Can We Please Stop Judging Each Other? by Lisa Hunt-Wotton
Rarely a week goes by when I am not asked about my thoughts on homosexuality.
To be honest it is not an issue that worries me. I think there are far more pressing concerns in the world today. Also, please note: I am definitely, not an authority on this issue, I have just recorded my views a few times on this blog over that last few years.
I will put links at the end of this article for those who are interested.
Just today my gorgeous local barista asked me what I was writing about on my blog at the moment. He said, “I know what you should write about but we don’t agree on it”. I said: “Sam, it’s perfectly fine that we don’t agree on things. That doesn’t even matter to me. What matters is that I adore you and nothing will ever change that. It is healthy to have discourse, discussion and disagreements. What is important, is that it is done in love.
It annoys me that we spend so much time debating with each other about things that Jesus never once spoke about. Jesus never once talked about birth control, homosexuality, and abortion—bodily “sins” because the body can most easily carry shame. We shouldn’t disregard bodily shame or addictions, but they are not the core problem. Jesus focused on issues of power, prestige, and possession—which all of us have largely ignored.
If you are a follower of Christ and then your main concern should be love. Jesus command was that we were to love God and love our neighbour. He actually instructs us NOT to judge.
I wonder what it would be like if we spent more time actually focussed on issues of power, inequality, prestige, consumerism and injustice instead of constantly pointing the finger and judging others. So my opening comment about this topic is that we should lead with love and not with judgment or theology.
At the very least, if we are not sure or don’t have the answers, don’t judge.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Judge not, but wait for the Lord. He will bring to the light things now hidden in darkness, and disclose the secret purposes of the heart.
It’s actually not our job to judge. We spend way too much of our time making up our minds about people. Making decisions about them and judging them. Are they right are they wrong? Are they good or are they bad. When you practice love you will stop judging others. You will love unconditionally.
God’s job is to judge, and ours is to love.
Richard Rohr says that “Love is not really an action that you do. Love is what and who you are, in your deepest essence. Love is a place that already exists inside of you, but is also greater than you”.Tweet
When we judge, when we persecute, when we draw hard lines in the sand and build walls, we are operating out of a spirit that does not come from Jesus. His is a love that includes, gathers, embraces and draws to himself. He is full of compassion and peace.
“To die to our neighbours means to stop judging them, to stop evaluating them, and thus to become free to be compassionate. Compassion can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with the other.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
Notice the reason Jesus warns against judgment. The danger in passing judgment on someone is that we’ll have our own standard come back to haunt us. We don’t know the full story, we don’t know the end from the beginning. How can we judge when we are ourselves fallen, broken and have darkness within us. When we form judgements about others we actually become hypocrites.
“Or how can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?” – Jesus
“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight ….And you look at the tree and you allow it. …You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” Ram Dass
But what about the biblical texts I hear you saying.
Well there are many theologians who have grappled with these issues. My own experience is that most of the clobber texts that are thrown around today against homosexuality are actually taken out of context.
My perhaps oversimplified ‘view’ at this time is that most or all of the Biblical passages about homosexuality are spoken about persons who are exercising their lusts and passions in selfish and/or violent and abusive ways, certainly not consistent with self-giving, sacrificial love.
No one is trying to make a case for promiscuous sexual behaviour regardless of what sexual orientation we may be talking about. In fact, most of the sexual perversion, aggression, abuse and violence done in the world today is by heterosexual men. I could write for days about that!
“What we are talking about today is a small percentage of the population across racial and geographic boundaries composed of same-sex oriented persons who genuinely desire to give their lives in self-giving, sacrificial loving covenant relationships with each other. This is in my view very different from the matrix of most or all of the passages mentioning homosexuality in the Bible and I realise that scholars are divided on this”, (“Biblical Authority and Homosexuality” by Hardy Steinke)
I think Jesus gives us a very insightful clue of what awaits in the age to come. There will be no marriage in the way that we now experience it. Matthew 22:30
For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels[a] in heaven.
