Monday, 25 June 2007

Specks of sawdust

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Mother Teresa

I had quite a few ideas for this posting – until I heard a fantastic sermon on sexuality. Karl Martin of Morningside Baptist Church admitted that it is one of the hardest sermons that he has ever delivered. His handling of the subject was sensitive and insightful - I congratulate him. If only other ministers could approach such awkward subjects with the same degree of diligence.

As a Christian I believe that we have to grapple with subjects that we’d probably rather not deal with. Or rather, we’d rather not deal with the complexity that lies behind them. We seem to be quite happy to trot out glib, judgmental sound bites – which usually make us seem harsh and uncaring. But it’s not exactly following the example of Jesus, is it?

We must be capable of explaining the rationale for our positions, recognising that we are frail and sinful beings ourselves, and this brings me to the crux of the matter – integrity. If we are to connect with people, and influence their behaviour, we must behave with integrity. First we need to understand people not judge them, we need to love and not shun. We need to model our words and behaviour on those of Jesus.

Sadly we seldom do so – we prefer to judge from afar, and even worse – we are vocal in our condemnation of certain sins. These are usually sexual in nature, and in evangelical churches homosexuality is a big favourite. (What would Freud think!) I don’t remember hearing too many sermons denouncing Internet porn, or domestic abuse/neglect, or even theft/ tax fiddling.

Finally, I was astonished to find that some of the conservative evangelicals in the US have criticised some of their fellow evangelicals, because they have raised the issue of global warming. The reason for the criticism is apparently that it will distract from their focus on gay rights and abortion!

I will close now before this turns into a complete rant.

“Understanding a person does not mean condoning; it only means that one does not accuse him as if one were God or a judge placed above him.”
Erich Fromm

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