Pillow Christians

A ‘pillow’ Christian is soft and accepting of all people, no matter their lifestyle. The alternative is to love people enough, and respect them enough to warn them there are eternal consequences for their moral choices. I heard that from this man. He deleted my comment, but I said something like,

Others want us not to marry, but you want us not to have  homes. I pray that God hardens your heart, so that people see your hatred, are repulsed by it, and come to God’s truth.

He emailed me. I am truly sorry, no one has had the courage to share these truths with you before. Well, people have. On the bus from Newport to Cardiff, a little runt of a man repeatedly evangelised passengers. He spoke to a woman and her partner threatened to thump him, and the driver threatened to throw him off. To avoid violence and out of interest, I talked to him. He rambled on about Christ, love, sin and hell, incoherently, in an impenetrable accent. And a colleague who believed all the rubbish which makes Evangelicals despised and ridiculed by reasonable, thoughtful people- creation less than 10,000 years ago, all that- tried to talk me into it. Fortunately, Christianity made me immune to such stuff.

I am a little worried at myself, shouting at the Internet like this. All that anger. Maybe it’s the election campaign. I would rather a useful outlet for all that energy, and found it in cycling to Swanston this morning: I was happy when I got there, with all that adrenalin used well.

I asked him, Have you any blog posts warning people of the eternal consequences of their choices, apart from gay people? Before he answered, I had a look, finding this insane comment about US Gun culture: God’s kingdom is within us, and the fruit of the Spirit within us are the strength and honor of this country. Self-control, meekness (strength under pressure), longsuffering, gentleness, patience. This is the heart of honor, the heart of the gospel, and the heart of America, that Jesus is developing in each of us. This is the love of God, and freedom worth defending.

This is the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, in right to bear arms. Should free citizens be allowed to own firearms to protect themselves, their families, and this country from enemies within or without. Emphatically, YES! He cites Jesus at the Last Supper, he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one, in support, and starts with a meme calling for armed guards in schools.

He also has a go at abortion, though only by reblogs: it is pre-meditated murder. He whines about the hypocrisy of the pro-abortion folks and the lengths they go to deny a baby is a baby but also says that Christians who have an abortion and repent will be forgiven. So that’s all right, then.

He claimed he had had a go against other sinners, listing ten posts. The first had nothing at all to do with bashing any particular sin, though it did have a vile picture of Christ on the cross covered in blood, and this silliness: Although the Bible says little about his first thirty years, the baby we celebrate at Christmas did not remain a child. Really? Amazing!

So I shout at the internet, and feel ashamed, but he feels he is being Christian and Loving. If it is loving to warn people of Hell, he can shout his hate at those he disapproves for ever, and call it Virtue!

The chief reason for not shouting at the unconverted about their Sin is that it does not work. It does not bring souls to Christ, it alienates them. It does not follow Jesus, who met people where they were with Love not thinly-disguised hatred. The sin will go as Jesus sanctifies the new believer, in His good time. Chris Walsh drives people from Christ.

Goya, fight with cudgels

Righteousness and hypocrisy

Jesus seems quite clear that we cannot be righteous. “No-one is good but God alone“. “If you say ‘you fool’ you will be liable to the hell of fire“. Non-christians might agree that while we can imagine an ideal of right behaviour in all situations, we might not live up to it.

Yet most of us are sort-of OK. We fall below the standard of perfection, we acknowledge it, we try to be and do better. We encourage each other or we point to each other’s sins in a futile game of one-upmanship, seeking an illusory moral high ground. To “I’m OK: You’re OK” Anthony diMello responded, “I’m an ass, you’re an ass”.

Some conservative Evangelical churches welcome divorced and remarried couples. I think Jesus would too. However, Jesus, who tells it like it is, says that “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her,” though when I searched I found that even Google preferred Matthew, with the exception for victims of adultery.

Ideally, people would marry, become one flesh, and live together in mutual supportive love until death parted them. And- some marry unwisely, and some couples grow apart, and sometimes divorce. Finding a partner is a good thing: “It is better to marry than burn” says Paul. Churches now welcome such couples, though they might not have done in the past. Roman Catholics deny them communion, but even some bishops want to change this policy.

Where does this leave gay marriage? Brent White wants to permit remarried divorcees in church, while still telling gay couples to begone. He cites Robert Gagnon, though in that passage Gagnon does not go so far: Gagnon permits divorcees, but not specifically remarried people in church. Two commenters delight in his arguments. They too would permit remarried couples, while excluding gay couples. He is a hypocrite.

If remarried sex is adultery, as Jesus says, nothing can stop it being adultery. Ideally, if the couple repent of their adultery the only course is for them to separate, as their lovemaking will always be adulterous against the wronged first spouse. That is the traditional view of Catholics and Evangelicals alike. However, as I am as much of an “ass” as the remarried couple, I welcome them in church. Remarriage is not Perfect, but is sort-of  OK. Gay marriage is perhaps not perfect, but again sort-of OK.

We can imagine an ideal target- the mother who is never flustered, always loving, always tidy, never a hair out of place- which we fail to reach. One response to my imperfection is to see how often I fall short, and keep trying. Another is to pick on a group of sinners- married gay people, perhaps- and exclude them from church as the Worst Sinners Possible.

Before I sin, that sin is monstrous. After, it is what happened: deal with it and move on. “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”- perhaps we are perfect, just as we are.

Iago

File:Caravaggio - Taking of Christ - Dublin.jpg  Why a picture of Jesus? Because he did what he thought was right, and was always entirely himself- and he got killed for it. I really do not want to draw attention to myself, because it will be hostile.

OK. That makes no sense at all. It is not my experience. At the office where I volunteer, a man gave me a box of chocolates because what I did with him came good. That is grateful, rather than hostile. However it is a reason why I wear a mask.

This maskedness produces a deep self-loathing- I am a coward and disgusting hypocrite.

Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

-“Iago”, Othello, Act i scene i.

Here I am in a quandary. How to be, what to do, now? I do not like this way of being. I do not think it sane or healthy. How may I ameliorate it?

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Here’s what to do:

I asked, How do we take the step? What about- by fearing not taking it more than taking it?

Singingbones replied,

yes, or you could say, by taking yourself firmly in hand and finding the courage inside to do the thing you are fearing. Once I was about to do something which I wanted very much, and also feared very much. I couldn’t sleep that night, and called a wise friend to ask for advice. She told me to imagine the worst thing that could happen if I went ahead and did the thing. And once I could see through my fear all the way to the end, I saw how it was a huge illusion that I was fearing. That was good advice which I have used many times since.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? There is a far greater threat from not taking a risk than facing it. As she says, “Life is challenging and constantly demanding courage, forgiveness and patience”. What she says is simple, and with my learning style I still benefit from her giving a concrete example. And “see through the fear all the way to the end” is beautiful.

So that is what to do. Take risks. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

However, a variation. I am going to respect the depth of the problem, and the courage I have shown so far in facing it. I am going to celebrate the risks I have actually taken, and those which I take- for I habitually discount any virtue in myself, and I need to acknowledge the virtue. The steps I am taking are the steps I am taking. I have the time to take them in.