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Author Topic: The Love of Christ  (Read 2335 times)

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Offline VuurMeesterTopic starter

The Love of Christ
« on: December 05, 2011, 07:54:04 PM »
Before I start the meat of my opening post, I would like to state some things about my past that could likely help you understand how I came to my position. I'd also like to apologize in advance, this post is chiefly directed at Christians, but it may be worth reading even if you're not.

I am the third child of eight, eldest son. My parents are deeply religious, and have raised me and my siblings in a very orthodox calvinist manner. I was raised to believe that if you weren't elected, you would go to hell. Now for those unfamiliar with the calvinist strains of Christianity, one of the beliefs calvinism is well known for is that your entry into heaven or hell was decided long before you were born.

As I am not attracted solely to women, I do not fit into the view of what one of the Elect was like in the church I grew up in. I couldn't tell my parents, I couldn't tell my friends, I couldn't even tell my teachers or my doctor. Everyone I had close ties to was carefully selected, or perhaps elected, by my parents to share their world view.

At my eighteenth birthday, I packed up my goods and left the house. I still haven't spoken to my parents since that day. They know why. I send them christmas cards every year. If my phone number or address changes, I inform them. Because I still love my parents, no matter how much they loathe me.

Due to how I was raised, I strayed from the path of christianity. I grew bitter and resentful of religion. Until, one day, at a gathering of young adult socialists, I met a few christians. We started to talk. I was touched. They knew about my sexuality, and told me why they didn't feel the need to lecture me on it.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. (Mt. 7:1)

This made me think. They gave me a Bible. I started to flip through it. Particularly the new testament, as they recommended me. During my childhood, most of my studies were focused on Paul and the Old Testament.

And I realized that the message of Christianity was one of brotherhood. Of unconditional love in the nonromantic sense. This is more involved than it may seem, and it certainly is no easy task. Another part of the scripture makes this even clearer.

This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. (Jn. 15:12)

In other words, you have to love others as Jesus loves us. And that is a deep, unconditional love. He loved everyone, and forgave everyone for their sins. As such, it is not a Christian's duty to judge and condemn, but to love and forgive.

Not necessarily forget. Nor does it mean that we can't call it out. But we have to forgive it. After we have called it out, told our friend, our enemy, or even a complete stranger, what they did wrong? We have to forgive them, we have to move on.

This is not a quote from the scripture, but it describes very well what it is like to forgive.

When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it. (Louis B. Smedes)

But it is important to remember that as shocked, stunned and enraged as we may be by evil, it is a Christian's task to forgive. That does not mean we can't prepare for them to disappoint us again. Nor does it mean we have to blindly trust. At some point, it may be necessary to stop handing out new chances, as much as we would love to give them. But we should not judge. We should forgive.

Judging others is a kind of risky hubris that not only is against scripture, but is also what gives Christianity a bad name to people who do not follow in Christ's footsteps. Judging others does not provide them with faith. Preaching at them does not provide them with faith.

A Christian should lead by the example of serving the world. He (or she) should do his very best to love everyone. not to turn anyone away who asks for advice. Do his (or her) best to improve the world. If you don't have time, donate to charity. If you don't have money, try to donate your time.

Every Christian has a way to serve the world, it may not be obvious. It is likely not easy. But it's there, and if you ask God for guidance, you should be able to discover what talents God intends you to serve the world with.

I hope, I sincerely hope, that this was educating to at least someone out there.

I look forward to your responses.

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2011, 09:30:49 PM »
I am not personally Christian - I found a different Path many years ago after being raised Roman Catholic.  Mr. Oniya was raised Jewish but is likewise traveling a different spiritual direction.  A common thing that both of us have said about the Bible is to 'make sure you read the red words' (referring to a common typographical conceit of putting the lines attributed to Christ in red ink to make them easier to find).  It seems like the folks you've fallen in with have the same idea.  :-)

Offline Capone

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Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 10:23:51 PM »
This post was very encouraging.

I've found that I can't quite fit with my fellow Christian friends. It only really dawned on me after telling one story in particular and getting the same reaction.

Every year I go into Philly to celebrate New Years with some friends. Well, my first year there, I remember being in a room with about a dozen other men, just listening to the discussion. After listening for fifteen minutes I realized I was the only straight man in a room full of Christian gay men. I found it an amusing moment of my life, to be so oblivious for so long. But I also found it to be an inspirational moment! There were a dozen gay men that were all Christian! They didn't hate God simply because the rest of the world is a bunch of assholes!

