WARNING: Long post ahead!
First, let me state this.
I am not American.
I was born, raised, and am still living in Bermuda, but the philosophies and beliefs that surround this issue is not an American issue, but it’s a human issue. So I’m showing my human card, and I’m diving in.
Also, let me state: I am a Christian. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus died to save me from my sins and that without Him I am lost. I believe that what’s written in the Bible is true, and that because of my beliefs that I will go to Heaven when I die. This is the point of view I’m writing from, because it’s the one that I know and I live with. If you can’t hear me past all of this, that is your issue and not mine. Feel free to stop reading now.
I usually stay quiet on huge issues like those that have been going on in the American media, but after a conversation with some ladies I very much admire on Twitter, I was inspired to share my full feelings and let folks know that my religion does not speak for me. I, and I alone, speak for me. I don’t claim to understand all the ins and outs of every issue; I am not here to argue doctrine, or politics. I am here to argue for the humanity of people.
I do not advocate abortions. I can’t. My own moral compass and convictions will not let me, in good conscience, allow me to do so. If you asked me for advice, I would advise you to choose another option. Will I stand in the way of others who choose abortion, though? Will I cause someone to feel less than human because they do not share my beliefs? If I was sixteen, I might have. Thank God I’ve grown since then. I alienated many of my friends from me in my teen years, arguing to be right, to get the upper hand in a debate. To save them? Not really. Just so I could be more ‘right’, more ‘holy’, or so I thought. The truth is this: people will get abortions. Even Christians will get abortions. People have been doing it since the dawn of time, whenever that was. Before abortions were made legal, women were relegated to back alleys, to isolation, to shame and pain. I would never want to go through that; why would I push such a scenario on someone else?
I advocate contraception. I have friends who use it for pregnancy prevention, and others for other medical issues. Is it my business what they use it for? I may be curious, but that’s about the extent of it. Their reasons for doing so are their own. Will I shame them because I advocate abstinence (which I don’t, but for arguments’ sake)? Will I demean ALL women in a vain attempt to force SOME women into a mold that I deem worthy?
But then, that begs the question. What about men? What about the erectile dysfunction prescriptions that we see plastered all over the tv? Nobody shames men about these things. They have one purpose, really, don’t they? To get it up. To have sex. To please your woman. Is all that sex procreative? We know it isn’t. It would be naïve and frankly quite ignorant to think it is. So what then? The man can have sex, but the woman can’t? What’s a man to do then? Go to another man? Oh no, we can’t have that! That’s against God’s law! We can’t have all these homosexuals running around and going to hell!
But that’s an argument for another time. Here is my point.
Look at Jesus. Who did he rail against? Who did he shame and shout against? The Romans? The ‘traitors’? The ‘sluts’? The ostracized and the marginalized? No. It was the Pharisees. The Saducees. The teachers of the law. The pious and popular. Those who made themselves rich off religion. Those who preyed on the beliefs and fears of others. Sound familiar? It should.
Now, people say you should never use the Bible to argue a position about the Bible, but this is my argument, not theirs. And, this is to those who decide to use the Bible to condemn and oppress others. So, here we go. I’ve put all these verses in context, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THEY SHOULD BE! All emphases are mine.
Luke 6: 32-37 says: 32 If you have love for those who have love for you, what credit is it to you? for even sinners have love for those who have love for them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is it to you? for even sinners do the same. 34 And if you let those have the use of your money, from whom you are hoping to get it back, what credit is it to you? even sinners do so to sinners, hoping to get back as much as they gave. 35 But be loving to those who are against you and do them good, and give them your money, not giving up hope, and your reward will be great and you will be the sons of the Most High: for he is kind to evil men, and to those who have hard hearts. 36 Be full of pity, even as your Father is full of pity. 37 Be not judges of others, and you will not be judged: do not give punishment to others, and you will not get punishment yourselves: make others free, and you will be made free:“
What kind of love do I show if I only pay attention to others whom I know can repay me in kind? Even evil people do that. Because they’re looking out for themselves, not necessarily showing generosity. They know they’ll get it back. Like a bank loan. How heart-warming.
Here’s another one. Jesus sits down with a Pharisee, who was probably hoping to win favour or some fame by saying they had lunch with the popular new teacher:
Luke 11:37-46 says: 37 Now, while he was talking, a Pharisee made a request that he would come to a meal with him; and he went in and took his seat at the meal. 38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised because he came to the meal without first washing himself. 39 And the Lord said to him, You Pharisees make the outside of the cup and the plate clean; but inside you are thieves and full of evil. 40 O you foolish ones! did not he who made the outside in the same way make the inside? 41 But if you give to the poor such things as you are able, then all things are clean to you. 42 But a curse is on you, Pharisees! for you make men give a tenth of every sort of plant, and give no thought to right and the love of God; but it is right for you to do these things, and not let the others be undone. 43 A curse is on you, Pharisees! for your desires are for the most important seats in the Synagogues and for words of respect said to you in the market-place. 44 A curse is on you! for you are like the resting-places of dead men, which are not seen, and men go walking over them without knowledge of it. 45 And one of the teachers of the law, answering, said to him, Master, in saying this, you give a bad name to us as to them. 46 And he said, A curse is on you, teachers of the law! for while other men are crushed under the weight of the rules you make for them, you yourselves do not put so much as one finger to them.
