This is another post originally from ChristianForums, reproduced here so I don’t have to search for it so often. It was originally in the Apologetics forum.
Okay, long rambling thoughts time.
One of the problems, I think, that many people have with Christianity is all the rules, and how weird some of them seem.
I’ll let you in on a secret. There are no rules. If we were gonna have another religion of rules, a set of things you must do, a set of things you must not do… No point in that. It’s been done, it’s covered, it’s nothing interesting for us.
What Christianity offers is that it’s okay. We have lots of interesting thoughts on what moral action is. We will try to live that way. But… We do it knowing first that we will fall short, and second, that we will be accepted anyway.
You don’t always see this. A lot of people sort of forget it. They like to make lists of people whose sins require them to be kicked out, or separated. We love those lists. They’re the lists of the ways we’re better than all those other people.
But the fact is, we aren’t really. We have our own flaws, and even if you don’t see them all, you may rest assured that we do. Well, most of them; honestly, we don’t even see all of our own flaws. But you can get a pretty good handle on your own flaws if you take a break from looking at other peoples’.
That’s the big appeal, the big magic. The thing that’s amazing is not the promise of special treatment, the notion that I’ll have an especially great mansion in Heaven, or that my harp will be connected to a Marshall amp instead of a Crate. It’s not about how many jewels I’ll have in my crown in Heaven. What’s amazing is that I am told I get to be there at all.
I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to earn this. I don’t have to deserve it. I don’t have to have cured all my bad habits. I can still pick my nose. I may still be a little angry sometimes. God loves me anyway. I’m covered. Everything I will ever screw up has been covered since 3PM on a Friday afternoon almost two thousand years ago.
A lot of people talk about repentance. Repentance is important. Repentance, however, doesn’t mean you always manage to get your bad habits under control. It doesn’t mean you always manage to figure out what’s wrong; it just means that, somewhere in there, it starts to matter to you whether you’re screwing up or not. I don’t want to be good because God will reward me. God will take good care of me whether or not I’m any good. I want to be good because it is good to be that way. I want to be good because something happened to let me understand what goodness means, and having seen this, I cannot want otherwise.
There’s a whole big list of people who aren’t good enough. We all hear that list all the time. Well, those lists. Lots of people got lists. You use the wrong God words, you’re bad. You don’t know what a hypostatic union is, well, you’re in big trouble. Think God loves the wrong people, that’s bad too. Love the wrong kind of people yourself? Hopeless. Why even bother preaching to you? You probably have lustful thoughts.
My spouse is one of those lucky people whose gender identity and body type don’t quite align. So far as he’s concerned, he’s a guy. He looks in the mirror, sees a girl, thinks it looks weird. It’s been thirty years now; I don’t think anything’s changing. Lucky for me, he’s a gay guy, so he’s interested in me. Lots of people would have all sorts of problems with him. He wears pants. He doesn’t act like a submissive woman. It’s all good, though; God made Jesse, and God saw that he was Good. He doesn’t have to change, to try to live up to some human’s checklist of acceptable gender roles. He just has to be glad that the world is large and wonderful, and pleased to be a part of it, and he is, and will always be, a part of the Kingdom which has no end.
I know a lot of folks here. A lot of us have all sorts of stuff we don’t always talk about. I’m a second husband, and there was about a year and a half of overlap between me and the first husband. Bad, bad, seebs. Everyone hates the seebs who is so bad. Except, see, this Jesus guy. He doesn’t hate me. He forgives me. (For what it’s worth, so does the first husband, and we’re still good friends, just like we were before he went and married that crazy person I thought was no good for him.) Other people, well, hey, they can tell their own stories, or not.
But… This is the wonder of it. It’s okay. There is a place for me, too.
My spouse does a comic called Metanoia. I’m not about to link to it from here (but I do from the blog version); it’s got a gay hit man, and it goes downhill from there, so it’s not the kind of site you link to from a Christian site. But the name is a pretty Christian name. “Metanoia” was a Greek word, before those English folks stole it. It’s sorta translated as “repentance”, but that’s a mediocre translation. It involves a transformation of worldview, a change in way of thinking.
Repentance, I will say again, doesn’t always mean you change what you’re doing. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s too hard to change. Maybe you’re not ready. Maybe you just have to learn to live with one of the ways you’re not all that great a person. Life is full of surprises.