Most of my non-Christian friends find the story amusing, and while their thoughts aren't quite the same as mine, they at least find it nice that these men found a way to have faith while feeling welcome and accepted.

Then my Christian friends say "How is that even possible?!", and often with a sneer of derision.

And that hurts me. It hurts me because they're not happy to find out that twelve men can love God despite other so-called believers claiming that they're going to Hell. It hurt me that they had such a response without even pausing to take a breath. It just hurt me because it was so consistent amongst a number of them at different unrelated times that I told the story.

I don't know when homosexuality was labeled a sin so bad that, to Christians at least, it's unforgivable. It really makes you wonder if they understand just what Jesus was doing sitting down with prostitutes and tax collectors and lepers, and speaking with them as if they were no different than any other man.

Pro-tip: It's because they weren't.

Offline VuurMeesterTopic starter

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2011, 10:33:25 PM »
Then my Christian friends say "How is that even possible?!", and often with a sneer of derision.

This is exactly the kind of Christian I feel needs to reread the so called red words. Not only does that behavior drive people away from their faith, it gives all of us a bad name.

And that is exactly why Jesus told us not to judge, because it makes Christians look condescending and judgmental, while we should be loving and forgiving.

PS: I'm glad you found my post encouraging.

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2011, 10:43:23 PM »
I don't know when homosexuality was labeled a sin so bad that, to Christians at least, it's unforgivable.

It's all Old Testament stuff (ironically enough, since those are 'pre-Christ') - and a lot of the bits that make the least sense in today's society were geared towards maintaining the health and population of a smallish, nomadic tribe.  Male homosexuality = a couple that can't produce kids.  If you look at it from that viewpoint, a lot of the stranger dietary and sex-related laws make more sense.

I've done quite a bit of poking around various religious texts, and one thing that most of them seem to have in common is 'be nice to each other, and live a good life, and you'll have a hope of something better in the here-after.'  If only more people would remember that.

Offline VuurMeesterTopic starter

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2011, 10:46:23 PM »
There is one quote of Paul often translated as condemning homosexuality, but the word he uses there (in the source text) refers to a very specific kind of male/male pairing.

The pairing between a prepubescent boy and full grown man, a thing that was very common in the greek societies of the era.

Offline Serephino

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2011, 02:13:01 AM »
It seems to me that Christianity has become very warped.  I once knew a woman who claimed to be a devoted Christian, but bad mouthed her lesbian neighbor, and prayed to God to smite her enemies, but of course she was a very positive, friendly person.... ::)

I see it everywhere.  It's like Christians are spoon fed some kind of superiority complex.  I know it's human to judge, but some people take it to a whole new level.  I know not all Christians are like that.  There are intelligent ones like yourself, and I find it refreshing.  Then there are those like the people who think Harry Potter is Satanic that the world would be better without.

I'm glad you were able to regain your faith.  Many people do not.  Parents like yours tend to raise Satanists and Pagans who hate Christianity with a passion.   

Offline Wajin

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2011, 08:21:41 AM »
As per request from my grandfather, I was raised as a muslim, and then at 13 given the choice whether I wanted to continue on the path of Islam or choose something else.

I knew back then that my grandfather deeply wanted me to stay Muslim as he enjoyed taking me to the mosque, and loved that I even from a young age could quote the Quran better than most of the grown men in our local mosque. I remember at a very young age being talked about by our Imam as among the brightest young boys he had ever seen.

Well, on my 13th birthday I went to the mosque to talk to the Imam about what to do, and I literally broke down in tears, I was really conflicted. I wanted to continue to go to the mosque with my grandfather, but at the same time I wanted to go to the Buddhist temple with my father, as I found Buddhism to fit my way of thinking better. He just smiled and told me that I could come when ever I wanted, and that it would be our little secret that I wasn't Muslim anymore.

So now I practice Buddhism and Islam... which I find to be very pleasant actually

Offline Zakharra

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2011, 08:46:37 AM »
 You sound like you have a very understanding Imam. Which might be unusual since from what I've heard, anyone that turns away from Islam is supposed to be killed.

 On the topic, it sounds like you found some actual true Christians. Unlike the posers that cherry pick what they want to believe (Old Testament) and ignore what Christ would actually do with people (hug them, not hit and certainly not shout at someone because they are another race/gender/sexual orientation.).

Offline VuurMeesterTopic starter

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2011, 09:01:26 AM »
Something I just realized, which is mostly on topic, is why the phrase 'Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin' frustrates me so much.

