Posts Tagged ‘bad people’

 I never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed. In fact, on many things I am very slow on the uptake. Just ask my wife. Subtle hints are completely lost on me. I try to tell it plain, and tend to hear it plain, and sometimes forget that not everyone does.

From time to time I have been horribly misunderstood and sat in the wake of someone blowing up at me, calling me “hateful,” “judgmental,” or worse, and I was left wondering what just happened.

Recently, a conversation took a turn towards the “Who are you to judge others and say they’re wrong?” I was taken aback a bit because my language and demeanor was one of explanation and not declaration. At least that’s what I was trying to get across. Unfortunately, what I was saying and what they were hearing were miles apart.

Once I had a couple of youth who stopped coming to Sunday service for a while because of something the pastor said. Something that they completely misheard and misunderstood.

When we hear/read something, we filter it through our own understandings and ideas. It helps when communicating to be aware of the other person’s filters and point of view. When taking in what someone is saying, it helps to be aware of their filters and ideas, …. and our own as well.

One filter that many people have now days is that to disagree or voice disagreement in any way is a form of being judgmental or intolerant. Or, many people also have the filter that Christians ARE judgmental, and so any time a Christian voices disagreement they are automatically seen as being hateful or judgmental.

Here’s the deal. Many times whenever I, or others I have witnessed, expressed some form of “You shouldn’t _____,” it gets heard as “If you _____, you are a despicable, sinful piece of trash!” At least that’s what is implied by the tone and fervor of the response I sometimes get.

But now who’s being judgmental?

If I say, “You shouldn’t drink alcohol,” how do you know my meaning and motive? What variety of meanings could that statement have? Here are just a few off the top of my head.

  1. Is the person being addressed a minor for whom it would be illegal to drink alcohol?
  2. Are you a friend who I know to be prone to addictive behaviors?
  3. Do you have a track record of bad results when you drink and I’m just concerned for you?
  4. Maybe I understand that there’s nothing inherently evil about alcohol, but I have a general experience of nothing worth-while coming from the consumption of alcohol and think it unwise.
  5. Or maybe I think drinking is of the Devil and if you partake of his vile drink you are courting darkness and demonstrating that you possess a wicked and corrupt soul. SINNER!!

Oddly enough, when I say, “You shouldn’t drink alcohol,” because I am a Christian, many people assume number 5.

 However, generally, unless I am quoting a direct “Thou shall not…” from the Bible, when I say, “You shouldn’t ____,” I’m giving an advisement of what I believe to be wise behavior, not a judgment about a person’s moral character.

  •  Don’t listen to this song.
  • Don’t watch that movie.
  • Don’t go to that place.
  • Don’t hang out with those people.
  • Don’t read those magazines.
  • Don’t share those things on social media.
  • Don’t do that thing.
  • Don’t make that choice.
  • Don’t ______.

When I make those sorts of comments, I know that I am no authoritative voice or judge in your life. I do hope to be an influential one, but that is about it. You’re not answerable to me. I have no position, authority or grounds to pass judgment, and my comments, even if I were passing judgment, have no power or control over you.

The statement is not, “If you do X, then you are a bad person.” The statement is, “If you do X, then it will turn out bad for you. I care about you, so please don’t do X.”

Most of the time that I see, read, or hear about Christians being labelled as judgmental, intolerant, hateful, etc. what is really taking place is that they are expressing a compassionate concern and advising the person as to what should or should not be done, with that person’s well being or benefit in mind. Different people communicate this with varying degrees of success, but seldom do I actually witness the judgmental, “You’re a dirty, rotten sinner!” attitude so often accused.

Here’s a breakdown of how this may work on a couple of different hot-button issues:

“Abortion is murder.”

What they hear: “Evil baby killer!!”

What was meant: “That is a human life who didn’t ask to be in this situation. It’s not the baby’s fault. You’re not a murderer. Please don’t end an innocent life.”

“Homosexuality is a sin.”

What they hear: “God hates fags!!”

What was meant: “God has a design for human sexuality, and we should use and enjoy sex within the limits of His design. Like fire, when it’s in the fireplace, it lights and warms the house, but get it out of the fireplace and it can burn the house down.”

For various reasons, some deserved and some not, there is a large segment of society that filters all Christian statements through a filter of hate or judgmentalism.

Are there hateful and judgmental people who proclaim to be Christians? Of course. Does Christ or the doctrines of Christianity teach hate and judgmentalism? No.

Christ teaches love and compassion that is able to stand in the face of what God calls sin, admit that it is sin, but still have a heart of compassion for the individual. In John 8 Jesus treats the woman caught in adultery with compassion, turns away her assailants who seek to kill her, and even says that He doesn’t condemn her. But in no instance does He say what she had done was ok, and He even ends the exchange by imploring her to stop sinning. Compassion and admission of sin at work side by side.

