A Reflective Christian

All for God’s Kingdom

The percieved behavior of the church to homosexuality

As I was sitting in United Methodist Theology intensive course the past couple days, our professor Dr. Seamands emphasized that the proper Christian response is both the extreme of zeal for truth, and that of extreme compassion for persons. Another, more cliche, way of talking about this tension is “love the sin, hate the sinner.” Christians feel it necessary to talk about this because we have a sense of perceived guilt in Christianity as a whole in the past and present. And in many ways, some Christians have overemphasized truth.

Nevertheless, I would dare so that we are convinced that i it is such a rampant problem because we have heard about it from so many people and we hear of the occasional instances of hatred towards homosexuals (and others). We are convinced by a few anecdotal instances and then a whole perception that are validated when the occasional instance occurs.

However, this perception is also strengthened by another phenomenon of human psychology. As I have noticed with many of the students who responded in class to this issue in the Methodist church, people were rather quick to emphasize the compassion aspect of dealing with the issue. It is almost an automated response now.  Such an automatic response wouldn’t happen unless we were talking about something that might seem to be contradictory of compassion, either in supposing outside interpretation or our own interpretation of what we are talking about.

Allow me to throw this hypothesis out there. I would say that much of our current perception in the church is subtly reinforced because we have been taught that any response that can not directly be classified as compassionate is immediately construed as lacking compassion. In other words, much of our feeling of corporate guilt as Christians is not because of the extreme reactions of hatred (such as Fred Phelps as an extreme of the extreme), but because we have been culturally taught that any thing that doesn’t fall into the definition of compassionate and loving is immediately contradictory.

Now this isn’t exactly a new brilliant idea that we have taken societies definition of compassion and love. However, in explaining the psychology of our self-perception as a church, I think it is critical to understand that. These, at worst, minor infractions of compassion continue to reinforce our perception of our own guilt, but when we envision our guilt, we  would tend to envision it in it extremes.

The result then, is that we rapidly lose the tension between truth and love, because we constantly perceive infractions against the principle of love. Thus, while the statement that we must hold these two principles is true of our Christian words, actions, and beliefs, the emphasis upon this tension in our cultural context leads to the gradual loss of the pole of truth.

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January 20, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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