Alright, this column is likely to offend people on both sides of this aisle, so it’s important that you stay with me, and read the entire piece for contextual propriety. Okay? Okay.
Firstly, I drink sometimes, I swear sometimes and I’m impatient. Throughout my life, I’ve made mistakes emotionally, spiritually, physically, sexually, financially and then some. I’m a sinner. Okay? Okay.
I don’t have a problem with someone calling me on my sin either. Be it my wife, my father or my close circle of friends. All of these people have permission to judge me, to bring my weaknesses to my attention and to help me grow into a semi-decent person (hopefully). Okay? Okay.
Now along those lines, I get why the world hates “religious” people. Well all know one or two (or ten) of these types: the pew-sitters who spend more time writing angry letters than really helping their fellow man or advancing the kingdom of God. I had to deal with someone like this recently; a girl from my former church wrote a formal letter of complaint to my previous church. Her accusation? That I was posting pornography on LwC. The story in question? This one. The “questionable” image is below.
Yes, in commentating about a legal, public protest in Manhattan’s Bryant Park, I took the liberty of blurring out nipples (a courtesy not found on other sites) in order to address the absurdity of topless neo-feminism. I won’t bore you with the details (you can go read the article), but the general conclusion was this: showing your breasts won’t stop men from sexualizing you. Men like bewbs. A lot.
Rather than read the article, the “offended” Christian decided to write a letter, to a church I no longer attend, a church that has zero involvement with this site, simply because I performed on their stage once, several years ago, as an independent comedian. Absurd? Yes. Also, entirely expected. So trust me, nobody is more frustrated with the “church folk” than I am.
But these annoying people – who are generally the exception to the rule – have been used as a catalyst for an even more corrosive, progressive “Christianity.” One that white-washes both the faith and Christ himself. A glorified self-help book where all lifestyles, choices and sins are to be accepted without discernment. Jesus has been turned into a glorified Jack Lalanne, whose only interest is to make sure that you feel good about yourself, and comfortable walking through the doors of your church. Each and every time. Because love. And warm and fuzzy feelings.
Everyone is sick of the piety and hypocrisy of the religious right. Everyone. So much so that some theologically vapid pastors (or some might say hucksters), have used the opportunity to peddle a new, false brand of “Christianity”. One where nearly all sin is acceptable… except for the ultimate sin of “judging.” Gasp!
I travel a lot, so I get to see many different churches, and this weekend was no exception. The pastor at the church I visited was skilled. He had the cadence down pat. He made people feel good about themselves. He talked about reaching beyond the walls of the church, extending outside the echo chamber. At this point, I’m onboard. Amen, brother. But then he attacked the “judgmental” church members who “pick and choose sins that are acceptable and unacceptable.” The ones who “exclude on sexual orientation, or theological differences.” The ones who “really only tithe because they think it’s required of them from God.” As opposed to most who don’t tithe. At all. He effectively attacked anybody who could have any hope of growing into the backbone of the church. Smart move there, champ.
The pastor praised people who “felt lost” or “felt rejected” and instructed them to “pay no attention to the people who want to point the finger.” Why? “Because God loves you just the way you are.” Eeeeh kinda.
Now none of those things on their own are inherently wrong. People who are lost should feel welcomed into the church. Instead of members “pointing the finger” the congregation should absolutely help the lost find their way. Of course. But see, none of those things can be done without judgment. Without standards. And of course God loves you for what you are, but not necessarily “just the way you are.” Because frankly, most of us aren’t all that great in our natural state.
It’s one thing to feel lost, to feel rejected and to seek the church for refuge. That’s why it’s there. It’s another thing to demand that the refuge accept your lostness, accept your sinful choices and effectively… cease to be a refuge for anyone else looking for betterment.
An example: think of a soup-kitchen. A homeless man comes in. He’s starving. He needs food. You pat him on the back and listen to his story. You tell him that you’re sympathetic to his plight, and that you’re there to help. You lock hands and pray with him, you tell him what a wonderful person he is, that jee-wiz he’s a swell guy! Maybe you even speak a little Christianese… but you never give him soup. You never give him a meal.
You’re not helping that man. His needs have not been met. And that’s become the modern “Christian” church.
The ultimate irony is that in trying to struggle against the “mainstream religious types,” young Christians have formed a new “mainstream” which rejects any discernment and/or judgment from its members. Everyone is welcome, but ultimately, nobody gets fed.
So this pastor on Sunday, he was on a roll. Condemning those who practice religion for religion’s sake, those who take pride in being more active than the next member, those who gossip about other’s sinful mistakes. He was right to do so. But then he went on, of course, to tar-and-feather all Conservative Christians, “twisting Jesus’ message for politics” and their “ugly rejection of all non-believers.”
Here’s the deal: yes, the “religious” types who are pew-sitting fakers deserve to be made uncomfortable. They bother me as much as the next guy. But they can’t be the only ones in the church to be made uncomfortable. They cannot be the only members who are judged.
The pro-abortion, gay social worker who’s living with his boyfriend, he needs to be made to be uncomfortable too. Because just like Christ, Christians need to welcome everyone into the church, to reach everyone they can, but ultimately make those people uncomfortable with their sin. And then help them confront it. Because while all of us are sinners, we still have to confront our sins and do our best to reject them.
In trying to make everyone feel welcome, in trying to be accepting of not only people’s flaws, but their sinful choices, the modern “Christian” is sentencing people to hopelessness, not salvation.
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
But you know… best to just make everyone “comfortable” for the time being.