Wednesday, November 15, 2006

WARNING: Highly Opinionated!

This week Elton John made the news by stating he thinks organized religion should be banned because it has encouraged hatred against homosexuals. I'm not sure what you thought about that statement, but I had three main thoughts rushing through my mind. I know it isn't a feel-good inspirational topic, but perhaps I can share my thoughts in such a way as to build up rather than tear down.

My first thought was a quip I've heard my husband say when someone objects to church because they are against "organized religion." He ponders, "Would you rather have UNorganized religion?" Sir Elton said he likes the teachings of Jesus, but he isn't a fan of Christianity. Isn't Christianity the study of Christ's teachings (perhaps in an ORGANIZED way?).

But if you get past that basic question, I have to acknowledge that Elton John has a valid point. Not the part where he wants to ban religion, but that religion has encouraged us to hate people who aren't like us. I've heard the saying, "hate the sin, love the sinner" but to be honest I've read quite a bit of e-mail that sounds a lot like hate to me.

I believe homosexuality falls into the same category of sins as other sexual sins. Expanding that thought further, no sin is worse than another when it comes to the price. There isn't one sin that is minimal enough to not cost Jesus His life. The unbiblical choices I make each day that cause me to rebel against God and His teachings puts me in the same category as a homosexual or a murderer. It's just easier for people to preach about someone else's sins than their own.

The third thought that came to me when I heard Elton John's quote is the part about religion being banned. The term religion as we know it is a practice of tradition passed down from previous generations, based on a set of doctrines regarding how we view God or god (depending on the religion). I'm guessing those who practice religion probably struggle with hating those who do not live by their set of beliefs. But those who take religion a step further, who live a RELATIONSHIP with Christ, spill out love in the same way He spilled out blood for each one of us. Not condoning the sin, but building trust and respect from those who have different belief systems.

Let's not ban organized religion. Let's ban hate. Let's get off of our spiritual high horses and admit our sins break the heart of God just as much as the sins of others. Maybe that's what the Bible means when it mentions we must get the big ol' sticks of wood out of our own eyes before we can get the splinter out of the eye of the one we want to judge. And maybe then, with a clearer focus, we won't want to pick on the other person at all. We will just want to live a life that reflects Christ.

I'm sorry, Elton John. I'm sorry that you have received a message of hate from pulpits and lecterns. But if you read more from the teachings of Christ which you say you believe, you will see just how much He loves you and wants to draw you to Him. Open arms. Open heart.

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