I have a little bit of a rant to go off on this morning. When I was thinking about what to link up with Shell's Pour Your Heart Out link, the first subject that came to mind was judgmental Christians.
So first, let me start by clarifying that I'm a Christian. And not a conservative one. I was never a conservative or legalistic Christian before I became involved with my ex, and I never really was one while married to him and attending conservative Christian churches. I have always been far more tolerant and compassionate than elitist and judgmental.
So my rant, really, encapsulated in one sentence, is:
The lengths to which people will go to rationalize being nasty to another person in the name of Jesus just astounds me.
There is precisely ONE example included in the Bible where Jesus flips out and goes off on people in "righteous anger". Even if you're not a Christian, you might be familiar with the story where Jesus gets angry at the people using the temple as a marketplace in John Chapter 2. When he is justifiably perturbed at the desecration of the house of worship, he yells, threatens with a whip, and knocks tables and booths over.
He is confrontational in anger and disdain exactly ONE TIME recorded in all of his earthly ministry.
When Jesus came upon those who were not bahaving or speaking morally, he didn't avoid socializing with them. In fact, he did exactly the opposite, he purposefully approached them, and invited them to spend time with him. Sometimes he didn't even directly address their sin, and when he did, it was gently, and without judgmentalness, coercion, shaming, or verbal attack.
Yet there are SO many Christians who will use that temple marketplace scene to justify their confrontation of anyone speaking or behaving, or believing, in a way that is contrary to their personal convictions.
They will not take the time to inquire gently, listen thoroughly, consider their other person's upbringing, personal journey of faith, or anything like that. They will see one interaction that lasts a few minutes and immediately decide that they MUST say something. That it would be disobedient to their calling as evangelicals if they stayed silent.
And often, they will speak in this arrogant, "I know absolute truth and I am compelled to confront you with your sin in a horrifically judgmental attacking way because I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't tell you how much of a sinner you are" tone of voice.
The absolute disdain they will show, the dripping sarcasm, the hideous lack of gentleness and compassion, it can be just excoriating to a person.
I know because I've been spoken to that way.
What you would have seen on my face, and what I see when I have observed someone being spoken to thusly, what I see is this:
Visible shock, anger, and a mixture of shame and fear.
If the person being attacked defends themselves at all, it tends to be just once. If the attacker doesn't take the hint that they've touched a nerve, the accused simply shuts down out of self preservation. That's what I've done.
I had several conversations like this last summer as I was revealing to my friends that I intended to separate and divorce. Last week, a woman from my previous church came into the store where I work to shop for her daughter.. and I had this same conversation. She heard my overview of why I no longer attend the church, and my intent to divorce, and lit into me right there in the store.
Why did she think she had that right? Who does that, upon hearing that someone is going through a divorce for whatever reason, jumps down their throat and then finishes with "I hope things work out for the best for you, but God hates divorce, and he is the God of miracles. Don't stand in his way!" Someone is in pain, going through a massive life changing experience, and their first knee jerk response is to condemn and force their convictions, instead of saying "That must be really hard, I'll be thinking about you".
These are Christians! Attacking other people, blind to the effect their diatribe is having on another person. And they're blinded because they are so sure they're right that the feelings and thoughts of another person have no value. It just doesn't make any sense to me.
When I've watched a scene like this play out, the accused will answer in one sentence phrases, their voice becoming monotone. They answer when speech is called for, and refuse to defend when asked questions, because they know that there really isn't a point in bothering. Their attacker isn't going to receive what they have to say in response anyway. They just endure until they become able to leave the situation.
It's the equivalent of being verbally abused, in the name of Christianity. Bullied, shamed, judged, unaccepted, unwelcome, and rejected by someone who claims to be a disciple of Christ.
When it's been me on the receiving end of a tirade like this, from someone who simply cannot contain their conviction and must force it upon me, I have ended up repeating in my head "I know they think they're doing the right thing, but Jesus would never speak to anyone that way."
Being in a position to have to repeat that in your head, when someone else is speaking to you in what they think is the name of Christianity.. it's just uncalled for.
I feel better now.