Do Christians do this well? There are probably as many answers to that question as there are Christians in the world.

If there is one thing I could hope my friends from “the other side” get from this is that when you hear/read a Christian say, “X is a sin,” or “You shouldn’t do Y,” please do not let your knee-jerk reaction be an assumption of hate and judgmentalism. Chances are, if they didn’t care about the person (community/state/nation) in question they wouldn’t be saying anything at all.

Most Christian activism is not based on bigotry, hate, or just wanting to force our views on everyone else. (Yes, there are some people who are simply jerks, but it can be argued they’re not actually “followers of Christ”… different issue.)

We actually do love and care about people and believe God’s Word presents Truth. And we do not want our nation, our communities, or the individuals around us to suffer the harm done when we venture outside of the way God designed things to work. That’s not a stance of hate. That is a stance of love.

 

We are not judging “those people,” we are seeking to love our neighbors by arguing for our position, trying to persuade people to see a different point of view, and advising those around us of a wiser and better way.

You may not think it is a wiser or better way, but that is a whole other issue. We certainly should have that conversation. But that conversation cannot take place as long as one side has an erroneous understanding of the position of the other.

You don’t cast us all as hateful, judgmental bigots trying to set up a theocracy, and we won’t assume you’re all a bunch of godless, anti-American communists, conspiring to tear down the foundations of society to meet your own twisted agendas.

Deal?

 If my hair wasn’t already thinning, I just might pull it out.

This is a good follow up to my last post on Human Nature.

I don’t know why the total ignorance of reality constantly being paraded before us still surprises me, but sometimes it does.

We’re corrupt, fallen, selfish people, and without the regeneration and new life given through Jesus Christ we can never really comprehend morality. People can learn good habits and even have good humanitarian reasons why “being good” is, … well … good. But depraved minds just don’t really get it.

Every one’s favorite “Twilight” star (thankfully that series is over). … anyway, a while back she was apparently caught in a heated make-out session with the directer. Not a big shock there. She’s 22 and he’s 41. Still no real big shock there either, but it gets a little too day-time-TV drama when you learn she has a boyfriend and he has a wife and kids!

Scandalous, even in our rapidly declining society.

The part that just really got me all riled up is a supposed “source”‘s take: Apparently the girl “is absolutely devastated.” Well, at least she has some conscience left. Let’s pray the Holy Spirit can use it to prompt her to receive the Gospel, if there’s anyone in her life who will share it.

The source went on to tell People, “It was a mistake and a complete lapse in judgment.” (ya think?) “She wasn’t having an affair with Rupert. It was just a fleeting moment that shouldn’t have happened. She never meant to hurt anyone.” We seldom do, but that doesn’t change things. Here’s the REAL kicker that got me, “She’s a good person who just made a bad choice.” 

WHAT?! 


OK, I don’t want this to be a drama filled, bash on a celeb piece. So let’s forget the who we’re talking about. The Who doesn’t matter.

You don’t get to be hot-and-heavy with a guy nearly 2x your age who has a family and say “Oops, I feel bad about it.”  You don’t accidentally make out with a married man. And a married man sure as heck doesn’t accidentally play kissy-face with a 20-something co-worker.

And yet, many still have the audacity to say, “They’re really good people at heart. It was just a mistake.”

When will we wake up? No they’re not really good at heart. They’re just like the rest of us, “sinful from birth” (Psalm 51:5) and in need of forgiveness (Romans 3:22-24).

People ask how a loving God could allow bad things? We’ve so deluded ourselves that we don’t see that the bad in the world comes from us, and not just the big stuff but even the small miseries. We do them to ourselves and to each other.

If God wasn’t loving, the bible would be about 3 pages long, and He would have sent the whole lot of us straight to hell … and He’d be right to do so!

But He loves us enough to give us life and give us hope, hope that we can be forgiven because of His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).

We’re not a bunch of good-at-heart people making mistakes every now and then. We are selfish, pride-filled sinners deserving of justice. Some people have asked me why God puts up with us. If we’re so bad, why doesn’t He just wipe us out? Why drag this out?

We are guilty, and we have a death sentence (Genesis 3). The same reason we keep death row inmates around for decades before actually carrying out the sentence. Mercy. We allow time for appeals and a chance for them to prove their innocence, or maybe even for a pardon to come through. While we are certainly guilty, and there is no higher appeal than God, we can be pardoned. Jesus Christ died and rose again to purchase that pardon for all who would repent and believe. God is not being cruel in allowing us to stay in this broken world with all of its miseries and problems. He is giving us time to come back to Him so that we may be pardoned.