of Christ are to be the sin police. We are called to love God and love others, not to point out what we think is sinful behavior in others. The law shows that we cannot live a perfect life and the Spirit convicts the world of sin, so by pointing out what we think is sin in other people is going beyond what God has called us to do.

Second, I am not one to say that being gay is a sin. I do not think that is the job of followers of Christ. There are certainly many different ideas and interpretations of biblical verses that shed a different light on the subject than what we grew up with in the church and to make a judgment on what is and what is not a sin in this area is not for us to do.

What about gay and transgender people who are Christians, are we to completely discount their faith and experience just because we think they are living sinful lives?

If we want to talk about sin then we have to point out that we all have sinned in one way or another, yet because of Christ the sinful nature has been crucified with Christ and the spirit within us is holy and righteous. Of course in the world we still commit sins but we are cleansed and forgiven of our sinful nature through grace. This is not narrowed down to only certain groups of people, grace has been made available to human beings as a whole.

John 3-16

To start separating people into different groups because of sin is wrong. We are not called to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters and we are to love and accept everyone in this world just as Jesus did, showing the love of God to everyone.

What has always bothered me is that we are so quick to make being gay a sin that is worse than anything else. Even those who accept the LGBT community still make a point of saying that gay life is sinful. They use such comments as hate the sin love the sinner or being gay is OK as long as you do not act on your feelings, yet statements such as these can be very hurtful.

What about in the bible where it says God hates divorce? Why don’t we separate those who have divorced into a lower class group of people like we do gay and transgender people? Based on statistics published in the online version of Charisma Magazine a report from a few years ago by the Barna Research Group revealed that 32 percent of those identified as born-again Christians have experienced at least one divorce. A related study also conducted by Barna Research found that among Protestant senior pastors, 15 percent have experienced divorce. Why is it that we Christians want to overlook such happenings among the Church yet make gay and transgender people the worst of sinners?

Obviously we all have our personal convictions of right and wrong and we want to live our lives in a pleasing way to God, but we are not to force our convictions and views on others. Just because others have different convictions and interpretations than we do does not mean we are right and they are wrong. We are not called to finger point, judge and condemn. We are called to love.

Love is the way of God and love does not include separation, judgment, condemnation or exclusion. Love is what we are called to show as followers of Christ and that includes everyone not just those who act, live and believe like we do.

Godloveseveryone

Whether gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, atheist, male, female, black, white or whatever religious belief you follow, apart from the labels we put on each other we are all human beings. Coming from a Christian perspective I believe we were all created in the likeness of God and loved by God. As followers of Christ we are to love our neighbor and respect each other no matter if we agree or not.

We are all entitled to live and believe in a way we feel is right. None of us should be pushing our beliefs on others and we should not have the attitude we are right and everyone else is wrong. We all have things to learn and we all should be willing to love others no matter what we believe. Our personal beliefs are basically all a matter of faith because none of us can prove beyond a doubt if our beliefs are right or wrong.

Speaking of people who see things differently than we Christians, whether you believe there is a God or not does not make a difference in how you should be treated. Unfortunately many times atheists are considered to be the archenemy of our Christian faith, yet we forget that atheist is just a label and there is a human being behind that label who deserves to be treated like anyone else. All of us are entitled to have our personal way of thinking and believing without condemnation and judgment from others.

As followers of Christ we are to live in the way Jesus lived which is the way of love and acceptance. That does not mean we all have to agree and live in complete harmony with one another. It does mean we can accept one another even in our differences knowing that in the eyes of God we are all loved and we can all respect one another and treat each other with kindness.

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Thinking about the tragedy in Orlando and several of the other terrorist tragedies around the world got me to thinking about all the blaming and finger-pointing going on. My personal opinion is more about extremists, which is a group we really do not hear a lot about. We hear a lot about Muslim extremists but extremists in general are much more than Muslim or any particular group of people.

PrayforOrlando

Extremists are a group made up of many groups. We have religious extremists, political extremists, LGBT extremists, racial extremists,  Christian extremists (another group we hear little about), Muslim extremists and a host of others groups that go to the extreme with trying to force their belief on others.

Extremism according to the dictionary is: going to the utmost or very great lengths in action, habit, or opinion; exceeding the bounds of moderation.

Today this seems to be associated with those who are dangerous and who will go to any lengths to promote their way or life and get others to accept their beliefs, even to torture and killing.

In a world where extremism takes over there is no peace. No one is safe from verbal and physical abuse and harm.

This is not to say that every person should be lumped into the extremist basket. Each and every group have many people who want to have a happy life, accept others and enjoy living in a way that they are happy and comfortable. Each group mentioned above have people who get along with others, love people, go to work, pay their bills, enjoy their family and are satisfied with life as they know it.

Unfortunately it is the extremists who get all the attention. It is the extremists who do all the damage and cause the hatred and un-acceptance of others who are different from them.

To me it is really disturbing to read some of the Christian extremists comments, a group who should be known for love and acceptance but are showing their true colors of hatred and unacceptance. These are not true Christians and it is a tragedy in itself that people will use the guise of Christianity to promote and spread their hatred and un-Christ-like ways.

StopExtremism

Rather than blame as a whole the LGBT community, Christian, Muslim and other religious people, the various races or the gun rights advocates for all the trouble, hatred, condemnation and judgment we should be looking at the extremists of each group. They are the ones who keep things stirred up and causing mistrust, unacceptance and hatred.

It is said that Jesus was an extremists in his time. I tend to agree with that statement. Yet Jesus was an extremists of the opposite kind. He was extreme in his love for others and those the religious crowd did not want to be around. He was extreme in bucking the religious system of rules and working your way to favor with God. The extremists today use hate, fear and murder to promote their way of life. Jesus used love, acceptance and doing good to others. We need more extremists like Jesus in our world today.

If we could change or control the extremists of today and get past all the labels we put on one another, maybe we could begin to see each other as human beings who want a good, happy and satisfying life. It will be then that we could learn to accept one another and live in a more peaceful atmosphere.

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