God didn’t only create the outside of a person, the part we use to consider their worth, or lack thereof, but also the part that matters most. The part that feels. The part that makes up who that person REALLY is. If the Pharisees really understood this, they wouldn’t worry so much about whether someone was ‘clean’, ‘dirty’, or ‘worthy’. They would see a person who was ‘hurt’, ‘struggling’, ‘scared’, or ‘alone’. Jesus is basically telling them, “Don’t let the pursuit of holiness get in the way of humanness. Don’t get so wrapped up in looking good, that what’s inside corrodes away.”
Is it my place to judge what others think is right? Is it my right to impose my beliefs, and my will on others, even if (or especially if) they don’t believe what I believe? The writer of Romans, himself a Pharisee by the name of Paul, says this:
Romans 14: 12-22: “12 So every one of us will have to give an account of himself to God. 13 Then let us not be judges of one another any longer: but keep this in mind, that no man is to make it hard for his brother, or give him cause for doubting. 14 I am conscious of this, and am certain in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself; but for the man in whose opinion it is unclean, for him it is unclean. 15 And if because of food your brother is troubled, then you are no longer going on in the way of love. Do not let your food be destruction to him for whom Christ went into death. 16 Let it not be possible for men to say evil about your good: 17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 And he who in these things is Christ’s servant, is pleasing to God and has the approval of men. 19 So then, let us go after the things which make peace, and the things by which we may be a help to one another. 20 Do not let the work of God come to nothing on account of food. All things are certainly clean; but it is evil for that man who by taking food makes it hard for another. 21 It is better not to take meat or wine or to do anything which might be a cause of trouble to your brother. 22 The faith which you have, have it to yourself before God. Happy is the man who is not judged by that to which he gives approval.”
That’s refreshing, isn’t it? Paul is asking us to make peace, so that we can help each other. If something for me is wrong, should I shame and inhibit someone else who doesn’t believe it’s wrong? Should I fight with someone over something that is, at the end of the day, a minor issue? Are all the great works of God that I believe to be true balancing on a woman taking a pill that she wants to? Or that a man loves another man and wants the same rights that I as a woman enjoy if I love a man? God is greater than that, but as His representative here on earth, I risk bringing all of His greatness to nothing. If I hurt others because of what I think they should or shouldn’t do, I’m not operating in God’s love, which is the one thing Jesus told me I should do. How many times did Jesus tell us to love? Love each other, love our neighbors, love our enemies. Love those who don’t, won’t, will never love you back. Love what is good. Hate what is evil. Evil is more elusive, more tricky than we think. Evil can take a shower, put on a suit, and get a makeover. But what could be more evil than oppression and bigotry?
Another passage that talks about God’s love is this:
1 John 4:7-12 says: “7 My loved ones, let us have love for one another: because love is of God, and everyone who has love is a child of God and has knowledge of God. 8 He who has no love has no knowledge of God, because God is love. 9 And the love of God was made clear to us when he sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. 10 And this is love, not that we had love for God, but that he had love for us, and sent his Son to be an offering for our sins. 11 My loved ones, if God had such love for us, it is right for us to have love for one another. 12 No man has ever seen God: if we have love for one another, God is in us and his love is made complete in us:”
THIS is the way God wants Christians to love each other. We should love others not because it’s convenient for us, but because we ourselves were loved. Was it easy for God to send His son? If you had to give up your child to save people who might not ever know or care how much you sacrifice, would it be easy or convenient for you? That’s the amount that the writer is saying that God loved us. So if Christians truly believe that, we should jump at the chance to love others! Is it easy? Of course not! Is it right? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! Outside of religion, it’s simply the idea of ‘paying it forward’. Who’ll be the jerk to take and not give back?
And here’s the kicker. Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven, when God separates and judges the good and the evil:
Matthew 25:35-45 says: “35 For I was in need of food, and you gave it to me: I was in need of drink, and you gave it to me: I was wandering, and you took me in; 36 I had no clothing, and you gave it to me: when I was ill, or in prison, you came to me. 37 Then will the upright make answer to him, saying, Lord, when did we see you in need of food, and give it to you? or in need of drink, and give it to you? 38 And when did we see you wandering, and take you in? or without clothing, and give it to you? 39 And when did we see you ill, or in prison, and come to you? 40 And the King will make answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. 41 Then will he say to those on the left, Go from me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which is ready for the Evil One and his angels: 42 For I was in need of food, and you gave it not to me; I was in need of drink, and you gave it not to me: 43 I was wandering, and you took me not in; without clothing, and you gave me no clothing; ill, and in prison, and you came not to me. 44 Then will they make answer, saying, Lord, when did we see you in need of food or drink, or wandering, or without clothing, or ill, or in prison, and did not take care of you? 45 Then will he make answer to them, saying, Truly I say to you, Because you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.“
We don’t see God saying, “Because you kicked those sinners to the curb, and made them shape up and fly right, you can come in. Because you stopped the wave of people having sex all over the place and shamed them into not killing their babies, step right up! You made those lazy people get up and work so they could be worth something to you, right on!” But if we show love to the very LEAST of people; those who everyone else sniffed at and passed over, that’s what He wants us to do!
If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me. I’m almost done, I promise.
So, why is this birth control/abortion/LGBTQ rights issue important to me? Is it because I agree with them? I can assure you I don’t understand or agree with every aspect of all of them. It’s because people are important to me. People that I can see. People I can love. People who are just trying to do what I’m doing every day.
I may not love what you do. I may not agree with you. I may not believe what you believe. I may not even like you. But, I will love you, as much as I am able, and as much as God gives me strength.
Because God told me to.