Letter: Stop judging and start loving

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[On a recent] Saturday evening, I was visiting the downtown area for dinner and a local production at a theater. As we strolled through the downtown area, we could hear shouting. It seemed to get louder and louder. As we approached, we noticed that there was a Pride event being held there. The shouting was because there was a gentleman there with a speaker giving his interpretation of God’s word, along with some editorializing that was very unpopular to those in attendance:

“Your lifestyle is a sin and an abomination to God,” [and] “Your perverse lifestyle is making you sick and your children sick. We don’t want it to spread to the rest of us.”

One or two decided to shout back, trying to yell over him with loud boos or debates that were their own feelings on the subject.

It saddened me to see this. I myself identify as “gay.” I also identify as a Christian. Like many Christians, I have inner conflict based upon my life and the teachings of the Bible. Like every other person on this Earth, I am a sinner. I strive to live my life the best that I can, but I falter. I have sin in my life.

One such sin would be homosexuality, according to the Bible, specifically Leviticus, Chapter 18. This [letter] is not a debate on the Bible. I am just pointing out several things that the Bible says. Sometimes people pick and choose what applies to them and what doesn’t. For the sake of continuity, all verses referenced within are from the New International Version.

I have been told by several in the church that my sin of homosexuality is different than other sin because I am doing it every day, knowing that it is a sin. Some believe that sin is sin, and that one sin is as bad as another, possibly referencing James 2, 10-11: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” Others believe in degrees of sin, just as there are degrees of punishment. Homosexuality seems to be the sin that many focus on as the sin that will keep you from heaven, with varying reasons why.

There are those who study religion and proclaim that many verses in Leviticus are only directed at Israelites and others at the people as a whole, for instance, clean and unclean foods. Leviticus Chapter 11 (NIV) begins: “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.’’”

“Say to the Israelites” seems to be the key wording for those who believe it only applies to the Jewish faith. Many of the chapters of Leviticus reference telling the Israelites. When it comes to the chapter regarding sexual perversion and unlawful sexual relations, how does it begin?

Leviticus 18:1-5: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.’’”

Speak to the Israelites and say to them? What about the rest of the world? Everyone seems to glean from this what they wish, but if it was only meant for the Jewish people, does it apply to all man? For those who say yes, then shouldn’t the other laws also apply to all men? Eating pork, rabbit, anything living in the water that does not have fins or scales (shellfish)?

Or in Chapter 19 when it states, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them … Do not lie. … Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight. … Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. …Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. …When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

How are we watching this applied today in our country? Are we all guilty of these sins?

What I watched in the park [recently] was saddening. Neither side was “right,” yet both were compelled to shout their version of the truth.

In the end, let’s stop judging one another and start loving one another. 1 Peter 3:8 states: “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

God is love. Jesus is quoted in the Bible (John 13: 34-35) as saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

— Scott Pierson
Arden

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10 thoughts on “Letter: Stop judging and start loving

    • Lulz

      LOL that’s because in the process of murdering 50 million, he sought to make the state holy and he himself God.

      • J

        It’s just too obvious that Conservatism is the relentless search for moral justification for selfishness.
        I mean really; the christian right has a COW When Michelle OBAMA showed up sleeveless to a stare dinner; A silent On trump who’s wife posed nude for playboy; has 5 kids w/3 different wives…. their hypocrisy is nauseating

    • Phillip C Williams

      Ah, I see. You lived in China during Mao’s time then, did you??

      • J

        What does me having ever lived in china have to do with anything? Are you suggesting that anyone who lived under his oppressive rule; didn’t agree with ANYTHING he said…?
        Mind in a box much…?

        • Phillip C Williams

          Not suggesting anything…I simply wondered whether you’d personally experienced Mao’s regime at any point. Or if you might have been a native or resident of China.

          You quoted him with what seemed like admiration – at least for his atheism….so easy to misinterpret “tone” on social media – for me, anyhow. My apologies if I upset you.

  1. Mack Dennis

    What a kind letter, Scott. If you’re not a member of a church already, I’d love for you to visit First Baptist Church of Asheville. You’ll find beloved community here, and a welcome place to be your true self.

    • Richard B.

      Amen to Mr. Dennis’ comment.
      Mr Pierson has remained true to his Principle of the headline…to Love not Judge.
      A most effective, cogent, and educational synopsis of relevant passages from the Bible. This thoughtful commentary concerns not only homosexuality, but is also a lesson in bringing ancient scripture to meaningful understanding through the lens of our present culture and religious beliefs.

  2. Peter Robbins

    The letter calls into question the wisdom of assuming that the Bible is either authoritative or consistent. If we treated it as what it is — an anthology of ancient literature wherein diverse writers from different eras argue with one another, emphasize different points and often make mistakes — we would be better off. Less certain but better off.

  3. Meredith Hunt

    Jesus is clear which laws in the “Old Testament” are superseded and which are not. The laws on sexual behavior and practice were not, and actually were amplified to bear upon not only outward actions, but hidden thoughts as well.

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