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Posts Tagged ‘LGBTQ’

by Jordan Hathcock

Without order nothing can exist-without chaos nothing can evolve. Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. – Oscar Wilde

It is a hard thing to grasp when one comes to the threshold of an unknown road. Do we panic? Do we push back? What do we grab on to when experiencing this unfamiliar and turbulent route? I don’t know for sure, but it does seem like the more we experience the chaos, the more we scramble for answers. Maybe instead of demanding answers, we start asking questions that are more relevant with the path in front of us? Specifically, within the American Christian landscape, we cannot deny that we are at a critical crossroad. Are we going to listen to the petitions that are being proposed or are we just going to seek the more familiar and accessible remedies?

The “answers” might seem finite and foundational–but in the end–the order we want will end up being of no value. This “abyss” seems unpleasant (maybe unbearable at times), but what if we can learn to abide through it, to better heal and liberate as a community? What are the questions and answers I am referring to? Well, if I had all the prevalent questions with the damaging responses in this blog, it would be a million-page novel. But I did come up with four main ideas which seem to shed some light regarding the current church vs the world problem we are experiencing. Look, the “church” is supposed to be leading in example on how healthy community is done. Unfortunately, it seems to be doing the opposite. I believe these ideas play a huge role in why this is the case.

1. Culture Irrelevance

Wait, hold the phones?! As Jesus-followers, aren’t we supposed to be the called-out ones that are “not of this world”? How can I say culture irrelevance is part of the problem of the current state of American Christianity? Easy. Throughout the Abrahamic faiths and Jesus tradition, all the players who had a role in bringing this movement into fruition, worked and lived within their own cultural context. You cannot have the prophetically justice stance of Moses without having a dictator like the slave-driving Pharaoh. Or the “rags-to-riches” story in the journey of Ruth through the perils of a patriarchal society. Its relative for all these characters when they engaged in the culture of their day. From politics, earth-care, education, traditions, and entertainment, all these cultural aspects play a role when shaping and forming one’s Jesus community. To place the church “outside” of the culture of the day, is to put it in a stale and unproductive state. This does nothing in bringing about the earth as it is in heaven admonition from Jesus. It only brings about an escapism which never produces good fruit.  

2. Consumer-Oriented Platforms

We want it all, we want it with ease, and we want it NOW! This is the modern era of consumer Christianity. The bigger, stronger, and faster consumer minded motif we find ourselves in is becoming more of a game than a gift. Our easy access to goods is bringing about those lovely seven deadly sins we all enjoy so much (tongue and cheek, hehe).  Instant gratification is so nice, isn’t it though? I love having access to so many goods from just the tip of my fingertips and the scroll of my smart phone. Our technology driven society is helping the insta (haha get it?)cause for sure (plug in and stay tuned). Yes, technology has done some great things for human civilization. But we cannot deny the negative side of it as well. I get that we all enjoy some type of “retreat” from the woes of this world so we can encounter God. This is all well and good. You want rock stages, fog machines, Starbucks coffee and strobe lights, knock yourself out. I am not trying to say to stop doing these types of practices. The problem I am seeing is, instead of getting disciples, we might be getting fans. Hey, but fans are the ones that keep this consumer machine rolling…we need fans, right? Economies based on exchange will need some admirers if we are going to keep this merry-go-round operational. Entertainment can be intoxicating along with being detrimental when it comes to participating in the Jesus Way. Look, we all are going to be within the non-dualistic tension of being consumers and lovers (1 Cor 13:4-8). Its what we do with this tension that matters.

