Us Against Them

There is a little trick that pastors use quite often that I call “Damn the Sinners.” It is simply telling about how bad the world is by talking about 1 of the 2 hot button sins: Homosexuality or Abortion. Typically they will rail against these sins to a chorus of Amens. (I don’t care what they say it was Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!). Then they will say something like “I just speak the truth!” Like that justifies everything they just said.

What ever happened to speaking the truth in love? What ever happened to trying to show people that you care about them? Heck, what ever happened to letting the Holy Spirit doing the convicting.

But more than that, what ever happened to speaking the truth on subjects that challenge your church members. It just seems to me like such a cop out to say that Homosexuality is a sin. Get up on your soapbox about gossip, or cheating on your taxes, or about ignoring the poor, or a million other things that you know that people in the audience are dealing with because they are the same things that you deal with.

But pastors don’t do that very often. Instead the stand and rail against THE WORLD, and speak about how bad THEY are. It is such a classic speaker,s trick to get people on your side, and it drives me absolutely crazy.

While we are on this subject, if you are going to throw out as wrong something that no one in the audience feels is wrong you have to sort of back that up. I will never forget hearing Vodie Bauchman speak one time and he was saying a list of people who were tearing this country apart. It was some Hollywood types and such. To each one he would name there would be a chorus of Amens. Suddenly he said “Oprah.” You could have heard a pin drop in that place. We were a crowd full of pastors, men mostly who never really watched Oprah. She was that person our wives watched on occasion. So Vodie went on to explain her ideas of Christianity and some of the things she had said about there being many ways to God.

The thing was, he knew enough to educate us about something, not simple rail against it. Saying that Oprah was a problem wasn’t enough. He needed to tell us why she was a problem.

It is easy to say “That’s baaaaad” like a sheep; it is harder to say why it is bad. It is even harder still to not simply decry things as evil, but speak the truth of them in love.

11 thoughts on “Us Against Them

  • July 17, 2007 at 4:29 PM
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    I tee totally agree with you! Encourage people instead of demean them.

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  • July 17, 2007 at 7:18 PM
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    I agree that we need to hear more about sin and dealing with the consequences. However, we don’t need to shy away from sins such as homosexuality. It is a sin! We have some in our church. To not let them know it is a sin, would be wrong on our part. They know we love them and want them to continue to attend. However, they also know that we can’t throw that part of the Bible away that lists it as a sin. We don’t need to focus on just this one hot issue…but, we don’t need to ignore it either.

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  • July 17, 2007 at 7:46 PM
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    umm..I started to leave a smart aleck remark, then I got to thinking..and this is what I believe and teach, "God’s knows a person’s sins, that person knows their sins, the Holy Spirit knows his job and that all that matters." I will teach about sin being wrong, but how is homosexuality any different than being obese? or Adultery different than stretching the truth. A sin is a sin is a sin. But God has not called us to judge but to a ministry of reconciliation.

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  • July 17, 2007 at 7:49 PM
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    Hate the sin love the sinner. That is what God does!

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  • July 18, 2007 at 3:58 PM
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    Slightly off topic, but still relevant to the discussion, without aiming this at any previous comment or commenter in any way….

    Do we love the unrepentant sinner so much that we accept them into the fold? Can they attend church with us? Take communion? Become a member in good standing? I was accused the other day of belonging to a church that isn’t as ‘accepting’ as the accuser’s church. When I inquired as to specifics on that, I was told that they have homosexual members in their church, and that there is no call to repentance and no church discipline taken. My accuser was correct in this instance, we wouldn’t allow them to be members of our church.

    Where’s your line?

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  • July 18, 2007 at 4:09 PM
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    my question to that is, do you allow drunks, lairs, fat folks, people who don’t tithe, etc. in to be members? A big problem with the church 2day is that we select which sins we will allow and not allow to enter our doors. Not to start an argument or long chain, but what is the real answer? Love them all! Embrace them all! And let God change them all!

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  • July 18, 2007 at 5:52 PM
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    Wow! You have got me to thinking Daniel! That was a very good point. We do live in a society that decides or rather picks and chooses which sins are to be looked down upon and what sins are to be ignored and looked over.

