The Armstrong Family Circus

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Even iron rusts from disuse

Monday May 14th 2012

by Paul Armstrong


I can and never will claim to be an authority on Christian theology — I've studied and read quite a lot over the last 20 or more years (as I've developed, questioned, considered, lived, lost, floundered, ignored, confessed, pleaded, cried, wondered, wandered, searched, found, repented) in my beliefs. I'm a man who falls short of what God would want, always. But one thing I will always try to be is honest. 


It's time to get this out in the open and be honest. The church thinks homosexuality is not only a sin, but having another opinion about the legal status of same sex marriage within the United States that isn't "it's wrong", "it ruins the fabric of marriage" or "it's ruin the sanctity of marriage" is also a sin (because it must therefor promote and support the act of homosexuality).  I recently read a statement from someone I respect, and I don't think the sentiment is abnormal for most church going folks. The statement goes something like this: "I can't believe I worship next to people who support same sex marriage".


In my older age I suppose I've grown weary of issues becoming more important than theology within the church community. Abortion held that pedestal for decades — i.e., if you didn't oppose abortion you were not a Christian. In recent years same sex marriage has been stealing the headlines. Angry talk. Fear. Rhetoric. Whatever your stance on either of those issues, they are not the definition of your belief — they represent your values. To make issues the litmus test of a church and it's people's strength in faith and belief is wrong. The church is first and foremost about Jesus — who he was and is to us so we can live in a way that is honoring to His plan, path and purpose. The Bible is the handbook by which we discover His character. Obviously there is more to church than that (community, learning, growth), but at it's root, I believe that is where we start.


While the topics of the Bible do cover these (and many) issues (we face today), it does not set forth a mandate that we are to judge some one's faith and belief based on their stance on those issues. 


How many more important issues directly impact our church community? How much more shocked would you be to know that you're worshipping next to someone: who watches pornography? Is having an affair? Is getting divorced? Is abusive to their spouse? Is an alcoholic? Has murdered someone? Smokes? Likes to watch Two And A Half Men? Curses? Steals? And even when those people are standing right next to you (and they are, we all carry secret sins) the only thing Jesus demands you do is to love that person as yourself (Luke 14:12-13, Matthew 5:43-47). Not judge. Not place a hierarchical value of what sin is worse than another. Not segment your church community into those you cannot worship next to and those you can. You are to love them. Period (John 8:1-11). Jesus did nothing but show compassion to everyone. He was where most of us would be afraid or to uncomfortable to go. He was on earth for everyone, not just those with whom you agree.


First look at yourself, at your own shortcomings, your own sin; not others. Don't just point a finger at everyone else without first knowing that you are absolutely no better, no less a sinner, than them (Romans 3: 21-24). Am I, or anyone, beyond condemnation? No. But not by you. Only God is the judge for our sins (Matthew 7: 1-5). If there are concerns or issues with me, you go to me privately and we talk, we dialog, we discuss; not a wagging, self righteous finger of reproach and judgement. But how much more loving and compassionate should we be to strangers. How dare we believe we have more power than God to sit upon a throne of judgement and sort out who is worthy of God's forgiveness, what sin is worse than another, when we are all sinners and no more worthy of grace than anyone else. How sad that we close off the chance to show the character of Christ by our actions and words. That our immediate impact is silenced because of our fear. 


If you can't get past someone who doesn't share your opinions, your life will be full of exit doors.




Comments for "Even iron rusts from disuse"

well, that was awesome!

by christine gill
Monday, May 14th, 2012

Great job. I agree.

by Megan Ledford
Monday, May 14th, 2012

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