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A Demonstration of Love Is Needed

By Barrington H. Brennen, June 23, 2016

 

 

During the months and weeks leading up to the Constitutional Referendum on June 7, 2016, in The Bahamas, when the nation voted on four bills concerning citizenship and gender equality, there has been mush said that has left a real feeling sadness in the hearts of many. 

 

While some of us, including myself, voted “YES” on or four bills, and are saddened by the “NO” results, we are equally saddened because of the unkind language and messages that was shared on talk shows, the streets, community halls, and even sometimes from church pulpits.  The negative message was not necessarily that we must “Vote No;” although in my opinion the “No Vote” is counterproductive for building a healthy nation.  Some of the negative messages were:  “Homosexuals have no rights.”  “Lesbians are going to hell.” “Homosexuals have no place in this country.”  “Same sex couples must get out of this country.”  “The Government has an ulterior motive.”  “Let the foreign husbands stay where they belong—outside of The Bahamas.”  “Let those sinners burn in hell fire.”   On and on it went.   The name of “God” was used and misused to twist the logical, progressive, humane, proposed amendments to the Constitution into a diabolical plan.   Although this last sentence reflects my opinion, we must agree that the behavior of many of us is not a reflection of our claim to be citizens who are friendly, loving and kind.

 

In addition, many Bahamians boast that our nation is a Christian one, but in reality, our actions and words conflict with many our beliefs.   I am deeply saddened that far too many have forgotten to put into practice what they have read and were taught from a child.   For example, 1 Corinthians 13:4 says “Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.”  Please, no more rudeness. Let’s stop it.    Matthew 5:44 says “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”  If you say homosexuals are your enemies, weren’t you taught to love them unconditionally?    Colossians 4:6  “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”   Wow!  This last verse should have been read on the radio every day before the voting.   Grace is seriously missing from the conversation of many.   

 

How do we express grace in our language?   How do we express mercy in our behavior?   What makes Christian people behave so angrily towards those they call “sinners?”    In the article “10 Excuses Christians Give for Treating Others Badly,” the author Jeremy Myers, states “Christians are notorious for bad behavior. In some recent surveys (reported in books like unChristian and They Like Jesus but Not the Church), it appears that most people in our culture (USA) believe that Christians are about as trustworthy as car salesmen and lawyers.”  Here is one reason the author states Christians act so badly:  “Some of it is our theology. Many Christians develop a sense of entitlement because we are the “chosen ones” the “elite” the members of the family of God. We feel this gives us the right to look down upon others who are not one of us. . . Sometimes, our behavior is a result of our understanding of God’s grace and forgiveness. We feel that because God forgives us for all our sins, we can treat others in terrible ways, and God will still forgive us. While it is true that God will forgive us for such behavior, His grace is never a license to treat others so shamefully.”   Here is a punch line of he author: “Then there is the critical, judgmental, legalistic attitude so often taught and practiced in churches. Since we feel we have a corner on the truth and that we are the ones who are always right, this makes us believe that it is our responsibility to be the world’s policemen, going around pointing out where people are wrong and how they are sinning. This is rarely received well by anyone, especially when we have glaringly obvious sins in our own life.” 

 

It is imperative here that I list the ten points or excuses the author states why Christians act so badly because I believe they are relevant to us today:

  1. We Christians are sinners too.  There are other versions of this excuse, such as “Hey! Nobody’s perfect!” or “I’m not perfect; just forgiven.”  The idea behind this excuse is that the watching world has put unrealistic expectations on us as Christians. We complain that they seem to think we should live perfect lives, which is impossible.

  2. It’s nothing personal; it’s just business. Sometimes people say, “This has nothing to do with my Christianity.” Christians who say these things reveal a deep misunderstanding of what following Jesus is all about. For a follower of Jesus, there is no such thing as “it’s just business.”

  3. Judge not, lest you be judged.  People don’t like their sin pointed out to them. I know I don’t. And it is easy to get defensive and tell people to mind their own business. But if we are failing to be salt and light in the world, then we are supposed to be held to higher standards, and sometimes this means people will point out to us our failures. When this happens, it is easy to get upset, lash out, and tell people that they have their own sin to take care of (which is likely true). But such arguments about who is the worst sinner rarely lead to anything good.

