Monday, June 14, 2010

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

I hear a lot of religious people use the quote “Love the sinner, hate the sin” when referring to homosexuality. Did you know that this phrase was not coined by any Christian? It is not found in the Bible, or any book used by the LDS church. It was Mahatma Gandhi who actually coined the phrase – but it has been adopted as the Christian homosexuality theme.

A while ago, someone who I consider an “online friend” commented on a Salt Lake Tribune story that was related to homosexuality in the LDS church. She stated the following:

“To 'love the sinner and hate the sin' is a clever use of misdirection. It allows the speaker to judge others while calling himself/herself virtuous.”


This got me thinking a lot about a phrase I myself have championed in the past. I wondered what it might look like if someone really did love the sinner, while hating the sin.

If I turn to examples of Christ in the scriptures, I can think of three in particular where this catch-phrase could apply. The first is the woman caught in adultery; a common example throw into the face of homosexuals by anti-homosexuality Christians as an illustration as to how they think God would treat us. The second is the thief on the cross. The third is the man who lacked faith that Christ could heal his child – a story that coined a catch-phrase of its own: “Help thou my unbelief.”

I don’t think anyone would deny that Christ loved these three people. He defended the woman caught in adultery, proving to all her accusers that her sins were no worse than their own. I would imagine such a touching display from a man such as Jesus would change her life in unexpected and profound ways. Christ’s admonition to “Go and sin no more” came with no threats or condemnation, even though he, himself, as a perfect man – and I think a lot of people think that is the most important part of the story.

I disagree.

While studying this story while a missionary and after, I was always impressed by the fact that Christ writes on the ground just after the woman’s accusers ask him what should be done to her. Studying this one specific point of the story led me to only one small piece of information – that writing as such was a way in which Christ was showing distain or disrespect for the accusers… sort of a Jewish way of blatantly ignoring someone. I believe it is the words that follow that are the point of the story – “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I do not believe it is possible for imperfect, sinful people to love the sinner while hating the sin. To find out why, we need to go to the next story.

On the cross, a thief looks to Christ and says “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Christ’s response was, “Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise.”
There is much speculation as to what Christ meant by “paradise.” Did he mean heaven, or just the paradise that is in the spirit world? Either way, Christ was able to look past the faults of this man to recognize his faith in the atonement. Christians literally believe that the thief’s petition in faith alone saved him.

Is it easy for us to love this thief while hating his sins because Christ had already forgiven him? What about the other man being crucified with Christ? Do we love him the same, regardless of what he did to earn his spot on the cross?


In my final example, we have a man without faith, who petitions Christ on behalf of his child. Does Christ sometimes reward someone’s faith before even they, themselves have it? Do Christian people love this faithless man in light of and, perhaps because of, his sins?


I very rarely see such love in today’s Christian world when it comes to the subject of homosexuality. Many of those who profess such love show exactly the opposite by their actions.


If you believe homosexual behavior is a sin…


You cannot love a homosexual unless you love those who are celibate, those who marry members of the opposite sex, and those who are in homosexual relationships alike.

You cannot love a homosexual if you are so preoccupied with the “sin of homosexuality” that you overlook the fact that the person is a child of God.

You cannot love a homosexual if you condemn them to Hell, judging a group without taking an individual account of its members.

You cannot love a homosexual if you kick them out of your churches and drive them away from Christ.

You cannot love a homosexual if you refuse to understand how they feel, or why they make the choices they do.

You cannot love a homosexual if you compare them to people who victimize children, adults, or animals.

You cannot love a homosexual if you compare them to people who commit crimes.

You cannot love a homosexual if you are so polarized over the issue that the subject of homosexuality is taboo.

You cannot love a homosexual if you believe homosexuals are the ones defining themselves solely on their sexual behavior.

You cannot love a homosexual if you remain silent while fear and mistrust is seeded, and lies regarding homosexuality are forwarded and encouraged.

You cannot love a homosexual if you believe salvation is contingent upon the impossible change of attractions.

You cannot love a homosexual if you do not understand why the word “impossible” was in the last sentence.

