I have seen the posts. I have heard the arguments. Watched the videos of Pastors talk about the “sins of the Bible.” I watched people in the LGBT community cringe as the belief in Christ and the belief in the right to live freely collide. I’ve done the “church thing.” I did not grow up as a Christian. I always “believed” there was a God. But I never did “religion.” That was, until I sat across from the White House on September 11, 2001. I remember sitting in my car waiting for the fourth plane that would surely be my demise. I remember praying to a God I had never talked to before; begging him to spare my life so that I could see my children again, with tears running down my face.
That Wednesday, I found myself (and the boyfriend I was living with) sitting in my mother’s church crying uncontrollably. That Sunday, he and I made the walk to the altar and became “saved Christians.” Two months later, we decided to marry as to “stop living together in sin.” I can thank God for that miracle, for real. I was in church every time the door opened. I joined the choir, became the assistant director for the children’s choir, joined the dance ministry, and immersed myself in church culture and good works.
Eleven years and two churches later, I found myself in a situation where I began questioning, not my faith, rather those around me in the church. I walked away from my last church where I was the founder and director of the children’s choir. It seemed that my name had been put on a church “hit list” of some sort. The same people who preached about “love, kindness, non-judgment, and tolerance” had somehow felt that did not apply to me. The “clique” of the church had made me a victim and opened my eyes. My assistant director, the president, the first lady, and even the pastor had stabbed me in the back, then cut my throat when I turned around to question why? Before I found myself disrespecting God’s house and “laying hands” on someone, I walked away and never looked back.
Since 2012, I thought about how it has been so easy for Christians to sit in “sin” within God’s house while looking down their noses at those on the outside who “sin” differently from them. I’ve had every scripture in the book thrown in my direction as to explain to me why their “sin” is somehow different and excusable in God’s sight. Now, I understand that this may be a hard read for those who do not believe a god even exists. Most of what I am saying as a “believer,” an “unbeliever” will chuckle at. But stay with me here. I do not engage in “religious debates”: whether a person believes or not and why. I strongly believe that everyone has the right to believe what motivates them in life. Faith for most serves as a “moral compass” of sorts, guiding an individual to live the best life they can. This, however, has become the issue that I have with the Christian faith at this point.
Do You Use Religion to Guide Your Life? Or Others’ Lives?
If I say, “I don’t believe God approves of homosexuality.” Should that belief guide my life only? Or should it now be a rule for you as well? If I believe that homosexuality is a “sin,” the answer is simple: I don’t engage in homosexual activities. This prevents “my soul” from being at risk of disappointing the God I wish to please, based on my faith. As I sat in the comfort of my home office last week, watching the horrible labels placed on homosexuals by Kim Burrell in her now viral sermon, and the backlash that resulted from it, I began wondering where the line is to be drawn? When does your faith become enslavement for others who don’t believe as you?
The mere fact that Mrs. Burrell said in her sermon “Yeah I know there are other sins, but that spirit of homosexuality is a stain on the church,” tells me that Houston, we have a problem. That statement alone sent me into a frenzy. I began revisiting all the scriptures that discuss the numerous “sins” that God despises or laws that he forbade his followers to engage in. Here are just a few I stumbled upon:
- Leviticus 19:27 – “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” (Men with “fades” may be in trouble.)
- 1 Corinthians 11:6 – “For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.” (If you ladies don’t cover your hair, you must cut it. But that makes you a disgrace.)
- Leviticus 11:12 – “Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.” (Red Lobster lovers, this is bad news.)
- Deuteronomy 14:18 – “The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.” (No more ham for you after Easter service or bacon for breakfast.)
- 1 Corinthians 14-34 – “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” (Kim Burrell???)
- Deuteronomy 22:11 – “You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together.” (No more polyester or wool sweaters with linen pants shall you wear.)
I could go on and on, but I surely don’t want to bore anyone with a mound of scriptures. All the laws of the Bible above are things Christians break every day (i.e., living in sin). I could also talk about the pastor who cheats on his wife (adultery). I could speak on the Christian who eats more food than the body requires to satisfy hunger (gluttony; after all, no one can eat just one Pringle). Perhaps we should address the Christian who dips into the petty cash jar every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in the hopes of becoming a millionaire. They will play the Pick 3 and 4, Keno and on a good day, venture down to the local casino; praying that God “blesses their finances” because surely, they will give their 10% “tithe” to the church and a healthy offering (Gambling). I could speak on how the church embraces singles sleeping and living with each other or the unwed mothers in the church (Fornication). From experience, I know the members of the church love a good “after service gossip session” only to smile in the face of their victim at Bible study on Wednesday (Backbiting).