3. Exclusionary Campaigning

Factionalism has been the new trend within the American church today. Looks like we are joining the American polarized political divide. Yes, we are supposed to act within our current cultural issues, but what is to be our tactics? It cannot be one that causes divisions and strife (Gal. 5:20) but one that produces LOVE, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That is what we are called to participate in. This is what produces the fruit that Jesus spoke of. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a crazy time to be alive in the USA. Tensions are high (so much so people are throwing out possible civil war). We are going through extreme social unrest from pandemics, racial injustices, economic disparity, and political strife. The divide is obvious and deep at the moment. But no matter what, the church is to be the example of love above all else (i.e., Shalom). This love may look like a “dividing sword” (Mat. 10:34) to “others” who might just not have a vision of a justice (love in public) rolling down like a river through our American streets. Regardless, we are here to love our enemies (which means we have no enemies) and be a people of inclusion, hospitality, and generosity.

4. Doctrine Certitudes

Jesus was about the Gospel, not doctrine. The Gospel should always be seen as a way to bridge the gap between the outcast and the conformed, the poor and rich, the black and white, the gay and straight, the man and woman, the transsexual and the heterosexual, the child and adult (Gal. 3:28-get the picture?). We cannot be bamboozled by this notion that the Gospel is just one tight net idea that once examined and believed, no other type of suggestions or behaviors can stem from it. The Gospel is a plethora of creative and innovative ways of being in the time and place we are given.It is not just a set of beliefs (atonement theories) to believe in, nor is it one certain type of action within one’s culture (social justice). The Gospel involves those ideas and actions, for sure! But it’s really just simply good news, which everyone needs nowadays.

* * *

Well, what do you think? Again, if we are looking to bring about the cross-like, forgiving love that Jesus brought, what do we do in the chaos and orderWE ABIDE (uh oh, I just gave you an answer haha)! We breathe. We seek. And maybe, just fucking maybe, we will find…

Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you. Abide in My love! 

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by Mike Edwards

I didn’t leave God. I left misrepresentations of what God was claimed to be like. An unloving God isn’t worth believing in. I was turning out to be a better lover than God, and I am a sucky lover.

Predestination was being taught in my early twenties. Does God actually choose (elect) some to go to heaven and the rest go to Hell? A loving God couldn’t be prejudice!

I struggled being taught women had to be more submissive to men than men to women. What a set up for abuse. Then, I got married to a woman who didn’t need a go-between with her and God, and she didn’t need any man making final decisions when there was an impasse. God couldn’t be a sexist?

Then I had kids. I had always been taught spanking was biblical. This hothead didn’t need permission to hit a child rather than being creative with those little boggers. We never spanked our children and none ended up in prison. You would as proud of them and their partners as I am.

Hell NO! Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. Such a place may be only imagined because of a Book. Why I Doubt Hell Is Real! God couldn’t be a hellish/sadistic torturer!

It makes no sense to me why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask straights or gays.  God couldn’t be a homophobe!

The Bible couldn’t be about saving people from a non-existing Hell. Jesus didn’t try to get people to say a magical prayer or confess certain beliefs to escape Hell. Jesus challenged us to look out for the interests of others than just our own. See here. One’s religion, or rebellion against a certain religion, is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance? God couldn’t be a xenophobe!

Finally, I let go of the idea that God controlled or always approved writers’ thoughts and words to form a book we call the Bible. Sometimes the writers got God right; sometimes the writers may have gotten God wrong. Don’t we all. Some of the above views of God could only come from a supposed every-word inspired, Book. At least don’t claim your interpretations are inspired also.

I became convinced there are certain representations of God that must be true if loving. See here.  I don’t claim certainty because God hasn’t spoken to me audibly or visibly, but I got a strong hunch many beliefs about God I was taught in Christianity are suspect.

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by Jim Gordon

We have talked about discrimination in regards to racism and women’s rights. Today we finish up by talking about another form of discrimination. The violation of LGBTQ rights and the hateful way many are treated.

Growing up in the church, I was always taught that the bible clearly stated that homosexuality was a sin. The thing with this was that I never questioned it or did any further study into it on my own. I just accepted what the pastor said, as I did most of what I was taught.

Over time I began thinking about the love of God. The bible said that God is love. Jesus told us to love God, love one another and love our enemies.