Hate shouldn't be in Christian vernacular. A Christian shouldn't hate, he should love. Even if you do consider sexualities other than heterosexuality a sin (which I don't,) that doesn't mean you get to hate the sin. Christianity isn't about hate.

Perhaps, for those Christians who feel such to be a sin, the phrase should become 'Love the Sinner, Forgive the Sin'

Forgiveness implies disapproval. You don't need to forgive anything you approve of, after all. But forgiveness is so much more than mere disapproval. It's looking at something you disapprove at just long enough to know it's there. After that, you look beyond it. At the person behind the sin.

And only if you do that can you truly Love the Sinner. Hate is no part of Love. It's like saying you're happy while you're really on the verge of bursting in tears. It's fake, and many people can see through this. The same, I feel, is true for those people who address alternate sexualities with 'Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin.'

Offline Silk

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2011, 01:20:38 PM »

I'm glad you were able to regain your faith.  Many people do not.  Parents like yours tend to raise Satanists and Pagans who hate Christianity with a passion.   


Or Atheists that because of the nature of these types of parents make them question the value of religion, no small stretch to understand why there are so many Athiests that actively oppose religion in any form because their experience with religion is like this, its hard to see the good in it.

Offline Envious

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2011, 01:30:05 PM »
I very much enjoyed reading this, and look forward to more responses.

Offline meikle

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2011, 02:49:44 PM »
This is exactly the kind of Christian I feel needs to reread the so called red words. Not only does that behavior drive people away from their faith, it gives all of us a bad name.

I'm taking a course on the New Testament at the moment, and despite myself, I find a lot of the text very moving.  Galatians 3:28 is excellent: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  I don't think you have to be a believer (I'm certainly not) to find the good in a message of staggering equality like this.

More often than not, though, it's the text of the undisputed Pauline epistles that I find worthwhile.  Jesus' message was excellent, of course, but I find Paul's efforts to spread the word even more moving (and I should clarify that I mean the undisputed Pauline epistles rather than the deuteropauline epistles and the Pastoral Epistles which are pretty awful.)
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 02:53:11 PM by meikle »

Offline ColdBloodedJellyDoughnut

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2011, 03:11:38 PM »
My friends and I had a rough kind of bible study group, despite the fact that there was at least one atheist in the group, and me...

I've said many times that I am Christian only because that's what the country I was born in chose to call me. If I was born in another country I might be called something different.

One of the things we got into in the study group of predeterminism. This is something that on of my friends believed in completely. The idea that from the moment someone is born, it's already been written by God whether or not you will go to heaven, and nothing you can do on Earth can change that. It became quite heated, because I got quite teary (embarrasingly) because I said that I didn't like the idea of going to heaven, if none of my family would be there too. And vice versa.

A few weeks later, that same friend and I had a long conversation about our own beliefs. I said that I was Christian in the regards that I believed in God, but I didn't believe in the bible. To her, that was crazy, because she believed that the Bible was written by God.

However, despite our disagreement on the basis of our beliefs, we were still really good friends. That whole group of my friends were really devout, but they accepted my flighty relationship with Him Upstairs. And we had a lot of fun debating it ^^

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2011, 05:05:36 PM »
Well, one can certainly study a religious text without espousing it.

Offline Serephino

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2011, 10:47:08 PM »
I'm a Christian Witch, which many people on both sides think is both nuts and impossible.  It's hard to explain...  I believe in one supreme creator god, but I really don't think he's the narcissistic, temper tantrum throwing, two year old the Bible makes him out to be.  We're all his creations, and just like people feel a bit of an attachment to something they made that they put a lot of work into, God cares for us, but he doesn't give a crap about what path we walk, what we eat, or who we screw.

I left the church because I did what I was told to do and sought a relationship with God, then found myself surrounded by hypocrisy.  The best example I can come up with happened on another forum Nationstates.  For those that don't know, you have your own nation, and the General Assembly is like a mock UN.  Anyway, the subject of prostitution has come up.  The more religious members railed against a resolution to legalize prostitution.  Um... Mary Magdaline people.....   

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2011, 07:58:04 PM »
Notice distinct lack of flame, hatred, and accusation? this was actually pretty educational and helpful gonna drop to the bottom of the list due to lack of posts though.
*bump*

Offline Wolf369

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2011, 11:04:10 PM »
Glad you found something to give you hope. Seems to be one thing lacking when it comes to many peoples ideas of "religion." Been a rough day, made me smile.