I have listed these things not to tear anyone down for their lifestyle choices, rather I wanted to expose and hopefully change the thought process of some modern Christians. You see, some Christians have convinced themselves and their followers that homosexuality is the “chief sin,” a sin that is not only unacceptable but somehow unforgivable. They have convinced themselves that homosexuals are “living in sin,” yet the sins they live in daily will be snubbed by God as “minor infractions” and the gates of Heaven will open wide for them on Judgment Day. If a Christian holds the Bible as the unadulterated truth that all must live by, then the entire book must be accepted. One cannot merely “pick and choose” which sins to persecute others for.
Christians must be mindful that not all people believe in God, or Christ for that matter. That they should not expect “unbelievers” to abide by outdated laws that were created during a completely different time. Laws that I venture to say, we (they) would break if we attempted to live by today. Christians should also remember what Christ taught: Love and tolerance. Christ hung out with the prostitute, the tax collector, the poor, the downtrodden. These are the people he loved and sought to save. It was the Pharisees, the “Torah thumpers” that Christ condemned. Christ made it very clear, a believer’s job is to love and let God handle the rest. If I were a prostitute on the street selling my body and my soul, would a Christian say to me “Come off the street tonight, let me feed you, come to church with me, no pressure”? Or would they come to me and say “You’re a slut, a whore, if you don’t change, you’re going to hell”? Can a Christian really invoke change in a person or bring them to Christ by degrading them? Is that “What Jesus Would Do?” So now, here is the real issue; it is not merely the hypocrisy I’ve pointed out or the fact that Christians seem to think the Earth that God created revolves around them and not the sun (or Him). It is now bullying.
When Religion Crosses the Line and Becomes Bullying
When the rubber of religion meets the road of life, I am not concerned about “faith and beliefs.” I am concerned about the welfare of people on Earth, right now. This is where my personal crossroads have come into play. I ask myself, “How do you balance your faith with human rights?” Approximately 4,400 children, youth, and young adults commit suicide in this country every year. Out of this number, 30% of these suicides are gay and lesbian teens, who are two to three times more likely to commit suicide due to bullying directly linked to their sexuality.
As an anti-bullying advocate, I find myself at a crossroads with my mission to help youth and exercising my faith. How can I look at an LGBT youth or a child who may be going through a sexual identity crisis in the eyes and tell them that “they are worthy of love, acceptance, and a good life,” while condoning a faith filled with people who believe it is acceptable to call them “perverts” or “deviants” or a “stain on society”? The reality is, I can’t. There is no real difference between the schoolyard bully calling an LGBT classmate a “faggot” or implying that something is “wrong with them,” than the Christian who calls them “perverted.” The only difference is one is possibly a “mean-spirited” child; the other is a “mean-spirited” adult hiding behind the religious text and God. At least the mean-spirited child can be taught to respect others’ differences. With a Christian steeped in their Bible, “God said,” cannot be challenged by the “inconvenience” of human decency.
Christians love the parables Jesus used to convey his message, so I’ll end with one of my own. In the spring, the season of renewal, we do the ritual of “spring cleaning.” We wipe down walls, clean windows, dust blinds, mop floors, clean carpets, and “remove junk” that has no purpose. We usually start on the “inside” of our home before venturing “outside” to plant flowers, lay mulch, and trim bushes. After all, how many homes have you seen with immaculate landscaping but an inside that has been rejected? In physiology, the body must be cared for from the inside out. Everything that we put in our body eventually reflects on the outside. Too much fatty foods and acidic beverages can wreak havoc on our skin and waistline. So thus, we “remove junk” that harms our insides. The church must do some “spring cleaning” and “junk removal” on the inside before venturing to “pull the weeds” from the outside. If you say the Bible is the truth, you as a collective will live by each standard within it. Until your “insides” are renewed and “clean,” you can not renew or clean another, let alone “save a soul.” And even then, people still have the right to reject your faith, your message, and choose their own path. God created that way, right? If we had no choice, we would all be dead by now.
As an individual who has used the Christian faith to better my life, MY LIFE, I say to the Christian masses; if this religion causes you to use hate speech against another religion, race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, you need to reflect and pray. You need to ask yourself, “What Would Jesus Do?” Right now, I can only imagine Christ shaking his head in disgust at the hypocrisy and lack of love shown by those who claim him, using his own words to commit the very judgment he taught against.