Throughout the gospels I read of the way Jesus lived on earth. He loved people. He never condemned, never judged, never played favorites. He treated people with respect and was inclusive of all. That made me begin to question why so many of his followers today act with such hatred and malice toward those they see as different than themselves.

I began reading books and listening to other views and realized there were other interpretations of the few verses I was always told condemned those who are LGBTQ. Such books as ‘Torn’ by Justin Lee, ‘God and the Gay Christian’ by Matthew Vines, ‘Unashamed’ by Amber Cantorna, ‘Is God a Gay Basher’ by Jan Liebegott and ‘Unclobber’ by Colby Martin. I read blog post by James Finn, Susan Cottrell and others who know what they are talking about and offered other explanations and interpretations of difficult bible verses.

Keith Giles published an article I found interesting entitled The word “Homosexual” does not appear In the Bible [Pre-1946]. Thus insinuating that there was another word and meaning in regard to homosexuality up until 1946 when the term was added.

Interpretations and beliefs aside, just reading about the nature of God as presented by Jesus, I could not understand nor believe that those who were born as LGBTQ were not loved or accepted by God. And if God accepts those who are LGBTQ, the rest of us should also.

After all, we are all human beings. The labels are added by groups of people and not God, labels which cause division, exclusion and people being treated as second-class citizens.

It is hard to believe that still today, LGBTQ people are so often discriminated against just because of who they love or how they feel they were created. Now, I am against lust and open sex just because it feels good whether it be between straight or LGBTQ people. I believe in committed, loving relationships between two people either straight or gay. I believe all the different gender identities covered as LGBTQ+ are people just wanting to be happy and accepted for being who they were created to be.

To be treated with hatred, to be looked down upon as sub-human beings, to not receive the same equal treatment and basic human rights as every other human being is just wrong. To be denied health care, housing, jobs, cakes, adoption privileges and being able to serve in the military just because of their gender is a terrible disservice to people that are loved by God. People who are loving, smart and capable of fulfilling their desires but are unable to do so because of all the unloving discrimination in our world.

What really gets me is that many times, not always, the most discriminatory actions and hate filled treatment comes from those who claim to be christians. Those who claim to represent God, who is love. They seem to show more hate and unacceptance than others. Those of us who follow the example of Jesus and who love God should be the biggest supporters, showing the love of God and being inclusive of all. Yet due to the mistranslation of some bible verses and due to taking what we were told or what we read without further study and follow-up, many choose to judge and condemn those who are LGBTQ without any further question.

As mentioned in my previous articles, those who are black/brown, female, and those with various religious and nationality backgrounds all deserve the same treatment and opportunities as anyone else. God did not make any mistakes or second-class human beings. All deserve the same human rights and equal treatment no matter what they believe, what they look like, who they love or how God created them.

It is time to forget the labels and see people as human beings. It is time we love God and love all people without the judgment, condemnation and hateful treatment we so often see in our world. It is time to follow the words of Jesus by loving God and loving one another.

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by Jim Gordon

We all know it is a fact that no matter what you believe, what your interpretation someone always has a completely opposite view. This is true on about any subject, religion, nationalism, LGBTQ issues, women’s rights, abortion and during the present day especially on COVID-19.

It seems we can get excited about hearing some truth that really connects. Then the next thing we read is an article by another person that completely disagrees with what you just heard. This is true whether it is religion, politics or the medical world.

More than that, most of us Christians get mad when someone disagrees with us and believes something different from “our” way of thinking. We get on Facebook and make ourselves look crazy because we talk about brotherly love, then we fight and argue with someone because they interpret things differently. Most of the time it is about things we cannot prove one way or the other.

We really have to stop and think that whatever it is we believe, whatever our interpretation, everyone is not going to agree with us. Everyone has a right to their way of interpretation as long as they do not force it on others. There is no reason for us to get mad at someone for seeing things differently.

In regard to our christian life, it is all a matter of faith. No matter what it is in spiritual matters, no one can really prove what is right and what is not, or what is real and what is not. Just because someone has a different interpretation does not mean they are right or wrong.

