Where is the good news?

  “And if our society celebrates it, we can’t both be caring and not say anything. Too much is at stake. This means it is an oversimplification to say that Christians — or conservative evangelicals — are simply against homosexuality. We are against any sin that restrains people from everlasting joy in God, and homosexual practice just gets all the press because, at this cultural moment, it’s the main sin that is so freshly endorsed in our context by the powers that be.” – Desiring God, Homosexuality is not like other Sins

When I was in college, I did a colporteur job in Niagara Falls. It’s basically selling books door to door, but they don’t like to call it that. They prefer “Giving away books for donations”, so they can maintain their tax-exempt status, but say they won’t beat your ass like a pimp gone  wrong if you come back to the truck with no books and no money. We would sell books like Peace Above The Storm and The Great Controversy, to show people the gravity of the times in which we lived, to show them the darkness that was struggling to overtake the world, and to share the good news of the man who (already) overcame it. We wanted to share the joy that the above paragraph mentions.
But there was no joy.

One of the problems that I’ve noticed is that in the Christian paradigm, every action has a moral weight, and I genuinely don’t think that’s how life works. The word “sin” somehow attaches a specific weight to a given action. This is a subtle shift, but it results in changes from things like “Smoking is bad for you” to “Oh, that person is committing a sin.” It’s hard to explain the ScarletLetter-like horror that you get from witnessing sin while you still believe the story, but it sure is impactful.

Taking the negative connotation of sin and then applying it to a specific activity is part of what causes that horror. And seeing the person that is committing the very thing that Jesus was brutally murdered in high definition for is what you could describe as a good motive to hate a person. It certainly makes that “Love the sinner, hate the sin” bullshit almost impossible. You’re taught that you should love Jesus, even to the exclusion of your closest friends and family, and then you see that a person rejects or denies Jesus, or spurns the  gift you’ve been told was the ultimate sacrifice, made for them. Hate is just around the corner.

“Look, Timmy, that man is committing the worst abomination against God and man. He seems like a loveable fellow.”

Sin is a bad thing, the worst thing, and the very thing that Jesus Christ came to die for. So when you see someone doing it, there’s a certain scandal that you feel.

I remember working at summer camp, where small children were convinced that their actions had directly led to the death of Jesus, and that they were broken and in need of God’s forgiveness. They crawled to the front in waves, weeping because their actions had hurt Jesus. Here’s a couple of questions about this story.

1) They just told you that you should love Jesus. Why?

2) They not only told you sin was bad, but they introduced you to the very concept. Is that not suspect?

3) Then they told you that sin coincided with certain behaviors and identities. Might their choices as to what those behaviors and identities are have anything to do with their preferences or prejudices?

Not to mention that Christians don’t even seem to have a coherent understanding of sin or what sin is. So eating a baconator is wrong because eating pork is forbidden by the Bible, but cotton-polyester blends are ok? I’m truly not being nitpicky here, it’s honest confusion at the selective metric Christians apply to their Bibles. Is smoking wrong or just bad for you? Is being transgender wrong, or just another kind of person?

And where is the good news, anyway? Where’s the joy? Some dude died so that I could be free, not live in everlasting servitude to Him, right? What is that? How do you wake someone up on a Sunday to tell them that they’re living wrong, but if they would just be a slave to the right master, they’d be free? Or to tell them that they deserved a punishment, but an innocent man was tortured and brutally executed for it, so it’s ok now?

None of this sounds like good news, and if I’m gonna recieve news this bad, you can sure as hell wait till Monday at the office to give it to me.

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Twitter: @Ame0baRepublic


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