Yesterday, my wife received a “loving message” from a friend. This message was kind in that it clearly said, “it is absolutely up to you to live the life you see fit to live”. In essence, this person “accepted” that Deana has decided to live her life married to a woman, though the implication was that her lifestyle is a choice. Deana, like me, knows that is not reality, but we don’t argue the point often. But, the message didn’t end there. The woman, “in love”, said that she would be praying for Deana as she believed Deana’s choice will ultimately lead to a premature death, which made the writer of the note very sad.
I am obviously and admittedly reacting to this interaction in a way that is not my desired M.O., though I will do my best to do it logically and calmly. However, I think it is important to break through the barriers and be real about aspects of our lives that exist. Deana, for her part, reacted in grace to this “friend” and sent out love in return. I commend her. But I am going to be super real here for a moment and share some intimate reality with you. This message made both of us cry. This message, for a moment, made us wonder why we try so hard to love others, who AT LEAST EVERY COUPLE OF WEEKS reach out and do nothing but condemn us (different people, randomly). As the tears roll down our faces, we audibly wonder why we fight so hard to remain in the Christian community. We sit and, as we cry, feel guilty for the rage that begins to stir in our guts, praying to the Lord to please, PLEASE, lead us in His path and help us not to react in the flesh. But, even with the shame we feel for the rage that is burning slowing across our stomachs, it is way better than the pain and anguish we feel as the slime of judgment sent by others fights its way over us. Rage is always my preference to the pain, and yet I know we are called to love.
I ask you seriously……..think hard about this………if I walked up to a smoker and said, “I love you so much and I know it’s totally up to you to smoke. I honestly don’t have a problem with you smoking because you’re my friend. But I am praying for you because I know it will probably mean you will die way younger than you should.”……I would probably be somewhat accurate. At best, their quality of life could be significantly compromised as they aged. But in doing so, was the relationship that I so obviously have (“I love you so much”) EDIFIED by the interchange? Do you really, REALLY think that “showing love” is telling someone “you’re killing yourself” really going to make them think about what they’re doing? Maybe. I think the interchange builds barriers, throws shame from one friend to another, and doesn’t really change the fact that the one friend will still smoke. Condemnation will not cause them to stop smoking.
What if it is something that is NOT really a choice? What if I told you I haven’t had over 1200 calories a day for weeks, that I have been way more active, and I haven’t lost weight? What if I am just glad that I haven’t GAINED weight, but you tell me I am going to die younger because of my “poor eating habits”? What if genetics or other health issues are causing this weight issue for me? What am I supposed to do with your “claims of love” when you take hope and throw it down the toilet with your words? What if I am at a breaking point, frustrated from my lack of weight loss, and then you come in and put the nail in the coffin of my efforts with your words of condemnation?
I don’t want to be that kind of person. I don’t want to DIScourage, but ENcourage. And telling someone they’re going to hell or going to die young is not encouragement. It is BS.
The Bible is clear that the tongue is dangerous – it can cause fires to burn, hearts to break, and unrighteousness to befall man. Yet, the same tongue can EDIFY others. And I contend that the “tongue” of this friend did not edify Deana. Instead, condemnation was the only byproduct. And, truth be known, so many follow this supposed “love” formula and I am rather sick of it. Stop being that way. It doesn’t do ANYTHING except maybe make yourself feel righteous or caring and that is BS too. You don’t give a CRAP about Deana and you don’t give a CRAP about the smoker or the fat person, but you may only feel better because now “the blood is not on your hands”. Well, it never WAS on your hands. I’d rather you pray for us if you truly feel compelled to do so, because we have faith in Jesus Christ and we actually TRUST in Him. But I digress.
Ephesians 4:29 ESV says:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Deana was not built up by that message, but was torn down. She said to me, “The only reason I will not leave the Christian Community** is because of you and (very close friend). The two of you speak Christ to me, and I am so glad for it. But today, it is harder to walk in that decision.”
I am writing this blog today for no other reason, from my heart, than to encourage you to think about how you interact with EVERYONE. Are you building them up? Do you REALLY believe telling someone they’re going to hell or will die young because of their life gives grace to them? Think on these things, because I have met hundreds of people who have told me they do not go to church because of Christians telling them they are going to hell, are an abomination, or other hope-stealing comments. That is not a cop out by some angry lesbian, that is the truth. And my wife, who loves the Lord with all she is, doesn’t need to end her evening by crying about being told she is going to die young for being married. FEAR doesn’t work, and if I may suggest, it does nothing for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are better than that.
Thank you for reading.
** This is NOT about losing faith in Christ or rejecting Him. This is about associating with the very RELIGION and those who walk in condemnation in the name of Christ.