    We need to learn to eat the whole roll don’t we? I see no problem with these people sitting in our santuaries, because this is where God intended for them to be…remember he didn’t come to call the rightous but he came to call the sinners to repentance.

    The world is sure not going to offer them hope. I think that if they are sitting there than they probably are aware of their sin don’t you? No need to exclude them or demean them every service. Why not let God do the convicting?

    I do however have a problem with someone who has not made any effort to come to repentance teaching my children. I also have a problem with them leading in any kind of way. There are two kinds of people those who have repented and want to change and are trying to change and then there are the one’s who sit there week after week never making a move for God and still expecting for him to use them.

    No one is perfect and that is where God’s grace and mercy take over, but rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. It is an abomination to God and we should be offended at it. We are told to shun the very appearance of evil and it is important that the world see the church standing up for what is right. We also have to do this in love and that is where prayer comes in.

    We need to remember what the word says…"and such were some of you" We have to love them, better yet we are commanded to love them. Jesus would and does!

    WIth that said I am done! God bless you all!

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  • July 20, 2007 at 9:53 PM
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    I can’t believe I have waited so long to jump into this conversation. 2 quick things.
    1) If I were on the "hate the sin love the sinner" side of things and what you were calling is sin is my choice of wife I might have some real trouble believing that you love me. (Shane, I hate who you have chosen to love, but I love you). I’m not saying that we suddenly need to change what is right and wrong I am saying that we have to find words to express right and wrong that don’t make people run from us.

    2) I think we should institute church discipline again. I am all for a covenant based congregation. But I would say that for the first 5 years the only sins that you could be disciplined for are sins that most Christians act like don’t matter.
    a. Gossip (nothing destroys a church faster)
    b. Chronic Absenteeism (We need you to be present)
    c. Not being involved in some sort of ministry (You have a gift! Use it!)
    d. Negative Attitudes
    c. (and this one is sort of a joke) Ever saying the phrase "We’ve never done it like that before" or "That’s the pastor’s job"

    I think if we started with those sins then we would have a leg to stand on when we started talking to people about cleaning up their lives. (and we would also have a much healthier church)

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  • July 22, 2007 at 6:51 PM
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    I totally agree with you, Shane. I’ve seen how ‘pick and choose’ Christianity ruin close relationships in Christ’s family more than once. And that went both ways…picking and choosing what is the bigger sin and picking ON the sinner. And I think that is where the problem lies. If someone comes to a church, looking for love and acceptence as the BIBLE has promised them, and then they are pointed out as the dreaded sinner within our midst, how can they possibly feel love and accepted by God? If we, as God’s soldiers, are flinging mud ,however well-meaning it may start off being, eventually that person is going to feel allienated, accused, different, bad, unworthy, the list goes on. And more times than not, the good Christians end up doing more gossiping about the person than trying to lead them to a holier life. And more than likely, being human, the pointed out sinner will get angry and turn away from the church and from God. So how does that further Christ’s cause??

    I have had the same thought as you, Shane about what if someone, much less an entire religion, hated my relationship with my husband. It’s a scary thought to ponder.

    I am in the camp of letting the Holy Spirit and God’s own word do their job. Teach without accusation. Love without conditions. Pray for them and with them. And as relationships build in the church, the Spirit and God will bring about oppurtunity to help them. In other words…Have a little faith. ;-)

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  • August 15, 2007 at 12:14 AM
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    There is a book of poetry called "Sinner’s Welcome." It is about the author’s journey to faith and she found her church by going to the one with a literal banner out front that said "Sinner’s Welcome." And get this, they actually meant it! Fantastic.

    To answer Andy’s question, where do you draw the line? The answer is where Jesus did, and that is really to say there isn’t one. Jesus spent his time with the outcasts. I’m sorry to say, but if Jesus was walking around on earth ministering now, I don’t think he’d spend a lot of time in churches that shun people for various sins because he got really annoyed with the people who thought they were so righteous. I do think he’d really enjoy a "sinner’s welcome" banner though.

    Also, Jesus didn’t seem to think so much of the huge rule book that is contained in the Old Testament, so why do so many people today put so much emphasis on the O.T. and not as much on the New? We all pick and chose when it comes to O.T. rules. Thank God for grace and mercy. Amen.

    Reply

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