One night last week while cooking dinner, I realized I hadn’t thought things through. When it was time to cook the broccoli, I noticed that the pot I needed to steam it in had my pork in it. Whoops! I quickly switched gears and tossed it onto a baking sheet to roast it. Now my family loves roasted broccoli. It is tasty, but I HATE how it makes my house smell. Yuck! I am ultra sensitive to the smell and the next day was still bothered by it. I decided to light some candles to try to get rid of the smell. I realized that my lighter was out of fluid so I grabbed an old box of matches that I had in the junk drawer and was transported back in time.
When I was a child, my parents taught me about the dangers of fire and matches. In fact, they may have taught me a little too well. When I was old enough to light a match, I was terrified by it. I just knew I would catch myself on fire. I was 13 years old and I was going to my aunt’s house to babysit my cousin. My aunt had a very old gas oven that you had to light each time you wanted to cook and I had to cook my cousin dinner. Really I just had to heat up a simple can of soup and there wasn’t a handy microwave to use. My dad patiently sat with me in our kitchen trying to show me how to light a match so that I could do it when I got to my aunt’s house.
Well when it came time to heat up the soup, I just couldn’t do it. I was paralyzed with fear. I would try to strike the match on the side of the box, but my stroke was not firm enough. My fear kept me from being able to do it and I had to call my mom to come light the stove for me. Epic fail! Fear is a tricky thing. It can stop us in our tracks or send us running in the other direction and a whole lot of things in-between.
Recently the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood drafted a statement of faith referred to as The Nashville Statement (NS) relating to human sexuality and gender roles. It was signed by many pastors and has created quite a stir. Rather than me explaining it here, you can click on the link to see what it’s about.
The statement is filled with language that is familiar to many in the church so it was no surprise to me. It did, however, draw a line in the sand (Article 10) that I think might cause an exodus in the church that they didn’t take into consideration. In my frustration, I posted the following as a post on my Facebook account:
“So according to the Nashville Statement I am not a Christian. A group of people, who don’t know me, decided that I am not worthy of their club. That’s ok. Because I don’t want to be a part of their club. In fact, I’m not a Christian. I will no longer associate myself with that name. I am a follower of Jesus and I love God and people as He has instructed me to do.”
I got some push back for making this statement. I received some private messages over it. Some people were afraid that I was leaving my faith. Some feared, as they have mentioned before, that I am following a watered down gospel. And some feared that I was letting the authors of the statement “win.”
So, I thought I would put my thoughts down here…
My faith is intact. It has not changed. My identity in Christ has not changed. The language I use to describe myself is what has changed. I run into a lot of Christians who quite frankly are damaging to the LGBTQ+ community. The NS which was signed by many prominent pastors is damaging. I’m an ally to a community that is bleeding. I’m not going to identify as someone who is causing that wound. I want to be a safe place for them. Sadly identifying as a Christian in my opinion is not safe for them (not everyone shares this opinion – this is just my opinion). There aren’t any winners here. We are talking about lives. And although I don’t care what this NS says about me…I do care what it says about LGBTQ+ community. I also care about what that community sees in me. To me the word Christian is…well just a word. We should look at the actions of others to determine if they are following Jesus. And that’s what I am…a follower of Jesus.
The group of people who got together and wrote the NS were expressing their beliefs. They have the right to do that. Just as I have the right to believe what I believe. They read the Bible and interpret it one way, and I read the Bible and interpret it another way. I took the Bible, historical context, and the studies of many people much smarter than me to get where I am with my beliefs. But more importantly, I listened to the Holy Spirit. I still have questions. I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m ok with that. It seems that it’s ok to look at other historical documents to prove that Jesus existed, but it’s not ok to look at cultural and historical information to formulate what a Bible verse might be saying. I don’t get that.
These are just my thoughts. Many people in my situation are still ok with identifying as Christians and of course that is perfectly fine. I think each of our personal experiences shape our journey and everyone’s journey is their own.
I spent too many years in fear of doing the right thing…believing the right thing. Too many years concerned about what others thought of me. My fear paralyzed me to the point where I didn’t know what to believe, and at times I isolated myself because I worried I would say or do the wrong thing. Thankfully I have gotten over that. Like I said in my FB post…God calls me to love…there’s no fear in that.
Fear not…and love…because love matters.