I don’t generally share much about my personal beliefs or my testimony. It makes me squeamish to open myself up to that scrutiny and I have no interest in that kind of debate. And, this is blog is more to do with our family and adoption. However, this is something I’ve been carefully thinking about and trying to find a way to share for years now. As a disclaimer, this is a post about my faith and is directed at other followers of Jesus.
I graduated from the university near where we live now, but before that, I went to a small private liberal college for women in a very liberal town in the Northeast United States. I was very young, my views on the world still developing, but up until that point, if you were to survey my beliefs, I would have ended up somewhere on the moderate side of liberal. My family didn’t regularly attend church growing up, but I was certainly somewhat familiar with the bible and Christians. I knew a few decent Christians, but for the most part, I thought followers of Jesus were quick to throw the laws at you. Quick to remind you exactly why you would be burning in hell. And even if they didn’t say it, they were certainly thinking it. Especially quick to condemn gay people. Yes, there were more liberal denominations, more liberal Christians, but from what I’d heard from the most vocal Christians in my life, they weren’t even following their own bible. The bible said that homosexuality was a sin so those liberal Christians might be even worse. Watering down their own faith to make it fit in America.
At college, I met a ton of cool people. People who identify as lesbian, gay, transexual. People born with female anatomy, but who use the men’s bathroom. Beautiful people, who came to this college because they were welcome, free from judgement. People who cared about social injustice. People who volunteered their time to help others. It seemed to me like those people cared a lot more about those who Christians would call “the least of these” than Christians did. The Christians were a bit too busy smacking people over the head with their book full of laws and finding the the verse which would send you to those eternal flames.
I ended up leaving that college. A straight girl who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life and wasn’t too interested in the tight knit college atmosphere, I just didn’t fit in. Not because of my beliefs, but I just couldn’t find my place in a sea of women.
That was when I joined AmeriCorps. That was when I met my husband. He fascinated me. Not in a lustful way, but with genuine curiosity. The first thing I learned was that he had spent 7 months in New Orleans, volunteering full time to help with disaster relief after Katrina and now he was committed another year of his life to serving. I had spent several weeks in New Orleans, not even close to his length stay, but we had this in common. We both loved the hands-on helping and serving others that we found in NOLA.
But, there was another thing that possibly fascinated me even more. He was a Christian. I would find him praying or reading his bible and while he didn’t engage us in his faith, he’d talk about it when asked. One person on our AmeriCorps team was particularly fond of debated, so he’d engage Aaron. Aaron would disagree firmly, but not in a way that felt imposing or close-minded. Even though I agreed with the other guy on most things, Aaron always approached things with reason and without being inflammatory. That earned him my respect.
Aaron told me his beliefs. He explained why he believed the bible was truth, what he believed it said and how he lived that out. I told him how I didn’t think I could be a Christian, because I couldn’t love a God who condemns people to hell just for being gay. He listened. He never compromised his beliefs, but he always considered my point of view. This was such a strange experience for me. We could disagree on everything that mattered to us and still talk about it and enjoy our time together.
For the first time, I had a genuine curiosity about God and the bible, not because of what anyone had told me it said, but because of who my now-husband was. That was what led me to Christ.
Since then, I’ve learned about grace, how who Jesus died for on the cross, and what the bible says and how biased individuals use different translations to prove their point on any number of issues.
I didn’t write this post to share my own political beliefs. I’m actually not going to– sorry, as I’m sure that’s what some of you were waiting for. I wrote this because I’ve seen the harm it causes when Christians lead with condemnation. When it takes the form of a Facebook profile picture, or a political rally, or a causally written blog post. When the lead isn’t that Jesus loves us and died for all of us, but that marriage is threatened by gay people. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely a time and a place to share even controversial beliefs and it doesn’t serve anyone to water down or edit our faith to suit everyone. But, when you casually share in a public setting, remember that that is the first thing that what you are sharing is the first and perhaps the only thing that people will know about you and Christ in you.
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6