Love is not ruled by gender. Love is not determined by gender. Love is not limited to gender.Tweet
I will end this little discussion by leaving you with some quotes on sexuality by some very well respected theologians who have a lot more gravitas than me.
Tony Campolo is an American sociologist, pastor, author, public speaker
As a social scientist, I have concluded that sexual orientation is almost never a choice and I have seen how damaging it can be to try to “cure” someone from being gay. As a Christian, my responsibility is not to condemn or reject gay people, but rather to love and embrace them, and to endeavour to draw them into the fellowship of the Church. When we sing the old invitation hymn, “Just As I Am”, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too. (Tony Campolo)Tweet
Rest assured that I have already heard –and in some cases made – every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage, including those of Dr. Ronald Sider, my esteemed friend and colleague at Eastern University. Obviously, people of good will can and do read the scriptures very differently when it comes to controversial issues, and I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about this one.
However, I am old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases for keeping women out of teaching roles in the Church, and when divorced and remarried people often were excluded from fellowship altogether on the basis of scripture.
Not long before that, some Christians even made biblical cases supporting slavery. Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong. I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again,
Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church
Julian of Norwich sometimes refers to God as Father and sometimes refers to Jesus as Mother. Gender means almost nothing to her because she is beyond that. There’s something deeper than gender. As alluring and as important as gender is, as it is our metaphor held in our body, it is not our ontological identity. It is not our foundational, essential truth. Your gender is not the True Self. It’s part of the False Self.
That’s what Jesus is referring to when he says, “…in heaven, they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Mark 12:25). But because gender is so deep in our early conditioning, in many of our lives we cling to it until the very end.
Male and female are most different at their most immature levels and most alike at their most mature levels. When you have matured to the point where you are beyond the dualisms that our dualistic minds have imposed on reality, then you know you are children of the resurrection. You are children of light and there is no male or female, as both Paul and the Gospel of Thomas say.
People who already begin to experience such unity in this world will usually find it very easy to be compassionate toward lesbian, gay, and transgendered people, because they know that the True Self, who we objectively are in God, is prior and superior to any issues of gender, culture, or sexuality. Gender is important, but it is still an “accidental” part of the human person and not its substance.
The object and goal of all spirituality is finally the same for all genders: union, divine love, inner aliveness, soul abundance, forgiveness of offenses, and generous service to the neighbor and the world. Here “there is no distinction…between male and female” (Galatians 3:28). Mature Christian spirituality leads us toward such universals and essentials. Yet people invariably divide and argue about nonessentials!
Walter Brueggeman is an American Protestant Old Testament scholar and theologian. Brueggemann is widely considered one of the most influential Old Testament scholars of the last several decades.
“I know those texts are in the Bible, but the Bible is a dynamic tradition that’s always on the move to new truth. If you track that out, probably the ultimate statement about that is made by Paul in Galatians 3, that in Christ there is neither male nor female, Greek nor
Barbarian, slave or free. We are all one in Christ. And what we know in the gospel is that God’s love reaches toward all of God’s creatures. To sort them out in terms of who are the deserving and the qualified and who are not is imposing a judgment on human reality that simply cannot be done.
But some Christians fear disobeying God when it comes to LGBTQ issues. Because of What the Bible says, they fear that they are compromising the gospel. Well, what we do is to pick and choose things out of the Bible that conform to our fears. It’s not a matter of obeying the Bible — it’s about obeying the gospel. The gospel is about God’s saving love that wants to restore all of humanity to full communion. To reach back to an ancient text that has now been corrected by the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is simply a bad manoeuvre and poor methodology and theologically irresponsible. Those texts are not the determinative texts.
The texts that are determinative are those that talk about the love of God that has been shown to us in Jesus. We can’t compromise that.”
Links: Homosexuality A Chat
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