Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Don't 'Should' On Me!

Two months ago in a post, i mentioned in "Death of a Church and Life in the Hot Zone" that i used to go to a house church that stopped meeting. For the sake of context, i'll mention that those relationships were primarily heterosexual. In speaking to a friend yesterday, i discovered that even though the actual "church" gathering stopped meeting, there was still drama among those people. The drama seemed to be centered around the disapproval of a particular romantic relationship.

(Boy am I glad I'm not in the middle of all that mess! I'm loving life in the hot zone right about now.)

This makes me sad because these are my friends - we're all friends - and they just can't seem to treat each other like they are. Why is it that under the guise of "accountability" people in the "church" feel the need to legislate the logistics of relationships? Out of concern for the couple, "friends" or rather "fellow brothers and sisters in Christ" feel the need to step in and say, "you know, i say this because I love you and I'm concerned about your relationship. You should...blah blah blah". For months, these people have kept this romantic relationship under a microscope watching every move. It's like they're waiting for it to fail to prove that their concerns were right - and if they aren't right, they're going to jinx it with their presence so as to make it fail.

Leave them the hell alone! Goodness. I heard Brennan Manning speak last Sunday and he said a classic phrase, "Don't should on me!" (or in other words, "Don't sh*t on me!"). Should, should, should.... geez, if I were my friends who were in this romantic relationship, i'd be feeling claustrophobic. Back off and let us breathe!

Can you imagine what these "church friends" would say to me if I ever was in a gay relationship and was open about it? Out of concern for my well-being or even state of spiritual cleanliness, I should....blah, blah, blah. I think they need to quit looking for the errors in other people's relationships and start evaluating the kind of love that they are demonstrating in their own relationships - not just the romantic ones but their friendships as well. How loving can they really be towards their friends if they are constantly pointing out what's wrong in the romantic relationship?

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." 1 Corithians 13:4-5

My friend, "E" over at Paradoxy has a great post talking about "Conditional Love". He makes a really good point when he says, "...but by and large I've learned that I still have to be very selective about who I open up to. So when did it become okay for the church to be such an unsafe place?"

Granted, I'm suggesting that these people (my friends) "need to" or "should" back off. But how about we trust Jesus a little bit more to shape His own people rather than taking it upon ourselves to bend them? How about we trust that Jesus transforms lives, paradigms, and lifestyles through process rather than focusing on the fact that they are "living in sin" now and so they must change now - or else we shall intervene!

I'm sure there are some friends out there that have learned about my journey of exploring what it looks like to be both gay and Christian and that they are perhaps "concerned for me". The securing thing for me is knowing that Jesus is with me here on this journey. He loves me and knowing that allows me to trust Him completely. I trust Him enough to guide me and let me know if I'm walking away from Him and so if i'm making a mistake by walking this journey, i'll eventually be led out of the journey. In the mean time, i'm learning and growing in my faith and in my understanding of His love and utter grace for "my" marginalized community. So this gives me the freedom to live out my faith with confidence and without fear of judgment (1 John 4:16-19).

I believe in fellowship and community. I believe in sharpening and challenging each other to grow and be better disciples of Jesus. But there's got to be a point to where we release ourselves from the burden of legislating the logistics of our relationships and we simply love in our relationships. Love God. Love each other. The other commandments will take care of themselves.

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