We need to keep our ears open to the leading of the Spirit, and follow on our own path looking to Jesus. That does not mean any and every path is the right one, but we cannot be the judge of who is right and who is wrong. Jeremy Myers, in his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire’ states, “The beautiful thing about following Jesus is that while He leads us all in the same direction, there are millions of different paths He can take to get us there. His goal, of course, is to advance the Kingdom of God on earth through the people of God who are being conformed into the image of God”. We need to follow Christ as he leads us individually, and then be ready to love all people, no matter if they are on the same path or not.

Let’s stop arguing, fighting and demanding that everyone agree with us. Follow the leading of the Spirit within and love those we meet along the journey. I think the Spirit of God is big enough to lead us all into truth in individual ways, yet all to the same goal.

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by Jim Gordon

We human beings all have opinions and personal views on how we think we and others should live. Christian people also have opinions and views plus the added interpretations of the bible.

Sad thing is that often times we want to force our views on others and expect them to see things the same way. When they do not do that, things can get quite ugly sometimes.

After a few days of watching my father-in-law deteriorate in his health, seeing him in the hospital and then going to rehab for a couple weeks, it really makes you think about life.

When your health is not good you seem to lose your thoughts about differences of opinions. You forget about who is right or wrong. You do not seem to think as much about standing your ground and trying to force your views on others.

He has nurses and aides who are male and female, black and white, LGBTQ and straight, along with other nationality backgrounds and you know what, it does not make any difference to him. These are normal people doing their job. He depends on them and they take care of him.

Why is it we human beings cannot act more like this every day, not just when something is going wrong with our health. People are people and there is no reason to be treating anyone with judgment, condemnation and hatred.

It seems many christian people feel it is our duty to point out the mistakes of others. We are to act on behalf of the Holy Spirit by convicting people who we think are sinning. Often what christian people view as sins are not sins at all, but an incorrect interpretation of bible verses that had different meanings and written to different people. Even when people are doing something that is sinful, it is not our job to take a self-righteous stand and convict them. We all have been there and done something that is sinful.

That fact is that no matter what, we are all loved by God. As christians we are only told to love God and love one another. People are free to live as they see is right. Any conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, not the people of God. We are only called to love.

Many will say that loving people will mean we sometimes have to show tough love. We have to point out their mistakes or they will go on sinning and their blood will be upon our hands. Again, the bible says the Spirit will draw people to God. We are not responsible for drawing people to God or changing their views of what is right or wrong. We are to love people, unconditionally just as God loves us.

How many people are drawn to God out of the hateful and condemning ways many people use to try and guilt them into coming to God? How many people are drawn because of fear? A few maybe, but is coming to God out of fear really love? Love draws and God says to love even your enemies.

Do not wait until some terrible event gets your mind off of your opinions and your interpretations. Follow the example of Jesus every day of your life by loving God and loving people.

You do not have to agree with everyone, none of us ever will anyway. Yet live your life doing what you feel God is leading you to do. Allow others the same freedom. Love them with godly love. God is able to draw people and change them in the areas that need changing. Even when the change does not happen, they are still loved by God and they should still be loved by us.

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by Jim Gordon

Discrimination is something that has gone on for a long time…too long. It is not just racial, which is bad enough. It is racial, sexual, gender, religious, political, national and probably other ways I am forgetting.

Any type of discrimination is wrong. It is not treating people as they should be treated. It causes division and causes people to be separated into class descriptions, and this should not be. There should be no second class citizens in our world.

I believe God created human beings and we are all created to be treated equally. We all should have the same rights and privileges, we should all have the same equality to be who we are, to be happy and live a full and complete life.

Discrimination happens to white and black, LGBTQ and straight, Christian, Atheist, Muslim and Jew, American and any other country. I see it as people saying those who are different from us are a lower class of people or not deserving of the same treatment and same rights as us. This is completely wrong and completely not Christ-like.

