Friday, June 26, 2015

Practicing Love

Today was a pretty big day in America as the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that, moving forward, same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states. Of course, all media outlets are aflutter with this decision, and there is something that I find really interesting about what I've seen today. Normally, I do not post nor comment about social or political issues. There are many reasons for that, but I felt compelled to post today and take a leap of faith in writing what's on my heart, even though I am well aware that it has the potential to make me less popular.

As soon as the news of the decision broke, my phone about blew up with notifications of people posting on social media - so much so that I disabled those notifications because I was going insane! Haha! (Honestly, I have gone for a time not particularly noticing that little vibration sound, but today, I was almost convinced that my phone had become possessed! LOL!)

Then, as is typically the case, all of the major news outlets interrupted their regularly-scheduled programming to feature the President speaking on the ruling in the Rose Garden. So, I watched and more importantly, I listened to what he had to say.  Regardless of your opinion about our President and whether or not you are satisfied with the decisions he has made during his time leading our country, I have to give him this - I actually felt that he gave a balanced speech. I actually felt somewhat encouraging feelings after letting what he said resonate with me.

Then, I saw more social media posts, and I instantly became a bit incredulous. The mass majority of my friends who posted their favorite links about the decision followed up their commentary on the topic with either the words, "Love has won" or the hashtag #lovewon. After perusing either their commentary or the comments on the links that some of them participated in sharing, I found myself actually asking the question: Did love win?

I saw excerpts from the President's speech flood my news feeds and it was interesting to me the portions of his speech that were highlighted. Just like all bodies of speech, passages can be misleading, as they can be bent or angled to support one's point of view. That doesn't mean that it's wrong to do that; in fact, when writing papers in college, that was often the goal - do research, find evidence to support your position, include said evidence, and cite your source. So, I cannot knock people for taking this approach, and I won't. That said, I encourage everyone to listen to the speech in its entirety and to come away with your own emotions rather than just allowing someone else to interpret things for you.

The reason I felt compelled to write this post was simply because of the hatred that I saw take over, specifically to a particular group of people. It may surprise you to learn that the particular group of people who were on the receiving end of the majority of these remarks, memes, and commentary were not members of the LGBT community.  So, again, I ask the question: Did love win?  Does that type of behavior further the cause of love? Based on what I saw, I am compelled to say, "no."

Here is a portion of the President's speech that I, personally, felt convicted to share.  It's definitely not been as widely circulated, so maybe you missed it if you didn't actually tune in, and feel free to pass it along if you feel so led.





I can wholeheartedly agree with our President in regards to his statements here, and I hope that some people in my newsfeed will choose to go back and watch the entire speech and consider changing their approach.

You see, in order for love to actually win, it must be practiced.
By everyone. 

Love doesn't generalize. Love doesn't condemn. I know that some members of a particular group of people have chosen to show the opposite of love to the LGBT community, and in turn and retaliation, some members of the LGBT community have chosen to show the opposite of love back. The word that we ALL need to focus on in the statement before this one is some. Today was a huge win for the LGBT community, and what did I witness multiple times from people in my circles once they made a major stride towards the right to love they are seeking? Hate. The main argument I saw (and have seen in the past, as well) that made me sad is that because all Christians are hateful and offensive and intolerant towards them, retaliation is the only logical option. Well, as much as I hate to drop a bomb on an argument, here goes nothing:

I am a Christian. I love the Lord and yet, I don't hate you.

The unfortunate thing is that some of you spent so much time and effort constructing the perfect argument to destroy all Christians on social media and I just undid your argument in two sentences. I'm sorry for that because I hate wasted effort. But, sorry, I am not sorry for loving you.

I love the Lord. The Lord loves me back. He also loves you, regardless of whether you are gay or straight. He loves you whether or not you believe in Him. He loves you whether or not you choose to follow Him. He loves you, and so do I.

But, you ask, "How can you be a Christian and love gay people?" Easy. Because God loves gay people and He blessed me with a multitude of gay people to love, too. It may surprise you to learn that I have friends from childhood, friends from high school, friends from college, family members and friends of our family who are, in fact, gay.

