WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE NOT INCLUDED (By Patrick Burk)
I can hear it now…oh BOY!!! Here he is again. First he subjects us to his “hyper teen church” attendance, in an attempt to find himself, in his first entry and now he is going to assault us with more of his CRAZY thinking. Guess what? You are right. Now most of what I profess is really only my beliefs. I guess you, the reader can take it or leave it. Some will take and some will not and as my Dad used to say…take all the advice you can get, you may use some of it and you may not use it at all…but it is free and you won’t know if it is useful unless you take it. So here goes.
It has always intrigued me that there is a kind of double standard in some areas of Fundamental Christian thinking. Like my friends – they shall remain nameless so that only I get the feedback. For years they attended a church as regular as the sun rises every Sunday and for years they decided that they really felt like they belonged. One day, a new young minister came to their church and started talking about “living in sin”. Now his intent was to let all know that only man and woman can live together in the “union of God” as husband and wife. IF no marriage has taken place, well then you really were not truly a Christian. This really took them back since they had lived together for 17 years and spent a lot of that time working and helping at church activities. It became apparent that the new direction of the “new” minister did not allow them to feel comfortable with their own prescribed living arrangements. In fact, they were asked over and over again about their arrangement and soon came the pressure to be married.
Feeling that they were being compromised, they left their church of many years and started shopping for a new one. One thing led to another and soon the realization was that NO church doctrine fit their lifestyle. It seemed that living and loving together without a signed contract with some town or city official for some reason negated them from enjoying fulfillment in a church. In their eyes they were together with God. How sorry they felt when minister after minister asked them over and over again about marital status and “encouraged” them to take that step and sign the papers. Two good people, who WORKED hard for their church, set aside because another person, not GOD, but another person felt that their commitment to each other had to be done in a single way. The “churches” way. I thought that sad as well. They chose to stay home on Sundays and work in their garden.
Then there is another friend who was told after his congregation found out that he was gay that he was welcome to stay at the church but it was awkward explaining when he attended with his partner. He was counseled to have his partner attend somewhere else. It would be easier on them because his fellow church members always were talking about him and his “friend”. Once again there is nothing quite as nasty as righteous gossip by those that are free of sin. So where do the Fundamentalist think gay people should go to church? Perhaps the “ship them all to an island alone” mentality really needs to be looked at. It seems strange that my friend’s value as a member stayed intact as long as his partner was not with him. They still liked his weekly and annual donations, they still wanted him to work with the others in taking care of the property and attending all the special functions and they still wanted him to belong, but under their rules of acceptance. No one person has the right to tell another what “life style” is correct for church attendance. No one doctrine holds the moral high road on this issue.
In fact, I really do think that if Christ walked amongst us today he would be sickened by the sense of exclusion that has permeated some areas of Christian Churches. Do we really feel that Christ would not approach anyone with a kind and caring nature? How can we believe that God does not look at all people with caring and compassion? I can tell you one thing, those that denounce others because of life style and do so reciting the word of God really should look in the mirror. Righteousness based on exclusion is not the way of Christ. Kind and caring Christians know that. As a Dad and Grandfather, I hope more and more Christians take the road of acceptance and kindness and not the too often taken road of Christian rhetoric of exclusion. For my kids and grandkids I hope for a better, loving world. I think Christ likes it that way.
NEXT TIME – Why some people feel like they don’t belong?
4 thoughts on “A different perspective on church (Part 2)”
What exactly is the definition of exclusion? Is exclusion the opposite of inclusion? Is inclusion universal because of the work of Christ? Do we sometimes try to interpret the teachings of Christ through our own definition of “righteousness?” Does God draw lines that demarcate inclusion and/or exclusion? Just how serious is God’s command to live without sin, and what defines sin? Can sin be quantified and qualified through tangible-visible manifestations?
How do we respond to the answers to these questions…and what does the response look like?
Gays in church…. now there is a hot button topic. I was once told by a good friend of mine that he believed that it was ok for gays to attend church, but he didn’t think they should be allowed to become members of the church, unless they repented from their lifestyle. The bible is clear that none of us are free from sin. So who are we to decide what sins to allow into congregations.
3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
>>One thing led to another and soon the realization was that NO church doctrine fit their lifestyle.<<
There is of course at least three different ways to respond to this realization:
a. do nothing, absolutely nothing about a life of faith. If you are convinced that there is not a way to marry your life with doctrine/dogma/standards of a “way of faith”, then just pretend that faith isn’t important.
b. create your own religion; If you are convinced that the ways of faith expression that are out there do not match your exclusively correct view of life, then start your own, or mix and match a hybrid that is as customizable as your vehicle.
c. find the truth and get in line with it; If you are convinced that you are out of step with every faith practice, then maybe you are just out of step. You should find a source of truth that defines faith and its source, focus and purpose, and align yourself with it.
You and your friends have chosen b. I have chosen c.
Yea…what about those of us who can’t afford to pay $70 for the marriage license, then the fees for a pastor to preside over the wedding (even if it was an eloping), and then all the other fees with prepping the wedding and such? My husband and I could just barely afford our plain-jane wedding, we asked my parents to pay for our honeymoon (which they generously paid for).
If everything else was already done for free, still, I met people who couldn’t even afford to pay for the marriage license because of whatever reason they could not afford it (made to little money, outstanding medical debts, cost of living too much, etc…)