We are all human beings and no matter what label we wear, what color we are, where we live, what religion we are or what sexual identity we claim, we are all to be equally treated and loved.

God loves us all and as followers of Christ we are to love God and love one another. There is nothing in the way Jesus lived that says we are only to accept those who think the same as us. Jesus loved all people no matter who they were, where they were from or what they believed.

Worst off, even if we see someone as an enemy we are still told to love our enemies. There is no excuse for anyone to treat another person or group of people with discrimination. Everyone should be loved and even though we may not agree, we all should be accepted and treated with respect and kindness.

I certainly have seen more discrimination and hateful acts recently coming from those who claim to follow Christ. They seem to think it is OK to treat others with malice and contempt. For some reason they think this will make people see their mistake and come to a Christian way of thinking. Personally, I do not believe that is the way to draw others to the love of God. I also do not believe we need to have an ulterior motive of treating people in a way that we think will show them they need to come to our way of thinking. We are all free to believe as we choose and should not have any particular view shoved down our throat.

In a perfect world, we could all live our lives as we see is right for us and everyone would accept one another in those differences. Unfortunately, in our world that is never going to happen. Yet that does not mean we stop striving for a better world or for more acceptance and understanding among all people.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you noticed how often people get offended and feel they need to prove their point on so many topics and posts online? It usually does not go well once that starts. Especially when it comes to spiritual and biblical topics.

We fail to realize that not everyone has the same interpretation as another. We also fail to realize the fact that we cannot prove most of what we believe.

We can fight and argue between christian and atheist, one christian denomination and another, among Jewish, Christian, Islam and a host of other religions. We can argue about whether there is or there is not a God, is there a hell or not, what this verse means or what that verse means. We get mad and defensive when someone goes against what we believe and do our best to prove our view is right.

Thing is, we cannot prove our point. We cannot prove God exists, we cannot prove there is a heaven or a hell, we cannot prove any other aspect of the spiritual existence. This life is a life of faith and belief. As christians, we have faith that God is there and he loves us. We have faith in the guidance of the Spirit within us.

On the other hand, no one can prove there is not a God, there is not a heaven, or there is not a hell. Yet we will fight and argue until we almost hate each other trying to prove our way of thinking.

I think God can take care of himself. We do not have to fight and argue to defend Him. Rather than making ourselves look like mean, hateful people who have to be right we should be showing the love of God to everyone. Show his love to those who agree with us and also to those who are a hundred percent sure in their minds that we are wrong.

To be sure, we cannot have this kind of love and acceptance in our own strength. God says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it his love that flows out of us. Through His power, we can love those who live differently, who think differently, we can love our enemies and those who want nothing to do with God.

We can have our own way of thinking, our own beliefs and interpretations, knowing that God created each of us differently. Yet we need to remember we are not totally right on everything, and for sure we are not always going to agree with one another. We can all learn something by listening and communicating with others.

We all have a right to believe what and how we want to believe. People can put their faith in God or not. We can have completely different lifestyles. We can have a completely different interpretation on bible verses or we can completely reject the bible and not believe anything about it, and it is OK. Jesus did not tell us to judge and condemn others for what they believe. He did not say to force our views and beliefs on others. He did say to love one another.

We are not called to make people believe like us, or believe in God at all. We are called to go into the world and live the gospel message that God loves and accepts us. Jesus came to restore fellowship between humanity and the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to love and accept others just as they are.

We can have our individual beliefs and interpretations, and we do not have to agree with everyone. Love and acceptance do not mean agreement. We can love and accept others just because they are loved by God. We were all created in His image. We can have our differences and still accept and care for those God brings into our lives each day.

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by Jim Gordon

We often talk about being like Jesus, or living a Christ-like life. What does that really entail?

My first thought is being like Jesus does not necessarily mean imitating Jesus. I think that is something that is close but a little different. Imitating, according to the dictionary means to mimic; impersonate; to make a copy of; to have or assume the appearance of. Some of this can be understood to be good, but I feel it takes away from our own identity and the way we were made as individuals.