Am a pagan myself but can see a lot of good in many religions, you just have to look for it. Sad thing is though, most people are more comfortable beating others with their choice of books than they are actually reading and understanding it themselves.

If only most so-call Christians would read what the man taught and not what was said about him. (like don't judge, all men are equal so stand up and be counted, treat others how you'd like to be treated...)

Well, you get the idea.

Offline Serephino

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2011, 12:25:54 AM »
*nods*  Those red words in that book are full of a lot of wisdom. 

Offline GardenoftheDead

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2011, 06:21:31 AM »
I'm glad that those of you who are religious are made happy by it.

Let me explain my position, doing my best to not offend anyone:

I've never understood how religion makes people happy. Possibly because belief never made me happy.

I went through the formative years of my life with a vague belief in a nonspecific something and terrified of the friends I had who told me that wasn't enough. There was a specific something I had to believe to be spiritually fulfilled, let alone saved. So, after a few years of that, the pivotal moment in my life happened. Someone gave me a Bible in 6th grade. It was only the New Testament, but I would get to that other one later. I sat down and read it alone, cover to cover, all the way through, in the privacy of my bedroom.

That was the first to step to my realizing I was atheist.

I'm sorry to all who think otherwise, but to me? The Bible is repulsive, as are all the other religious texts I've perused. I've read a great deal of the predominant ones, but none so thoroughly as the Bible I admit. However, I'm comfortable in my belief despite not having examined all the other possibilities because my atheism is no longer something I feel. It's an intellectual decision that I understand.

Later in life I examined the question of god not from the visceral standpoint, but from the intellectual one. This led me to the positive atheist school of thought. "High power" is a concept that to me is not intellectually convincing. The lack of real evidence forces me to reject the concept just by my skeptical nature.

However, I understand that faith is important to people. I would never try to de-convert someone. I know how it feels when someone tries to "save" you. In the end, it's not a decision that should be forced on people, it's one they should come to the way I did. On their own.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 06:23:48 AM by GardenoftheDead »

Online RubySlippers

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2011, 07:54:48 AM »
Assuming as I do he was a good man and taught mostly good things one should then reflect on that, stripped of claims of divinity or miracles but on his teachings as a person of reason would and see that he had nuggets of wisdom. Like the Proverbs have many nuggets of wisdom as well.

Offline Koren

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2011, 07:56:24 AM »
My personal views on religion are views that are deeply conflicted with a number of experiences that I have had, most of them male. These incidence are both from an academic standpoint and also from an emotional one and I am others have suffered a lot of hate at the hands of the religious, not specifically christian but often that.

I myself fit quite firmly into an asexual standpoint. I am quite comfortable with this. I am also extremely socially incompetent and there are certain idiosyncrasies that distance me from people, particularly the religious.

One particular moment stands in my memory of a discussion with a religious girl (who had been with her church for only 8 months, lets remember that detail) who was always quite nice and kind to me, knowing that I had a lot of troubles with bullies at my high school to the point of a severe depression. I started to notice that she started to change quite a bit and quickly found out that she was under the guidance of her spiritual advisor at a local church. First concern I had was the change to her attitude which had her keeping a more exclusive group of friends under his advisement. One day we are sitting at the table, me next to my friend and her and her best friend on the other side of the table and I over hear their conversation.
The girl is going on and on about how God talks to her and sends her messages in her dreams and she has seen his face and it is one of pure rigteousness. Out of respect I made no comment on it but there was a number of other discussions to follow.

The one that MOST stick in my head was when me and my friend (a guy) were messing about and laughing about stuff in class and the girl pipes up and goes "you two make a good couple." After our laughter from the misunderstanding calmed down we explained we were most definitely not a couple. What ensured was a quick scolding about our 'promiscuous' attitude (our laughing and stealing rulers from each other) and how we should be more careful. Long story story it turned into a conversation about women in religion (i'll come back to this later) and I pointed out how come women are not allowed to rise in the order of the church.
The responce I recieved was one of confusion revolving around the statement, "Why would a woman want to lead in the church when you would have to give up the responsiblity to bear a child?" After exlaining carefully that I planned never to have a child, the responce I got was one of disgust, effectively being called 'wrong and unnatural' because of my reluctence to concieve and I would therefore never be let up into heaven. After this incident she stopped speaking with me.

