Monday, April 30, 2012

Love Makes Us Helpful (soap journal #2)

S) Knowledge makes us proud of ourselves,  but love makes us helpful to others. (1 Corn. 8:1)
O) Paul really understood what it meant to love. He later says, if he knew that eating meat sacrificed to idols--though for himself was not a sin--but if it hurt another Christian who believed it was a sin,  then he would never eat meat again. In other words, he was willing to give up his rights so as not to hurt someone else. That is love.
A) We are all about 'rights' these days--pursuing what will make us happy, regardless of who it hurts in the process. My goal is love, all else is secondary. This will help me in my decision making.
P) Lord, you are love.  All that you do comes from love--that is why we can trust you. Show me how to love.

I must say, I think I have misused this verse and this concept in the past...let me explain. When my daughter first came out to us, we had some friends over who were Christians and didn't know. Amber was giving her girlfriend a backrub on the couch--just trying to help her get out the knots. I was worried--I was embarrassed--what would our guests think? (It's hard not to guess Amber's girlfriend is gay--she looks very masculine) I came over and whispered in Amber's ear to please stop. I'll never forget the way she looked at me; she was just so taken by surprise. (she just couldn't understand why anyone would be upset at a backrub) Later I used this verse to justify my actions.  Even though for Amber, this backrub was not a sin--to our guests it might appear sinful. So, out of respect for our guests, she needed to not show that kind of affection to her girlfriend. But if I'm honest with myself, the only thing I was really worried about was being judged--and my daughter being looked down on.

Looking at 1 Corinthians in it's whole, I don't think Paul was urging Christians to obey the rules about eating meat so as not to offend those who would judge them for doing so. His concern is the conscience, and that the person who thought eating meat was sinful would then actually eat it too, and condemn himself. He is not saying to give up your freedom to eat meat just because someone else will see you as a sinner. He makes this clear later when he says, "I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?"

I know, for many the homosexual thing is non-debatable. It's a sin, and that is that. And those that say it isn't will argue over translations and what "list" the old testament had it under--is it an 'abomination' like child sacrifice, or is it an 'abomination' like having sex during your period? How do we know if God's pissed off about it or not? For me, I have to come back to the golden rule...I just really don't think rule lists are the answer.

Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the Law demands. In the Law there are many commands, such as, "Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not want what belongs to others." But all of these are summed up in the command that says, "Love others as much as you love yourself." No one who loves others will harm them. So love is all that the Law demands. (Romans 13:8-10)

Again, love is the issue. I want to support my daughter in having a loving, committed, relationship with another human being; and I don't want her to condemn herself for doing so. I want her to treat those who would condemn her with respect and love, but I never want her to pretend she's something she's not just to please them. I regret doing so in that moment of fear...and all I can do is pray that I've learned from my mistakes, and keep going forward.