I do not think being Christ-like means we are going to do everything we read in the gospels just like Jesus. It may mean we do things that are not popular or accepted by everyone, but we do them as the Spirit leads us, not because we are imitating exactly what Jesus did.

Most of us probably will not go to a Jewish synagogue and overturn tables. We may not walk all over the country healing people and raising the dead. We may never face being stoned and we may not have to deal directly with the spiritual or political leaders of our day.

What it might mean is, some of us may leave the church system because it is man-controlled with its doctrines and various interpretations of the bible. This will cause us to walk in the wilderness outside the walls of religion. It may mean being shunned by those still within the system. Yet we still have the Spirit living within us and who will never leave us.

Some of us may disassociate ourselves from politics. In the U.S.A. many people think being christian means being republican. Jesus did not seem to associate himself with any political party of his time. He respected them by saying give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. Yet, Jesus goals and purposes were far beyond anything political.

Some may join an LGBTQ organization to show support, or work with race, gender or nationality relations. It may mean participating with and helping people that others would rather ignore. We want to help provide understanding and acceptance among people no matter what label they wear. Doing so may be misunderstood by others and may cause us to be cut off from friends or family who see things differently.

No matter how the Spirit leads us, I believe being like Jesus will be going about the Father’s business. That is to show love and not judgment and condemnation. It is encouraging, loving, building up and accepting people just as they are. Jesus came to our world to show us that God is not a God of hate, condemnation, murder and exclusiveness. God is love and a god of acceptance, inclusiveness and a god that walks side by side with us through everything we go through in this world.

We are all different. We each have our own personality, interests and special ways of living life. I think being like Jesus will be different as God works in the uniqueness of us. Being like Jesus will be different things to different people, but it will all be done by following the Spirit of Christ from within us. It will be a life of love for God and love for people each and every day.

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by Jim Gordon

I grew up in the institutional church and was always of the persuasion that being gay was a sin. I felt I was pretty open since saying I hated the sin but loved the sinner, I was doing better than most. Yet, either way I was saying being gay was a sin.

I never treated those who were gay in a bad way. I never treated any of my friends or relatives who were gay any different than I treated anyone else. I saw them as normal everyday people….but with a great sin in their life.

Things changed on this subject, and amazingly it was after leaving the institutional church. I started to see that God loves people, all people. There was no ‘I love you but’ when it came to God. I started to read some on the subject (something I never dreamed of doing before). I read Justin Lee and Matthew Vines. I really thought about a God of love and how could that God condemn people for the way he made them.

I finally began to see the LGBTQ community for who they really are….people. Take away the labels and you have human beings like everyone else. Just because they were born with different sexual views does not make them second class citizens and does not make them deserving of the awful ways they are treated, especially by the christian world. They are doing nothing more than being themselves the way God made them.

Today I seem to have a special sense of wanting to show those who are LGBTQ that all christian people are not the same. I want to help promote information and acceptance between christians and those who are LGBTQ (1). I know many who are LGBTQ (a few personally but most online) and who are christians who love God and serve him. I can no longer say I believe being gay is a sin. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation by the church and evangelical christians.

I do admit I do not understand the attraction of two men or two women. Of course, that is because I am straight. I bet those who are gay or lesbian do not understand me and my attraction to the opposite sex (well, just one person of the opposite sex, my wife).

I recently read a book by Amber Cantorna called Refocusing My Family. It is such an interesting read, telling of her questions, struggles and hardships in her walk with God and her family. Her traditional christian upbringing and her dad being an employee of Focus on the Family made it extremely hard on her when she realized she was gay. What terrible struggles and treatment she received. It is so hard for me to understand how parents can disown their children, yet I know it happens all the time.

I also believe that the christians who do believe being gay is wrong, they are still handling it all wrong. Whether you agree or disagree, our instructions from Jesus are to love God, love our neighbor and love our enemies. We are to love, not judge and condemn. I have read so many articles about the abuse the gay community takes, beatings, exclusion, disowned by their family, suicides. It is terrible. No matter what stand we take on the issue we are not to judge and condemn. As followers of Christ we are to be known for our love and treating everyone equally.

