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Christians: Do You Remember How To Love?

Jeff Linamen

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This blog was extremely difficult to write. In a way, it is my response to the recent polarizing Chick-Fil-A controversy and heated religious debate over the 2012 presidential election. My intent in writing this was not meant to be accusatory but instead, a challenge to those that read it. –JL

I have only one question for all the self-identified Christians of the world: “Do you remember how to love?

I was raised on the Christian faith. For most of my first 18 years, if the church doors were open– my family was there. Yet, I was taught to believe interracial dating and marriage were wrong, homosexuality was wrong (it goes without saying that gay marriage was an abomination) and that basically, all other religions and even Christian denominations outside our own — were misguided and most likely would not reach the kingdom of heaven. I was taught Catholics were not true Christians and that the Baptist belief, once saved always saved was a fallacy.

In my late teens, I decided I wanted to change churches and go to my cousins’ church which was charismatic. My Dad was so angered by this decision, he told me I would have to move out if that’s what I chose. So I did. After some thought, he quickly reconsidered and came to the conclusion that as long as I was going to church… it was better than me not going at all and I was allowed to move back in.

Now at the age of 49, I am coming out as Agnostic. I’m not sure what to believe.

From my earliest childhood memories, I was taught to ‘Love one another‘. The Bible verse, one of many that repeat this phrase, comes from John 13:34:

I am giving you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (International Standard Version)

In preparing this blog post, the phrase ‘and the greatest of these is love‘ kept sticking in my head. So I had to look it up. The verse reads:

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, New Living Translation)

I was taught love the doer not the deed. Love the sinner not the sin. That’s Unconditional Love.

But where has it gone?

It is supposed to be the goal of all Christians to not only lead by example but also to witness and bring the hope of Christianity to the whole world. What I’ve seen in my lifetime, is the growing desire to create laws and alienate people that do not subscribe to the same belief system as those of the Christian faith. How is that demonstrating unconditional love? The gay rights movement is not about receiving special benefits above those of others. It is about seeking equality. Equality that is prevented by unnecessary laws created by Christian lawmakers in an effort to secure special rights for themselves and in effect, taking away the rights of others.

Marriage Equality is a legal issue, not a religious one. No one is trying to force churches to recognize, perform or accept marriage ceremonies in religious terms. Laws make marriage a legal contract and give many special benefits to married partners not available to unmarried couples. Tax breaks, issues over property ownership and healthcare are all brought into play. The Christian right campaigns and preaches against marriage equality because they believe it weakens the very definition of marriage and somehow impedes on their rights. It has become a hateful game of morality vs. legality… and exhibits anything but unconditional love.

This might be a good point to remind you that the origins of marriage were actually based on a man’s declaration of ownership of a woman. Marriage was not originally based on a religious contract with God.

The staggering divorce rate in our county is at 60% among those without an expressed religious affiliation but is still a huge 38% among those identified as practicing Christians. Maybe Christians could focus more on counseling and nurturing couples through those difficult times, sharing love and support with those that need guidance, instead of blocking loving partners from legally committing to one another.

The alienation that Christians are creating in the name of protecting their religious beliefs is having a devastating effect on the moral and religious fiber that was once tightly woven into our society. People are being driven away. Hate and fear is replacing love.

Religious Differences. The Religious Right has continued to accuse our President of being Muslim despite his identification as a Christian believer. They see that as a threat and fear that any religion unlike theirs, challenges their existence. Our country protects all religions and provides for their freedom to worship. The Christian proclamation that theirs is the only true religion is yet another example of hate and divisiveness in our country. More than ever, we need unity, compassion and acceptance.

Fear-Based Christianity has replaced the Christianity based on love and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

So where is the love? The saying goes, You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  In that case, why are so many Christians so bitter? If only Christians could return to the basic concept of loving their neighbor instead of fearing them, there might actually be a chance of a Christian resurgence in America.

All  you need is love.


3 Comments

  1. Ada Carlson says:

    I love and with open heart and open mind. I fear sometimes the language many choose to make a statement or to justify does not always come across the way it is intended. I love ALL Gods people and creatures. Many like me do also I call myself a Christian although “Roman Catholic” to be correct. I fear those in public office often hyjack a cause by language only twisting it and turning it on its head to create a divide for a selfish purpose and never with a compromise in play. Playing on the hearts and emotions and knowing all along this will create a problem. I am for equal rights for each and everyone under the law. The word marraige is a biblical word though so why redefine a religious word? I do not disagree with some of your definition of marraige but your definition Jeff is not what I have been taught all my life. A marraige is 2 becoming 1 to create another. In my culture and my religion marraige is a Holy Sacrement held in high esteem to procreate and prosper is what I have been taught.
    I am so sad you feel Christians do not Love, I believe Chrstians love and are more patient than any other religion (not fanatics of course). I feel as Christians we have been so tolerant we have lost many of our religous traditions here. If I am not mistaken it is one of our precious freedoms. I believe there must be a way to provide all that is fair with compromise which if one speaks to many Christians we all agree please do not change our definition to create a new one just because it seperates a voting class. We want equal civil rights, civil unions between 2 people who love each other and create families together. I just do not think that my religous beliefs should be judged or come into public light for anyone to belittle.
    I love you and hope you see where some of us Christians come from not a dark place at all really LOVE and Peace for everyone. To live together without stomping out one belief over another.

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  2. ShantiOm says:

    Hi Jeff – thank you for this post. I understand how it is hard to write about these topics without being divisive or anti someone. I struggle with this also and I think you did a great job. I only felt your sincerity, no anger. I totally agree with you. And if Catholics want to think of marriage as a sacrament in their church, then that is great. In my church, marriage is about two people loving each other and wanting to commit themselves before God – and that applies to ALL couples. So, my church definition of marriage is different than the catholic one. So I also have the freedom to practice my religion in this country and that means marriage equality, not civil unions separate but equal treatment for gays or lesbians. Each church can decide for itself what it wants to do within the church. For the government, I find it absurd that there is even a question if all people should have equal rights or not!! Everyone should have the same rights, period. How could this even be a question at this point? And I totally agree with you – LOVE is what Christ taught. LOVE is what Christ is still teaching and holding for ALL of God’s Children. It is very sad to me when anyone teaches hate or anger or prejudice or mistreatment in the name of Christ. I love Jesus with all my heart and all my soul – and I know He loves unconditionally.

    Like

    • jlinamen1229 says:

      Thank you so much for your response! I’ll actually be writing a little more on this in an upcoming Pt 2 of my Justice posts. It’s so unfortunate that man has no calms interpreting what God intends.

      Like

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