I personally found this appaling. That under guidance a nice and caring young woman could turn so cold and almost heartless with a very... narrow view of things and the world. She is still a nice girl but she is now nice to certain people and almost pities others instead of supporting them. I don't like the way that reliance and acceptance of religion can suddenly change a person into the narrow subset of views a church may hold and that it comletely changes things becuase of a simple belief.
I also do not agree with the way that not only does there appear to be a superior air in some of those who are relgious but that they try to 'drag' others down with them. In my opinion, like a virus.


Going back to the women in religion thing, I myself am a tomboy. I wear pants and never dresses or skirts, boots and not sandles and my long hair is often tied back at the base of the skull and braided like a guy with long hair will do. Even with this though, and being asexual, I am aware and proud that my physical body is female, for I would not be me if it wasn't. As such while not a feminist I do believe in equal rights for women. A major set back in this I believe is religion. So often in religious beliefs women are reduced to mere possesions and simple 'child carriers'. Up until the introduction of christianity women were actually concidered to be powerful and respected, wise and often a dominent figure standing along side men in culture. No longer.
Even the simple wedding ritual has seen this in that the man is asked if he wishes to marry before the woman is even given a choice in the matter which goes back to the old views of women being 'property' in medival times.


I have many more ways I could explain my distaste for religion in men, but those two usually remain as my primary and dominent reasons.
Please understand these are my opinions only and there is a lot more to my history of religion and the regious beside this but I felt I was able to share my view here.


Another incident I suddenly remember was my friends english teacher taking a religious outlook on a book and handing around bibal passages and setting religious based homework for her students on a book that when we spoke with the author was strictly athetist and half her class failed, and as it turns out the teacher was a devout cathlic.

Quick note I also feel that while religion and belief in gods itself is not a negitive thing it is the viral and obsessional view that humans give it that makes it have such a negitive impact on some parts of society.

Online RubySlippers

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2011, 08:16:39 AM »
This is what gets me Jesus had women followers, Mary of Magdala was likely an apostle herself with the high standing she had in the New Testament for her devout faith and dedication I suspect not physical love but it was his apostles that added this into the canon.

I would think if there was a god and this god was just and fair he would have both genders as ministers and priests, and this would reflect how god is in their actions. From what I see its all about money and power with few doing as Jesus did and do good works.

A good freind of mine and a great guy was told by a church since he liked rock music he was not Christian Enough and told to not come back. WTF right? But this church has a perfect sanctuary, big grounds, school and a huge waterfountain and looks awesome but I never found they do anything for those in need or act using this wealth to make the community better. Then there is a small ministry that every couple days fed the homeless in the park, handed out clothes and even had a nurse there to help with medical issues and the city wanted them to stop and they had very little money the minister lived in the church and found out his salary is $1 over the poverty line. He decided if he gets support for his work it should not be over those he serves the $1 added was forced on the by the board as was the salary.

Now which were the real Christians of the two I feel the second one who are a serving ministry to those in need, but that is my opinion.

And yes they have many women some in ministry working there the assistant minister is a woman in fact and one great woman.

Offline Serephino

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2011, 08:22:10 PM »
Kora, I'm sorry you lost a friend to brainwashing.  It has been my experience that desperate and weak minded people are the ones who cling to religion with a death grip like that.  They swallow whatever they are spoon fed dutifully because they want to think they know the truth and have everything figured out.  I've mentioned before I once knew someone like this.  It's sad really.  She had a traumatic child hood, and seriously over-compensated rather than trying to heal.

Who knows what caused your former friend to let herself get sucked in by the fanatics, but there are predators out there of all sorts that will be all too happy to offer these lost souls guidance.



Offline Vekseid

Re: The Love of Christ
« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2011, 11:32:29 PM »
It's all Old Testament stuff (ironically enough, since those are 'pre-Christ') - and a lot of the bits that make the least sense in today's society were geared towards maintaining the health and population of a smallish, nomadic tribe.  Male homosexuality = a couple that can't produce kids.  If you look at it from that viewpoint, a lot of the stranger dietary and sex-related laws make more sense.

Pauline Christianity also condemns it.

Quote from: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, arsenokoitēs, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers, none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God

arsenokoitēs being the original Greek, referring specifically to male homosexuality, though it might be restricted to the same sense that Leviticus has ("If a man lay with another man, as he would a whore.") which is not homosexuality per se but rather banning a specific act of it.  What act is debated, it might refer only to anal sex, which was commonly looked down upon - especially if you were the 'receiver', in that era and region.

This isn't true of the Gnostic Christianity, which had rather... suspicious views regarding men and women.