Sunday, February 19, 2012

Love and Tolerance

A few weeks ago, an image was posted on that raced across facebook and other social media. It appears that there was a gay pride parade in Chicago, at which a Christian group showed up with signs: Signs reading "I'm sorry for the way the church has treated you" and other similarly toned messages. The picture, view-able here, shows a man clad only in underwear embracing, and being embraced by, a member of that Christian group. So far, so good, right? The church screwed up big time a while back, and we're still dealing with the consequences. It's good to see Christians showing love to the homosexual community.

But there is a problem: If not with the act itself, then with how it was perceived by people at large. Go back to the picture and scroll down to the comments. "This is the Christianity I grew up with! Finally... some tolerance!" "Tolerance and're doing it right." Finally, one that really sums up the problem: "It's a new time of acceptance and allowance. Love reigns..."

Those of you who regularly read my blog may remember a post I did a while back regarding the world's perception of love and tolerance. Judging by the comments on the image, the world is incapable of separating "love" and "tolerance." To the world (and an increasingly large number of Christians), it is unthinkable that you can love someone, and not be tolerant/accepting of their lifestyle. 

I'm going to use an analogy now. And, as with all analogies, their is a danger in it being misunderstood. The only purpose of this analogy is to demonstrate that one can love a person and still seek to change a core aspect of who they are. Understood? Let's take a man with a heart condition. Let's say he has a hole in his heart that gets microscopically bigger with each beat: Let's even say this condition was congenital--he was born this way. In ten or twenty years, he will die. Can you love the person, yet insist he get treatment for it? Of course you can. 

But that's not the same as homosexuality, clearly. That's a purely physical condition, whereas homosexuality is a matter of mind and spirit. So let's take mental illness (note: analogy). Here I should say that I have extensive personal experience in being close to and loving someone who is mentally ill. Often, the illness can very nearly define the person suffering from it, and, to make things worse, the sufferer will often refuse to believe that they are even mentally ill. The illness has been with them so long, it influences every single thought they have, it extends into almost every portion of their being... it seems perfectly, utterly natural to them (indeed, to them it is natural) and they do not understand why they need to take medication, because they're fine, they really are. 

Now: Can you love someone who is mentally ill and, in love, try as hard as you can to get them to take their medication? Indeed, it seems as though that's the only loving thing to be done. It would not be loving to tolerate their illness as something natural, even if it is something they were born with (although here, my personal experience does not extend). It would not be loving to accept their dangerous illness and leave them be. 

That is not love.

But it is tolerance. It is acceptance. It is allowance. And its result is apathy and death.

As a Christian, I believe that homosexual actions are sinful. I understand that to many homosexuals, their homosexuality is a key part of their identity, and I am NOT saying that homosexuals are in any way less human than any other person. But as a Christian, I believe that the proper response, indeed the only response, is to do as Jesus did to the woman caught in adultery: To love the person wholeheartedly, and show absolute intolerance for the sin. "Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and sin no more." Jesus does not condemn her for her sins... BUT neither does he give her (or us) any room for thinking that her lifestyle is acceptable to God. Jesus loved her, not her lifestyle, and he seemed to easily separate the two.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hotwings cannot buy happiness (who knew?)

Got a cool story to tell you guys. So... most of you know that I love hotwings (and yes, for me it is one word). Even thinking about the word, and then typing it out, has caused my mouth to water a little bit. Hmm... hotwings. But anyway, my old apartment in Fresno was about ten minutes from Buffalo Wild Wings (as is my new apartment: life is goooood). And Buffalo Wild Wings has this really cool thing going on Tuesdays: $.50 wings. I'm gonna say it again. Fifty. Cent. Wings. It's basically the greatest invention in the field of hotwings since, well, hotwings. So it became a regular thing for me to go there and get wings to go for lunch, every Tuesday. It made me very happy. It was the non-Anna-related highlight of my week (still is, some weeks). So the backstory is done. Here comes the actual story.

So it's Tuesday. All morning I'm looking at my clock, because while ten o'clock may be too early to get a lunch of hotwings, it's definitely not too early to think about a lunch of hotwings. Around twelve I decide I can go get hotwings without shame. So I head over there: uneventful drive, avoiding most of the traffic. I get there, pull into an open "take-out only" spot (so close to the doors!). I walk in--no line. I go straight to the counter, order my wings, get one order closer to five dollars off (there's a little card that you hand them and they punch a hole in it... pretty standard stuff). Sit down, surf LoL forums on my phone for ten minutes, and get my wings way before I expected them to be ready. I open the bag, crack the cardboard box a bit, and fill my nostrils with the delicious, delicious scent of hotwings. After i regain my composure, I walk out, feeling on top of the world. If I knew how to whistle, I'd be whistling. If I knew how to strut, i'd be strutting. Life is good.

So there I am. In ten minutes I'm gonna get my hotwings all up ins. I open my car door, slide in, set the hotwings down on the seat beside me (oh, the sheer smell of them...), put the keys in the ignition, turn them, and...

Nothing. Just the sad, pathetic sound of my engine telling me, "You know what? I'm not really feeling it right now." No. I turn the key again. No. Again. No no noooooo! Now the smell is taunting me. What am I to do, eat them without soda? In my car? No. That'd be ridiculous. I try again. Still nothing.

Now my car does have issues. It does this sometimes. So the last time I'd been home, my good friend and constant giver of marital advice Silvas had fixed it up for me. I hadn't had problems for probably a month. And then this happens. I call up my dad, call up Silvas. They tell me what to do, but I can't get it done. So now I've been sitting in the car for a good ten minutes. I'm thinking, "I should be eating these wings right now, watching some entertaining show and drinking soda." A thought strikes me, and I pray. And then, on a whim, I try my key again... and it works.  I drove home. I ate the wings. They. Were. Delicious.

But here's the point of the story: Here's that thought that struck me, and continues to strike me. I was so very happy at the prospect of hotwings. I'd been excited all morning about them. And looking back, I can't remember anything related to prayer that morning. No thoughts of God. No thinking Him for an awesome fiance (wasn't married yet). No thanking him for a (mostly) working car. No thanking him for the miraculous job he'd placed in my lap. All of these things were evident. They were right there. But I was excited about hotwings.

And I haven't had any problems with the car since. I think, I really think, that it was a God thing. I think it was God telling me, "Yes, you have hotwings... but you couldn't even have gotten out of the apartment parking lot without my help. You wouldn't be able to afford that apartment without my help. You wouldn't have a job, or a fiance, or a loving family, without my help." And I realized all that as I sat in my car, smelling that delicious smell that at once tantalized me and taunted me. I do think that God broke my car for those ten minutes. And then, when He'd made his point, he fixed it again.

I still get excited about hotwings. But I try to be more excited about God and the awesome gifts He's given me.