I am constantly amazed by the behavior of people who consider themselves Christians. I try not being judgmental of their behavior but sometimes we just need to call them out for it. Calling one's self a Christian carries with it an expectation that we have a passing understand of what that means, and the bottom line for me is loving one another.
Last week, there was an article in the Huffington Post about a church that canceled a funeral of a man who did not belong to the church (but his family did) when they discovered the man was gay. The funeral had been planned and was announced and when the people of the church discovered this fact about the deceased they called their pastor in outrage, so much so that the pastor had no choice but to cancel the funeral. I find this type of behavior, from people who call themselves Christians, to be outrageous!
There has been a lot of discussion on the Internet and other places about the perceived persecution of the Christian Church here in America. The radical gay agenda is taking over and before long it will take over the church, the mantra goes. When the same-sex marriage issue was looming in Massachusetts a group of "family oriented" people started a petition drive. They called the church and asked if I would be willing to put the petition out on a particular Sunday for my parishioners to sign. I respectfully declined whereupon I was berated by the person on the other end of the phone and told that the government would "force you to marry those people." "Those people." Very Christian.
I do not fear persecution from outside of the Church; what I fear is what the Church is doing to itself! I do not fear external persecution but internal persecution. We have become so self-righteous that we have forgotten that we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God and should fall on our knees daily and beg His forgiveness. Some in the Church no longer look at people as people but as objects.
Back to the story of the Church and the funeral. I wonder what other sinful behavior they say is not worthy of a funeral from their church. Theft? Adultery? Lying? Fornication? How about the greatest destroyer of families: divorce? Would drug addicts and alcoholics be worthy of a funeral from the Church? These are rhetorical questions of course but it seems we are so obsessed with homosexuality that we are willing to overlook all of the other sins that humanity is guilty of. Oh yes, I left out gluttony and materialism. We inside the Church are our own worst enemies!
I am not saying that we should change the rules; I am saying the exact opposite. One of my favorite stories from Scripture is the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus meets her and they begin a conversation which is remarkable on two levels. One, she is a woman, and two, she is a Samaritan. Jesus does not judge the woman, who had been married at least five times and is now living with another man to whom she is not married. Jesus points out her shortcomings and with love guides her to the right way. He does not refuse to speak to her, He does not yell at her and picket outside her house. He does not wag His finger in her face and call her a sinner, no, He calmly speaks to her and reveals to her how her life is coming off the rails and shows her a way, with love and understanding, to get her life back on track. The tradition of my Church teaches that she became of the greatest evangelists and died a martyr's death for the faith. Imagine if Jesus had treated her like the people in the church I mentioned earlier. She would have gone away disgusted with "church people" and possibly would have been lost forever. This is the greatest threat to the Church today, self-righteousness!
I have often said that the world would be a better place if each of us just worried about our own lives and took care of our own souls. If we want peace in the world then we have to find it within ourselves and then we can change the world. Love one another is my theme but if I do not put it into practice it is worthless. Time to be the light rather than the darkness.