  4. It isn’t illegal.  I know a Christian lawyer from New York who steals money from others legally. I challenged him on it once, and he said that he is not doing anything illegal, which was technically true. He had the law of the United States on his side, and he had figured out a way to legally swindle people. Nothing he was doing was breaking any of our nation’s laws. But there is a big difference between not breaking the laws of our nation, and treating people with love, respect, and dignity. God’s laws are higher than man’s laws, and even though a person may be following man’s laws perfectly, this does not mean they are following God’s laws. So be careful when you justify your actions because you are not breaking any laws.

  5. I have righteous anger. In your anger do not sin.  Be careful if you ever find yourself quoting this verse. When this verse is being quoted, very rarely is the anger in question actually “righteous anger.” Usually, it is self-righteous anger, and we are sinfully lashing out at someone who slighted us, and then justifying our anger by calling it “righteous anger.”

  6. “They’re not Christians. Some people have the misguided belief that we are only to treat those within the family of God with honesty and respect. Those outside the family of God can be slandered, abused, and swindled. Sometimes Christians will say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” In other words, the world operates on a different set of ethics than Christians do, and so when we deal with Christians, we must use their set of ethics.”   

  7. “I have righteous anger. In your anger do not sin.  Be careful if you ever find yourself quoting this verse. When this verse is being quoted, very rarely is the anger in question actually “righteous anger.” Usually, it is self-righteous anger, and we are sinfully lashing out at someone who slighted us, and then justifying our anger by calling it “righteous anger.”  How true. 

  8. “Don’t throw pearls before swine.  I actually know some Christians who say this. They say that all non-Christians are swine, and should be treated as such. We are only to treat Christians nicely.”

     

    "The Christian’s salt-effect occurs when a non-Christian or even another Christian, comes in contact with a Christian through regular social interaction.   The “salt” should “rub off” and not be forced down the throat."

    Barrington Brennen

     

  9. “Hey, I’m not in church!  As with some of the other excuses above, this excuse reveals a deep-seated misunderstanding of what the church is and how followers of Jesus are supposed to live and function. Church is not a place you go to for a couple hours on Sunday or Saturday morning. It is not an event at which you temporarily change your clothing and behavior.  Church goes with you wherever you go, and so no matter what you are saying or doing, you are representing Jesus and His church.”

  10. “We must please God rather than men.  I love this one, especially when Christians quote it as a way to justify being mean and rude to other people. Somehow the twisted logic is that we can please God by pissing off other people. Or something like that. But I have a feeling that if we are trying to please God and in the process are making friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors hate us, we probably are not pleasing God either.”

I hope these excuses and the ones in the previous article caused you to think.   There is so much pain inflicted in the world by Christians who should be bringing peace and healing.  It is my view that many do not understand how to apply what Matthew 5:13-15 says “You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the light of the world.”  What far too many Christians are doing is trying to “pour salt” on everyone.  The Christian’s salt-effect occurs when a non-Christian or even another Christian, comes in contact with a Christian through regular social interaction.   The “salt” should “rub off” and not be forced down the throat.

 

Let me give a direct message to my Christian friends.  My challenge is this.  Far too many Christians have been taught in reality to hate the sinner instead of hating the sin itself.   That is wrong.  Wake up friends, change is coming and the Christian church must be a center for peace and healing.  Are you ready?   Christian comedian, Mark Lowry's words are perfect for this:   "Love the sinner, hate the sin? How about: Love the sinner, hate your own sin! I don't have time to hate your sin. There are too many of you! Hating my sin is a full-time job. How about you hate your sin, I'll hate my sin and let's just love each other!"

 

FEAR TACTICS:   During the past several months many spiritual leader were seeking to instill fear into the hearts of many.  They fear that same-sex marriage will come.  They fear homosexual openness.  They fear transgender people.   They fear that “those people will change our country.”  They fear that women will have more power than men.   There is so much fear going around that many forget that those they fear are humans, like they are, deserving of our love, respect, and understanding.  Christians, I encourage you to remember that our duty is to love everyone.   Every human being in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is entitled to respect, equal treatment under the law, and fairness.  This include transgenders, homosexuals, lesbians, intersect, bisexuals, heterosexuals, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, Haitians, Jamaicans, Philippians, Barbadians, etc, etc.  

 


 

Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, JP, is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com  or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org  or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.

 

 

 

 
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