Monday, April 4, 2011

Just Another Pharisaical Monday

Mondays in the church world are generally quiet. With pastors working throughout the weekend, many of them observe a Sabbath day on Monday. My Monday church duties include updating the sermon podcast and our Facebook page, inventorying and ordering kitchen supplies if needed, fielding simple phone calls, sorting the weekend mail and (on the first and third Mondays of each month) listening to the banter of the two retired gentlemen who set up chairs and tables for the food pantry and medical clinic. 

Unlike most people, I savor Mondays.

One peaceful Monday morn the phone rang. Easy-peasy, I thought. But the caller on the other end had a question for which he wanted a specific answer.

“I drive by your church all the time and see tons of people there. Is it a normal Christian church?”

I began a general answer, encouraging a visit and a chat with the pastoral staff when the caller interrupted. “Are you a member?”


“Maybe you can answer this then: What is your stance on homosexuality?”

{insert gong sound}

I tried to think of a well-balanced, truthful, loving answer. Thinking back to past sermons and our statement of faith, I couldn’t formulate a thought. Lines from Coffee Shop Conversations and How to Argue Like Jesus pinged and ponged in my brain as a year or two passed, the caller still holding on the line. Ever the PR-minded people-pleaser, I relented, “That would be a great topic to discuss with one of our pastors…”

He interrupted again, “The answer I’m looking for is that homosexuality is an abomination before God.”

Oookie doke, then.

The caller didn’t want a returned phone call from a pastor or any answer that involved loving people. He wanted his hate toward a particular group of people to be validated by an institution. Thankfully our church teaches the Bible. We are for the love of Christ, not against anyone.
Jesus Displaying Masterful Rhetoric
(unlike the way I answer tough questions)

Sin is sin, but I don’t know of a hierarchy list in the Scriptures. If we’re going by the Ten Commandments, this caller’s question only highlights his own sin. The great commandment Jesus gave in Matthew 22 also implicates the caller’s lack of love.

I am a newer Christian, and not a theologian. There is much I don’t know and more I will never understand about God and his plan, his reign and his love.

I do know:

Jesus protected a woman accused of adultery, then called her out of her life of sin. He always knew just the how to put the self-righteous Pharisees in their place, never fumbling for people-pleasing answers (like someone else I know).

Jesus came to sacrifice himself for the least and the lost. If people could achieve perfection, we would have no need for a savior.

When I draw into authentic relationship with God, the Holy Spirit resides in me and convicts my sin. No one outside a person's relationship with God can judge him.

If we dilute the Bible’s message to tell people what they want to hear, we steer them away from Truth and away from authentic relationship with God.

I have a lot to learn, but in the mean time I’m doing my best to be a representation of Christ’s love.

P.S. The caller called back the next day pretending to be gay, asking if we’d accept him. I told him I’d slide-tackle him at the door. {Only kidding.} 


  1. I love your thoughts Katie... really & truly. And 'new' Christian or not, you turned to what you know holds the absolute fact, HIS word. We are to love, forgive, and return to the cross. No need for crazy theology, hate, or perverse interpretation of the truth.

    The best part: HE wants us all. Every last one of us.

  2. I think sometime people love the sin of hating the sinner while pretending to hate a sin that they might secretly be loving. Sometimes people are just plain mean while claiming to be Christian.


  3. Thanks for the comments, folks.

    Kate, I love that comment about God wanting us all. "Every last one of us." There's a line in the Greg Boyd book I reviewed that says something like, everyone we meet was worth Christ dying for. That's so radically wonderful.

    I think you're right, Stephen. Our own insecurities are easier to cope with when we can point out others' sins. It's that old plank vs. speck thing. :)