I often wonder why some people choose their words carefully and others just let it fly. I have been known to do the later, more than the former, and while I wish I could say that being vocal and opinionated about a myriad of topics was something that people appreciated or respected me for that is often not the case.
Last night I watched the returns online, wall to wall live coverage from all the major networks, and even the minor ones. The person I voted for won. I was happy about that, it seemed he had quite a convincing win. I don’t blindly vote. I don’t think anyone should, there are candidates and issues that are not as simple as many would have us believe, to vote a strait party ticket out of loyalty makes zero sense, checking your brain at the door because you have declared a party, or because someone who you respect has told you what you should or shouldn’t do when you stand in the voting booth is irresponsible.
So my guy won for president, I voted for the person I thought would do the best job and lined up with the majority of my views on many things. Notice I said the majority of my views. There are some things that I philosophically disagree with, there are things that I also disagree with on a spiritual or moral level as well, which brings me to the title of this blog.
Hebrews 12:1 – 2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
There were two issues in the state of Maryland that as a right leaning liberal I could not in good conscious vote for.
Let me say that what a person chooses to do is their own business, I do not think I have a right to tell someone who they can and can’t be with. I don’t believe I can walk into someone’s home and ask them to see their bank statements and tell them what they can spend their money on. Those things are a personal choice, and just like the choices that I make they come with their own sets of consequences, and the person or persons will have to live with the final outcome.
In Hebrews Paul talks bout the sin that so easily trips us up. I believe that every human in the world has a sin that they struggle with. A sin that they will almost always fall too. For some that sin is lust, for some gluttony, gossip is a huge one, or hate, idolatry, lying, stirring up trouble, homosexuality, adultery, stealing. All of these and more are mentioned throughout scripture. I don’t argue with what the Bible calls sin. I don’t try and find ways in the Bible to make some sins okay and others really really bad. God doesn’t do that either if I read things correctly. Christians are the ones that assign degrees to sin, they are the ones that seem to find some sins to be “acceptable” and others to be damning. Reading scripture all these years I have only found one sin that God has said is forever damning, that will separate humanity from God for eternity. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. That’s it all the other sins no matter how offensive they are to me personally God is not only willing and able but desirous to forgive. It’s not my job to judge the world, it’s not my job to tell people what they can and can’t do, who they can and can’t be with, what they can’t and can’t spend, at least not the people in the world who have no clue about who God is, who have never made a connection to Jesus, who have never chosen to take up their cross and follow Him. It’s my job to love them, to show them what forgiveness is, to help them to see that God loves them as is, with no stipulations, and no pre-requisites.
I am a big Nirvana fan, I love the song Come as You Are, it is perhaps one of the best altar call songs ever written. That’s what God wants for humanity, come as you are. With all your issues, all your problems, all your sins, all your talents, all your abilities. Come to me if you are tired, if you are sick of laying in bed at night feeling empty, of sitting in Star Bucks staring into your third cup of coffee feeling alone, and scared. come with your need for the feeling you get when the drugs first hit your system, come with your anger and bitterness and hatred for whoever you feel those things for. Come with your need to be loved, come with your need to be humbled. Come with the guilt that is there because of something that you did or that happened 10,20,50, 80 years ago or just five minutes ago. Come just the way you are without any hope of getting it right, because lets be honest. Humanity has no real hope of getting it right. While we were built for relationship with God, we screwed it up right out of the gate.
When asked by religious leaders if the Jewish people should pay taxes, Jesus didn’t say no, he didn’t say look for loopholes to get out of it, he didn’t even say we should ask to pay less. He did something that flies in the face of many right wing “evangelical” republicans, He took a coin and asked who’s picture was on it, then he said to give the person that had the picture on the coin what belonged to him and give to God what belonged to God. I don’t think this just had to do with taxes, I think that there was more to it.
Jesus wants us to worry about things that will make a difference in eternity, to be salt and light, to go into all the world, to explain to people that God so loved that He gave. He did not want us to sit in judgment of the world. Here’s the big issue though, while we are not supposed to judge or condemn the world and those that have not chosen a relationship with Christ, we are told that when it comes to others who claim to be Christ Followers, we will know them by the fruit that they bear, we can look at a person who claims Christ as their Lord and Savior and we can judge the actions.
So here goes, For the record, I personally believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. I believe that this is a distinction that God has put in place…however I also believe that a person who has not made a commitment to Christ can’t be told who they can live with or be civilly united with. I think that a couple that has lived together all their lives, be they gay or strait should be able to have the same retirement benefits, the same healthcare benefits, and the same social security benefits that my wife and I enjoy. This doesn’t mean that they should have the stamp of marriage, but this is my personal opinion. I can’t tell a person who to love or who to live with, nor would I attempt to but neither can they tell me over and over again that my personal beliefs don’t matter, are antiquated, or should be re-thought in light of a more holistic enlightened world view. Freedom of speech, religion and thought goes both ways.
For the record, I don’t think that there should be expanded gaming in MD, not because I have an issue with someone going to gamble, go gamble if you want to, go gamble at any one of the casinos that are in Maryland, or anywhere else, however why do we always need more ways to separate people that can’t afford it from their money in the name of education, or jobs. If you want to gamble go for it, but don’t keep building more because you want higher profits, because you can keep people entranced, or because you feel that this is the only way to bring jobs.
For the Record. I know that this blog post is going to bother people on both sides of my friend list, my liberal friends are going to be upset because I have said I personally believe that homosexuality is a sin, but I also personally believe that lying is a sin, that stealing is a sin, the list goes on. I’m don’t stop being friends with a person that lies or that has stolen, or that has issues with lust, I don’t stop loving them or hanging out with them. I don’t stop respecting them or suddenly become terrified of them, I simply pray for them and try to live my walk with Christ in such a way that they will wonder what makes me different. My conservative friends are going to be upset because I think that civil unions are fine and that couples should be extended benefits, my liberal friends are going to say that expanded gaming will bring jobs, my conservative friends are going to be upset because I said that if people want to gamble go for it. I never said my positions were easy, but they are my positions.
The bottom line is this, as a Christ follower it is my job to to go and make, not to sit and judge. Walking up to my friends who happen to be gay and telling them off or trying to beat the Bible into them won’t make a difference. Marching into a Casino and standing up on the craps table with Bible in hand shouting about the evil inherent in gambling will not make one person suddenly drop their chips into the offering plate and walk away. It will most likely make them look at me with the same look I give to the TV or Radio when I hear Pat Robertson, or Jerry Falwell or John Hagee open their mouth. Please stop embarrassing yourself and the people you claim to represent.
For the Record I pray that when I stand in front of my creator he can look at all of what Aaron was and all of who Aaron is and smile, and say in spite of all the times you got in the way, we have done well…