I woke up this morning feeling uneasy. Sunday mornings always make me a little uneasy, but after Friday’s SCOTUS ruling (and the ensuing social media demonstrations for or against marriage equality), I was worried. Very worried.
Would I see disapproving stares from people who read my Facebook feed and know where I stand on this issue? Would someone corner me in church and ask me how I could possibly support marriage equality? Would they speak about how clear the Bible is about homosexuality?
Would I have to respond with, “If the Bible is so clear about things, why are their hundreds of Christian denominations – some for and some against?” Would someone make an off-hand comment during worship implying everyone in the room ought to be against the decision?
Well, I’m back from church and none of that happened. I should have known better. This was the church where almost six years ago I sat in a small group and we discussed different origin theories. No one told me what to believe or spoke about how obvious the answers are. No, we discussed. We looked at science and evidence and the Bible.
That group really changed things for me. It gave me hope that a church existed where people could have doubts and questions and non-literal interpretations of the Bible. (Now, I’ve been in other churches where people debated and discussed, but we moved away before we could really get too involved.)
My church is a small, but mighty church in a small, but mighty town just south of Omaha, Nebraska. We are made up of people from many different walks of life and from different religious backgrounds. Some who come have been wounded by Christians. (Haven’t we all?) Some who come have never been to church before. Some are life-long followers of Jesus who imagined the church could be something a little or a lot different than what they’ve experienced.
Now, we’re as flawed as the next church. We’re flawed people, imperfect, but we follow after Jesus. Together. Even, and especially, when we don’t agree with each other. And that is beautiful. And that is honoring to God.
Sometimes church can feel a lot more like the old Kris Kristofferson’s song, “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” (Cash might have sung it, but Kris wrote it and I’ll always give credit to the writer.) It saddens me that many people never step foot into a church because the message they receive from Christians is one that says they are not welcome. Unfortunately, those dissenting voices are often the loudest.
I acknowledge that there is a difference between disagreeing with someone and disowning someone, but it is extremely difficult for people on the receiving end to differentiate between those sentiments. Christians who do oppose marriage equality or homosexuality – two concepts that are mutually exclusive, by the way – must be very careful in how they express their beliefs.
If all Christians, regardless of their stance on anything else, are to focus first on loving God and loving our neighbors (thus spoke Jesus), we must voice the Gospel message of hope and love louder, SO MUCH LOUDER than we voice our opinions (yes, opinions) about anything else. We must spend 99.9% of all our energy loving God and loving people, listening to people, serving people and spreading the Good News. Then maybe, if there’s time (HINT: There probably won’t be), maybe we get to other things.
To some, this warrants accusations of my commitment as a follower of Jesus. No wonder I’m terrified to go to church, but I’m thankful I found a place where some agree with me and some don’t, but we all focus on what matters most. #LoveWins
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