Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sugar & Spice: A Lesson in Acceptance

I attend a lily white church filled with lily white people who hold to most of the same conservative values I do.

Truthfully? This lack of diversity is a bit sickening at times, especially when it doesn't reflect a reality of cultural unity and acceptance I want to impart to my children.

Although fifty plus years have passed since desegregation began to make strides towards equality, life out here in the country is still mostly segregated.  It's the inner city or areas within the corporate limits of the smaller towns that are mostly populated by the diverse rainbow I miss way out here on the fringes of civilization.

On Thursday nights when I drive an hour into the city to teach ESL, the world shifts, and I'm the only white person in the room.  The deep midnight black skin from Eritrea, the creamy Hershey's chocolate coloring from Rwanda, the copper-tones from Myanmar, and the light khaki tones from Mexico...

It's so beautiful.

Some are Hindus, others Buddhists, Roman Catholics, or nothing at all. 

But diversity isn't just about skin color or ethnicity or even religion anymore.  Increasingly, diversity is being boiled down to a single lifestyle choice--homosexuality.

Everywhere I turn, there is such a dialogue of hatred spewing from Christians over this subject, it would be a shock if  Christianity weren't being labelled harshly as judgmental, bigotted, a progenitor of dark hatred rather than love and light.

It was just last week that a beautiful Christian woman whom I respect encouraged me to not shop at Target because of their open support for the gay and lesbian agenda.  Earlier in the year, another woman criticized my desire to take my children to Disney World since it, too, openly accepted  homosexuality.

I understand this desire to take a stand against sin.  I do.  Still, each time, my lips clench tight as I smile polite, thin.

The downward spiral of immorality in our country scares me.  But what scares me more is the hearts of professing Christians, hearts that are so focused on taking a stand against single sins outside the body that they're alienating a world of lost people before they even have a chance to present the gospel.

And it's all  because modern Christians have chosen to hierarchize sin.  While the Christianity of my grandmother's age placed divorce and fornication at the top of that Babel-like tower, modern Christianity seems to have concluded it has all but lost these wars.  So, they've cleared the top floor for a new "worst of the worst" sin--homosexuality.

Yes, Scripture shows homosexuality to be a sin.  But it also shows living together outside of marriage to be a sin.  It shows most divorce to be a sin.  It shows hatred in one's heart to be as sinful as murder.  It shows lust in one's heart to be as sinful as the physical act of adultery.  It shows putting anything before God to be a sin.

If God, Himself, is willing to say that murder in my heart is identical to actually pulling the trigger, something that just sounds wrong to my fleshly sense of morality, then I'm obviously unqualified to go around thinking my sin is less heinous to God than another's sin.

Our Savior dined with tax collectors, refused to stone the adulterer, extended mercy to the divorcee.  He said the second most important commandment was to love our neighbors as ourselves, not love our straight, morally-upright neighbors only.

Christians are called upon to present the gospel, not do the Holy Spirit's job of convicting men and women of their sin.

Christians are called to be the light of the world--to live morally upright in the world while not being like the world.

We must learn that extending mercy, love, and grace to those living in sin is not the same as giving our blessing to the person's sin.

We don't have to accept a person's sin in order to still show that person Christ's love in word and deed.

It's a lesson we need to take to heart, ourselves.  It's a lesson we need to pass on to our children.

Otherwise, there's a hole in our gospel...and a partial gospel can be worse than no gospel at all.

Image: Sugar and Spice dolls I crocheted for my children to match their "Sugar-n-Spice" magnetic paper dolls.  Something as simple as diversity in the dolls seated on our sofa has already sparked such great discussion about others' differences and how God calls us to love.


  1. Painfully true. That fine line that we must walk in loving our neighbors and standing firm against sin is only, only, only drawn by His Spirit. OH that I would be sensitive and speak when He says to speak WHAT He says to speak and keep silent when He says to keep silent. And above that I would do all in love!

    {P.S. I'm thinking I would love to order these dolls for Christmas for Sophie. There's still plenty of time. {Says the woman who never learned to crochet. So I think there is.} But I'd love to purchase a set for her. I'll get with you on this sometime later if you are interested.}

  2. Rena, it's so hard to walk this line. I write this article and STILL don't know how to walk it. I'm for Christians taking a stand against all sin and immorality. But as I've often heard, "there's a wrong way to do the right thing." I'm for going to the polls, petitioning Congressmen and businesses. But I think above all, we need to be about God's commission to preach the gospel. Somehow, I think the answer to everything is to communicate the gospel in word and in deed.