But one day, you can maybe turn around and realize that it’s all good, it’s all covered, and it’s all okay. You’ve been invited to the party. There is a place at the table for you.
And once you realize that, you realize that you can send invitations to anyone you want, and they’re all invited too.
So, I dunno. That’s why I’ve been here; trying to figure out how to put this big and scary concept into words. And I can’t really, so I think I’ll call it a night. I’m also going on vacation a bit, but I’ll post about that separately. Just wanted to let you guys know that there is a point to all of this. You might look at some of the other people at the party, and wonder why you were invited to a party with people that cool… But they might be thinking the same thing.
Date: 2005-01-17 18:10:38 -0600
One of the mistakes that you seem to be making, seebs, is that you seem to think that everyone else wants to go to heaven, too. However, I do not.
Date: 2005-01-18 15:14:12 -0600
Thanks for giving me some food for thought, but more for giving me expressions of what I think really sums it all up.
Date: 2005-01-21 05:33:02 -0600
Interesting as always, but you are wrong, I think.
There are so many verses about not sinning in order to be saved that I think you are wrong.
I wish you were right though.
Date: 2005-01-21 11:38:29 -0600
Which verses about not sinning in order to be saved are you thinking of?
There are a bunch about doing better as a response to salvation, and enough that point out that this response isn’t optional, but I don’t know of any that put it the other way around and claim it’s a requirement.
From: Chris Weathers
Date: 2005-01-24 05:01:41 -0600
This is a subject bigger than a blog’s comment field, but…
“For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.” (Hebrews 6:4-8 RSV)
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10 RSV)
“For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified, and outraged The Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29 RSV)
“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:20-22 RSV)
Date: 2005-01-24 07:49:11 -0600
So, Chris…do you have anything original and interesting to say about the topic (i.e. something that isn’t from the xian book of hatred)?
Date: 2005-01-24 13:16:16 -0600
I don’t see anything in there about stop sinning being necessary for salvation, or even for “stop doing that” needing to be the first thing that happens after salvation.
Do you have any that support your claim and not mine?
From: Tom Charlebois
Date: 2005-02-06 16:16:06 -0600
Here’s the part I don’t understand Seebs.
I was born with directions to another party. The directions for finding it were hardwired into my brain. Then the world I was born into kept giving me further helpful information about finding it. It’s not a very nice party. It’s full of predators and their prey.
The party you describe is the one I want to find. But it’s hidden behind layers of secrecy. Read the right Book. Learn the Password. Trust Jerry Falwell(no wait, that gets you to the wrong party…no wait, it’s right next door to the REAL party, you can find it from there…) I’m a gay agnostic who has read the New Testament. I really like Jesus’ idea of a party. Why are there so many doormen who want to “see my invitation”? Why did Jesus arrange all of this, unless He wants to keep me out?
~ps my screen name on IIDB is Columbus~
Date: 2005-02-06 17:33:15 -0600
Underneath it all, we’re still social primates who want to defend our tribe from all the other tribes. So, lots of people want to keep everyone from other tribes out of the really good food supply.
The problem is, in this case, the really good party is defined by the fact that everyone’s invited. And that gives our tiny little primate brains huge cognitive dissonance. How can we want to share the good thing with the people who aren’t like us? They might eat our food! What if there isn’t enough grace left for me after all these other people get it?
I am told that kids who acquire younger siblings are often jealous of them for a while. Why is that person taking mommy’s love? I want mommy’s love! Mommy should love me more than him.
It’s just as wrong when people do it with religion…
Anyway, my advice is, if people wanna see your door pass, just tell ‘em Jesus put you on His comp list. And if they actually stop and think about it, they’ll realize you must be right.
Date: 2005-09-02 10:59:22 -0500
Great explanation. I am a fundy who completely agrees. You don’t have to be perfect to be forgiven. It’s all about grace, do your best with what you have. I stumble then get up and do my best not to stunble again, but then I know I will stumble again. Judge not lest you be judged is what I would say to the Rev. Falwells of the world. One has to get beyond the religion to see the relationship. I don’t go to church, I just read my Bible and try to do some good in the world. Lots of love to you Seebs. I miss posting on IIDB, but I keep up with the posts. You are such a good Christian Seebs! Keep up the good work.