A real conversation I had not-so-long-ago with “Harry” (not his real name):
Harry: “So yeah, gay people can’t be Christians. You can’t be a continual sinner and call yourself a Christian. I guess it is okay for gay people to go to church, but they shouldn’t be members or serve or anything like that.”
Me: “Really? You honestly think that I’m not a Christ-follower and should not be allowed to be part of God’s family, use my gifts, and be part of a church?”
Harry: “Well it is not me that thinks that. It is God. It is in His word. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t care who you sleep with. Your issue is with God, not me.”
Besides for the obvious problems with Harry’s argument — for example, that I am not “sleeping with anyone”, that He has no scriptural basis for excluding people with gay orientations from the church community, etc — it seems to me that the greatest problem is that Harry is convinced that God is a jerk.
I am always disturbed by the argument (which I hear often) that “It’s not me, it’s Him who is at fault!” In other words, what Harry wants me to believe — and wants to believe himself — is that he (Harry) is actually a good guy — not judgmental, open-minded, accepting, etc — but that God is the one who is judgmental, close-minded and rejecting. In other words, for Harry, God is the jerk.
“I love you and accept you as you are,” Harry says. “It is God who rejects you.”
“If it were up to me, you’d be fine… but God is angry with you.”
“I’m a good guy. Your issue isn’t with me (or my church) but with God.”
Conservative Christians like to blame God for their own judgementalism, close-mindedness and rejection. Just like atheists like to blame God for poverty, starvation and war. Both groups are wrong. It is people who are cause of all of this: judgementalism, close-mindedness, rejection, poverty, starvation and war.
We are the jerks. Not God.
That is a theological truth that is important to remember.
And another one: DON’T MAKE GOD INTO A JERK TO JUSTIFY YOUR OWN JUNK.
God is love. His character is good. He personifies radical inclusivity, irrational and unconditional love, and amazing unmerited favor and grace. Anything that denies these Bible-revealed characteristics of God are heretical.
God is not a jerk. Ever. So stop making him look like one.