I personally am tired of the way the christian church has treated those who are LGBTQ. Whether they agree or disagree they should be treating everyone with love. For me I have concluded that being gay is not a sin and I fully love and accept all people just as they are. I hope I can show that love and acceptance to others in some way.

I do not completely understand it but for some reason this topic has taken on a new meaning for me. I am tired of seeing the abuse, the exclusion and the discrimination against those who are LGBTQ. Not sure where this will lead but hopefully, I can be a help by showing love and acceptance to those I meet who are LGBTQ.

(1) https://www.reddit.com/r/LGBTQ_Acceptance/

** UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

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by Jim Gordon

I have been thinking about the way christians, atheists and LGBTQ treat each other. Certainly talking about this can easily upset a lot of people, especially christian people. Obviously this does not apply to everyone but the majority seem to fit.

I write from a christian perspective and I have many christian friends both LGBTQ and straight, along with several atheist friends and LGBTQ who are not christian. I do not want to sound like I am taking sides or condemning anyone.

What bothers me is the way many christian people have so much hatred and animosity toward atheists and those who are LGBTQ. When speaking about many christian people it seems they have feelings toward atheists and LGBTQ that are not very Christ-like. There are times I can hardly believe the words and actions of some christian people toward them.

Christianity is not a religion, it is people who believe in and follow Jesus. As followers of Jesus we want to live like him. Jesus was loving and kind to all people. Many people who call themselves christian are so far from following his example, especially when it comes to atheists and LGBTQ. Rather than being known for our love, some christians seem more like the pharisees of Jesus day. Pharisees were the religious leaders who Jesus would continually reprehend because they thought they were so much better than everyone else. Many christians nowadays see atheist and LGBTQ people as their enemy which is certainly not the case.

The fact is God loves all of us, and as his followers we are to do the same. Just because people do not all believe the same or act the same we all deserve to be loved and accepted as we are. God loved us as we are, even before we came to follow him. A lot of christian people tend to forget this fact.

I also see a lot of demeaning comments from several atheist and LGBTQ writers about christian people from time to time. Sometimes I wonder if it started because of the mean comments from christians, but I do not like to see such things from anyone. If we could just get past the labels people put on one another and see the human being, the person who wants the same things: acceptance, happiness and love, I think we could do much better at getting along even in our differences.

I know we are not all going to agree on things, although as christians we have the power through the spirit to love and accept all people no matter who they are or what they believe. As people of God, we are to be known for our love for one another. Many of us have a hard time loving not only those who think differently but even other christians who have different interpretations of the bible. Showing love is the way of Christ yet we seem so often to choose fighting, arguing and condemning.

We know that many will not change their mind and believe in God as we do. As christians, we want everyone to know and enjoy the love and acceptance of our Father. Yet we need to remember it is the Spirit, not us, who draws people to the Father, and it is through love rather than rule keeping and condemnation. Those who choose not to follow a christian belief still deserve our love and understanding even when we do not agree.

I think many times christian people are afraid to accept others who they feel are not of the faith because they feel it is denying their own faith. They feel accepting others in love is saying we are in agreement on everything, yet they think they should be pointing out what our differences are and leading them to a christian faith. My viewpoint is we should love and accept others as Christ did and leave any convicting or changing to the Holy Spirit. Those decisions will be between God and the individual.

Rather than condemning and avoiding those who are different than us, we should be willing to spend time getting to know, accept and understand them. We can talk and discuss our differences and learn from each other, yet without the expectation that we are going to change anyone.

Jesus told us to love God, love one another, love our neighbor and to love our enemies. He did not say we had to agree with everyone. He did not say we had to change everyone to believe like we do. We can all maintain our personal beliefs and still accept one another as human beings without the judgment and condemnation.

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