Grace

Some things I admire about Christianity, as it has been explained to me:

  • Loving thy neighbor and feeding the poor
  • Judging not, and casting not the first stone
  • Unconditional acceptance because everyone is imperfect. “God loves you just as you are.”

Sadly, it seems that many people who call themselves Christians do not love their neighbors or feed the poor. They judge others every chance they get, and their acceptance is conditional as all get out. “God hates fags.”

Some things I admire about liberals/progressives:

  • Conviction that we have a collective responsibility to feed the poor, whether we love them or not.
  • Judging not.
  • Love, love, love. Let gay people get married. Those Christians are about hate but we’re all about loooove.

Sadly, my liberal/progressive comrades also often fail at practicing what they preach.

Consider this essay, a painfully truthful account in which an evangelical Christian family deals with a son who has told them he is gay. (Full disclosure: I know the author slightly.) Linda tells all in this piece. She was distraught by her son’s revelation at age 12. They spent the next several years trying to pray the gay away with counseling, churching, “reparative therapy,” and so on. Apparently in despair over his inability to become un-gay, the boy immersed himself in drugs and disappeared.

By the time he returned, Linda had come to regret it all. She’d been wrong and she knew it. And just when it seemed like it might all turn out okay—the parents got a clue, the boy got into rehab—a plot twist so devastating it could’ve happened in a Russian novel occurred. The boy relapsed, overdosed, and died.

This is what I took away from the story: Linda and her husband loved that child and were motivated solely by their love and care for him. That their deeply held religious beliefs caused them to act on that love and care in such a damaging manner is tragic, and they (and their son) paid the ultimate price. Since then, Linda has become an advocate for unconditional acceptance and love. She’s still religious, yes, but her understanding of how one lives as a Christian has changed. “God loves you just as you are.”

So, it was with dismay that I read through the hundreds of comments on Linda’s soul-baring essay. Many are nasty and cruel, accusing Linda and her husband of murdering their beloved son. That she learned so very hard a lesson and that she bravely presented that lesson in public in the hope of preventing such a tragedy from happening in another family seems to carry no weight. The readers are unrelentingly unforgiving. This is what I took away from the liberal/progressive comments: Love and acceptance and tolerance and rainbows are only for those who are perfect in our eyes.

To callously refuse to offer another imperfect, blundering human being the very grace that you yourself are demanding is despicable hypocrisy. I hope the writers of the comments someday learn what love really looks like.

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9 thoughts on “Grace

  1. I read that essay not very long ago. The comments were awful. It broke my heart to see so many people relentlessly berating her for mistakes she’d admitted to and atoned for.

  2. I have been on the receiving end of the disapproval and subsequent hurtful actions of both Christians and liberals. Both situations have made me realize that people do not deal well with those they they think are wrong (whether they call that wrong “sin” or not). But these instances have also given me a greater love for the true meaning of my faith because through it all I believe one of the core tenets of my faith is unconditional love that accepts and nurtures and grows with the “outsider”. It’s not easy, because whether you call it love or tolerance, it involves tolerating offense. And not offense like you wore white after labor day, but offense that honestly offends you, like someone saying “fucking Republicans” or someone using spanking as a form of discipline (to draw from my personal life, HA HA HA!). For me, I believe God can make my heart big enough to hold any type of offense and still be overflowing with love if I can see people how He sees people – as precious, beloved, created children (through the process of evolution… see why I get in trouble everywhere I go?!?).

    That is such a heart-wrenching story. There is something about tragedy that makes people want to point fingers. *sigh*

    • I seem to have drawn a dichotomy between Christian and liberal, but in fact many people are liberal Christians–like you. That puts you in the position of drawing the ire of both conservative Christians and non-religious liberals. Duck!

  3. That is a sad story all the way around. Why would anyone want to add to these people’s grief? I agree with you, that is not a loving response.

  4. Jodi, bless you, my friend, for speaking up in a way that I cannot. I know that so many people have been horribly hurt by the church, and many of the hateful comments come out of their pain. But I still have to avoid reading them…can’t avoid many of them…but the ones I can, I do. Because they stick to my soul and hurt like crazy.

    Thank you for knowing my heart, friend, and knowing that though all this was never intended to go “public” in the way it has, we believe, with all of our hearts, that if it helps ONE family love their child more fully, then it is worth a landslide of hate mail.

    I am so honored to be your friend!

  5. geez. I hear you. sadly, because of their inability to consider any other way of thinking other than holding tightly to their Christian beliefs, Christians, generally, do harm or deeply offend others with their actions and words. I know, I was one.

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