Guess what? I love them. Why? Because they are more than just gay to me. I don't reduce them to the point of only seeing "gay" when I look at them or talk to them.  I see people. Because they are people. And when they look at me or talk to me, I should hope that they not only see a Christian, but that they should also see a person. I don't generalize an entire group of people or call them names, and I don't appreciate that happening to me either. As the President said today, as Americans, it is important to revere our deep commitment to religious freedom, and that's why I believe this part of his speech is so vital to share! Just as people who follow Christ are called to show love to everyone, not just those you want to love, it stands to reason that Christians, too, deserve that love from others.

I can't make people love me. I know that full well. I can only control what I can control, and that is how I treat others. So, I choose to try to show love as best and as much as I can. I don't always get it right. That doesn't mean I quit trying, though! In order for love to actually win, it must be practiced, so it would do no good for me to say that to you and then fail to practice loving others myself. I love this passage from the book of Luke, because it speaks specifically on putting love into practice, and it directly applies to where we are in this day and age.

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

Wow. Does that not say it all? Not everyone in this world is going to like or agree with every single thing you like or do. We are not all the same. Not everyone in this world is going to be "easy to love." There are difficult people in this world. For every issue you are supremely passionate about (even if you can see no way for anyone to take a different view), there will be another person who will fight to the death in opposition to you. But God calls us who follow Him to be merciful and to love everyone - we don't get to pick and choose who they are, and generalizing isn't logical because we've already established that we are NOT all the same.

Now, as I said earlier, I can only control what I can control. We are not all the same. We don't all agree on everything. I am strong in my Christian faith, but I know that there are plenty of people who do not believe as I do. Some people choose not to believe in anything at all. Some choose to worship other Gods. Some consider themselves to be religious. Some consider themselves to be spiritual. Some will be honest and admit that they have no idea what to believe and they're searching.

For me, here is how I practice love with those people who do not agree with my Christian faith - I just, quite simply, don't hate them. I don't go out of my way to construct arguments against them. I don't get on a soapbox and preach to others to turn away from them. I don't spend my time "stacking my deck" on reasons why their arguments are wrong. I don't publicly protest or shame them. I don't lose my manners and upbringing when it comes to discussions with them. I try my very best to eliminate judgment from my vision and from my verbiage - that's God's job, not mine, and He will judge me just the same as every other person under the sun. I don't walk around like I'm special. I don't try to sell people on why I'm entitled to something. And most importantly, for me, I pray for them. I pray for wisdom and guidance for myself in showing them love.

Here's the challenge for each and every one of us, regardless of our passions:

What if we all tried our best to stop being so offended?

Source

In order to show love to others, we have to lay ourselves down. We have to humble ourselves regularly. That doesn't mean becoming a doormat or giving up what you believe, because the act of laying yourself down for another is not a concession or a weakness - it takes an incredible amount of strength! Look, I get it - the literal fact is that it's hard to hug someone who comes out of their corner swinging like a UFC fighter, but as for me, I'm called to love people. Whether or not they accept that love isn't up to me because it isn't about me. It's about them, but it's also about Him. Until we all choose to start practicing love (or to pick it back up again after taking a hiatus), then and only then does love actually have a chance to win.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances - See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.DPcoPnQi.dpuf
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.DPcoPnQi.dpuf
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.DPcoPnQi.dpuf

3 comments:

  1. I too choose to LOVE..and thanks Caitlin for sharing your heart... Our God goes to extremes to redeem.. Because of. LOVE!

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    1. Thank YOU so much for not only reading this post, but for being kind enough to comment! I love receiving comments and I love even more that you choose to love, too! Keep up the good work!!!

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  2. Well said, I can tell the President's speech was balanced towards respect for LGBT community but also respect the deep beliefs of the religious community!! Our job as fellow believers is to love without judging but doesn't mean we compromise Truth either! Love your opinions on the historic decision!

    Ursula aka Blueridge Beauty

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