Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why I believe in equality...

Here we are again, nearly three years after the hearings on legalizing same-sex marriage began, in the middle of the same storm of arguments, debates, condemnation, judgment, anger, opinions, beliefs, & extremism that we faced the first time.  Now that a decision has been made, the line has been re-drawn, and we find ourselves being forced to choose a side.   There have already been some very good articles written/blogged so far, and my desire is not to compete with these articles, or to attempt to enter the heated debates happening all around us.  I simply believe that as a leader, it is my responsibility to attempt to explain why I believe what I believe, and help to clarify a balanced stance on the situation to those watching, listening, & following me.

On one hand, as Christians, we want to stand up for the truth of what the Bible teaches us about relationships, the institution of marriage, and this dangerous thing called sin.  At the same time, many of us find ourselves unable to reconcile the Biblical mandate to love others, with the cultural outcry of letting “love win”.  After all (according to the cultural argument), if we really believe in love the way we say we do, how can we refuse to love someone just because they are ‘different’ from us? Somehow, we have confused love (an unconditional commitment to selfless action) with an unwavering approval for every lifestyle & choice made by others.  Somehow, it has become the norm to be offended when someone who claims to “love,” will not accept our lifestyle choices or validate our feelings.  We scream “intolerance”, but it’s funny how “tolerance” is supposed to force me to conform to someone else’s beliefs, but not require any amount of understanding or sensitivity, to any of my opinions or perspectives.

As much as I am not a controversial person, and try to avoid anything that leads to an argument or debate, I also feel that as a follower of Jesus (not just as a minister of the Gospel) I am called to share, stand for, and point others to the truth in a loving & God-honoring way.  I do not believe that my stance is one of hatred, prejudice, anger, fear, pride, or a refusal to “change with the times”.  I personally see no difference between my struggles, insecurities, choices, & feelings – and those of any other human being on the planet.  All of us – regardless of race, preference, past, heritage, desires, hopes, religion, or sincere belief – are a product of relational brokenness & an inner capacity to feed our own selfish wants called sin.

I know that we have a negative reaction to that word, and many of us don’t like to be told that we are “sinners” – mostly because our pride doesn't want to have to admit that there is something wrong, or that we are inherently imperfect and in need of help & “saving”.  But the truth is that it shouldn’t take long for us to look around the world, and see that there is desperately something wrong with humanity. For all of our self-help & ‘evolutionary’ achievements, we are incredibly sick and self-destructive at the core of our being.  Whether it’s murder, adultery, lust, stealing, lying, deception, manipulation, selfishness, greed, gluttony, hatred, prejudice, slavery, molestation, or same-sex attraction – it all stems from a distorted & discolored view of all that we were originally designed & created for.

Will some people be offended at those statements? More than likely.  Will some people feel like I have completely attacked their entire identity & have ‘judged’ their entire belief system in the most non-loving way possible? Also, more than likely.  However, without knowing me personally, and knowing the actions and heart of love that go along with these words, all anyone can do is speculate at my intentions, motives, & meanings.  On a side note: this is main problem with attempting to debate, argue, & force people into agreeing with our perspectives over social media (or any means) – no matter what you type, no one can ever completely know what you’re saying, unless they can hear you say it.  All I can do is tell you that I don’t believe that anyone on the planet is evil, less of a human, or deserves to be mistreated simply because they feel they are gay, or are attracted to the same sex.  The reason that I disagree with the ruling of the SCOTUS, is not because I do not love members of the LGBT community, but because I believe in the original design, intention, & creation of marriage & humanity.  I can love, respect, & value any relationship with someone who is gay, the same way that I can with someone who has committed adultery, engaged in pre-marital sex, gotten a divorce (for the wrong reasons), or not upheld the Biblical commitment of marriage. 

Do I expect everyone to automatically see things from my perspective? No. Is it my goal to force every human to hold fast to my values & convictions?  No. Am I trying to force people into my views, and treat them differently if they refuse?  Also, no.  Do I desire everyone I know to find a relationship with the Son of God, Jesus, and follow Him with their entire being?  Absolutely.  Why?  Because I believe that the reason we all need Him, is that we were intentionally & carefully created to be in relationship with Him.  It's not my job to point out anyone’s flaws or shortcomings, or attempt to “fix” everyone I know, and make them be more like me.  Will my beliefs and convictions offend people, and often stand in opposition to their beliefs and convictions?  You bet they will.  But it won’t be because I’m trying to be a jerk & force my faith onto others – it will be because I have committed my life to following Jesus & upholding the truths & standards that I believe are His heart & intention for mankind.  That is a decision that I will never apologize for, and never be sorry for.

I hope that through all of this, you can still respect me as much as I respect you.  I hope that I have encouraged respect between you & the relationships in your life.  I hope, that as a Youth Pastor and a leader, I have shown how truth & love can co-exist, and why it’s important to value both of those things in the context of relationships.  I think it is possible to believe in the same things as you, but also believe in a deeper and greater purpose for your life, that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

I believe in equality, because we are all equally guilty of missing the mark of perfection, and being sinners separated from a holy & loving God.

I believe in love, because Jesus Christ freely laid down His life in order to redeem my sin & brokenness, and chose to embrace & love humanity – even though our choices & lifestyles were against Him.

I believe in freedom, because the sacrifice that freely made salvation available, allows me to find true liberty in the purpose, identity, & truth of God’s Word.

I believe in marriage, because the One who ordained & created the institution in the first place, had a holy & perfect purpose in creating man & woman to journey together, in finding their completion in Him alone.

I believe that my opinion, belief, & faith count just as much as yours does, and does not automatically make me a bigot, a racist, or narrow-minded.

I believe that we were never meant to find our identity in our sexuality or preferences, but in the God who created us in His image.

I believe that truth is absolute, eternal, and is an unchanging standard that we cannot update, alter, or disregard because of feeling, preference, or prejudice.

I believe that just because something is popular, legal, or socially acceptable, does not mean it is right. 

I believe that love won on the cross almost 2000 years ago, and continues to transform hearts & lives today in a way that no law or legislature can ever come close to matching.

My hope is that one day you might see why these things are important to me, and why they are worth believing in.

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