You cannot love a homosexual if you do not realize that Christ alone can effect change, and realize that there as simply times where change is not in his plan.

You cannot love a homosexual until you are willing to invite one who is promiscuous, drug and alcohol addicted, unbelieving, feminine, and well-dressed, to sit next to you in a worship service.

You cannot love a homosexual until you have a prayer in your heart that the spirit of Christ will touch him or her, and are willing to accept that when that spirit of Christ does, it will confirm to him or her that they are the way God created them.

You cannot love a homosexual until you are willing to watch destructive behaviors be erased by the love and light of Christ, and willing to accept that when that happens that person will be your equal as a gay Christian.

You cannot love a homosexual until you realize that the atonement of Christ will cover his sins just as they will cover yours, and until you see your own sins as equally deserving of Hell-fire as his.

Then you can start to love a homosexual.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Backwards

Whoa… it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Remember that awesome doctor experience I had, the phsycial I found to be just a little TOO entertaining (if not, let me see if I can remind you: “Blow blow blow!” … or scroll down two posts)? Well, a few days after that I got a call from the doctor, who told me they found a right paratracheal mass on my chest x-ray. At first simply thought “Ok, so what?” but the doctor must have noticed my reluctance to acknowledge what she was trying to tell me, so she eventually said something like this: “No, you don’t understand. If this mass is actually attached to your trachea, there is an 80% chance that this is malignant.”

Ok. Message received.

That night was the dress rehearsal for my local figure skating club’s spring ice show. I missed all of my jumps, and after the club was sure my music would play through on the master CD they had created, I quietly excused myself, pretty much missing all of my students skate. On the way out I asked a friend, “How do you tell the person you love the most that there is an 80% chance you have cancer?” It didn’t take her long to figure out that my question wasn’t rhetorical.

I called my regular doctor and set up an appointment, as the doctor who FOUND the paratracheal mass as just there to clear me for the job I’m applying for. She couldn’t schedule the CT for me. Now my doctor is a pretty cool guy (very gay friendly - I think even gay himself… if anyone wants a referral, ha! But the office is a little scary, and the d├ęcor is stuck in the 1970’s. Still, well worth it), and he spent over an hour with me walking me through all the possibilities (what doctor does that?!). He wasn’t sure he was worried once he saw the chest x-ray, but he also admitted that he wasn’t a radiologist, and suggested we proceed with the recommended CT.

After much worrying, and trying to keep a positive attitude, I scheduled a CT scan (which my great insurance won’t cover. But I figured 2500 dollars was worth it for the peace of mind of knowing).

I had my CT done at Saint Mark’s hospital. I arrived at 7 in the morning, and was the first one in the radiology waiting room. I don’t know if the hospital is very efficient, or if it was because I was the first one there, but they were very very quick at getting me in and out. Now, if you’ve never had the opportunity to be shot up with Iodine, I highly recommend it! As the iodine went through my body I got all warm and tingly – like taking a Tequila shot without the nasty taste – haha.

I’m pretty sure I was glowing that night, after all the radiation those dang machines emit. My doctor doesn’t work Mondays, and I had the CT on a Thursday, so they told me I would have to wait until Tuesday for my results.

Tuesday came and went, with nothing. I called them that night but only got an answering machine.

I called twice on Wedensday, and finally just after 5pm, I got a call from the doctor.

Turns out, I’m just weird. I have what the radiologist at St. Mark’s called a “normal variation.” Turns out my aorta instead of curving to the left, curves to the right and travels down the RIGHT side of my chest.

So feel free to breathe a collective sigh of relief for me. I should have no effects from such a backward heart construction =) . Of course, I’ll probably get some sort of tumor in a few years related to the CT radiation – haha.

Strangely, when I told the people who were as anxiously waiting my results, one, who has a gay brother, mentioned that he too, had this condition.

Which made me wonder if there has ever been a study done linking a right-axis heart to homosexuality. How strange that the organ associated with love would be backward in two homosexual men.

So how about it fellow gays – do any of you happen to know if you have a right-axis heart? Anyone know of a straight man that does? Just curious ;)