Late Night Theology, Brought to You by Facebook Chat

I’m working on some more reflections from the Wild Goose Festival, but in the meantime, here’s a convo I had with my dear fiancee this evening. Errors have been preserved, although names have been changed. I apologize for the crappy formatting, I couldn’t get wordpress to separate the lines more clearly for some reason. It started like this:
My fiancee (B) posted the following status:
” ‘Unless your worldview loves all of humanity, it doesn’t represent the creator of all of humanity.’ – Donald Miller.
I agree. Now let’s show more love to believers of non-Christian religions, gay people, immigrants, atheists and agnostics.”
One of his uber-conservative friends posted this response:
“Love is not love if sinners ate not told that repentance is possible because forgiveness is possible because a loving God paid the penalty for our sin.
The result of being forgiven is not to go on sinning, but to repent.
So, I suspect Miller’s comment sound cool, but may not tell the whole truth.”
And this is what I wrote to B afterward in a private chat:
Me: I’m resisting the urge to write this under [uber-conservative friend’s] response to your quote:
“Which is why it’s so important to point out to self-righteous religious people when their judgment is a stench in G-d’s nostrils, and a plague to their fellow travelers. How else can they repent of the planks in their eyes?”
B:  Well, they are part of that church group I told you about that turned very conservative and rightward. You keep telling me to stop watching Fox News, but I don’t have to, because I get the talking points through them. You can post it if you want, just expect an cranky and unhappy response.
Me: yeah, I know, that’s why I don’t really want to. i’m not in the mood for a catfight.
B:  yeah
if you’ve noticed, i’ve kept myself out of any skirmishes today
i think my little message yesterday helped
Me:  yes, i did notice
your little message?
B:  about not commenting on the presidential electio
it was a disclaimer for me
Me:  ah, now i see it.
i’d missed that one.
B:  now that we’ve experienced progressive christianity, it’s hard to go back to that judgmental sin and shame based faith, eh?
Me: hell yes.
btw, i’m working on my blog piece about stedman – looks like it’s actually going to have to be two blog posts.
turns out i have a lot to say about this.
B:  [uber-conservative friend]’s post REALLY turned me off and if i weren’t a Christian, i’d really think that christianity is the last religion I’d want to practice
as it is, i might already feel that way.
Me:  i completely agree.
i at least don’t want to practice it that way.
which is why i’m still tempted to post that response to his comment, even if it unleashes a firestorm.
just so other people who read the thread will know that that’s not the last word on Christianity.
but i’m still not sure i’m up for a flame war on your wall.
B:  we’re trying to build bridges and really welcome those different from us, and he has to chime in with that?
with ‘friends’ like these who needs enemies?
Me:  right?
B:  any progress i might have gotten with my non christian fb friends was probably lost
Me:  ok, maybe i should post my response then.
B:  maybe you can word it so it’s less provocative
Me:  hehehehe.
B:  still firm but less in your face
know what i mean?
if it turns in to a flame war, i’ll moderate it
Me:  i know what you mean, trying to think how to word it…
B:  i’ll hand out warnings
Me:  hehehe
B:  make sure it stays civil and doesn’t get abusive
but you argued with [uber-conservative friend] before in that complementarian vs egalitarian thread
just keep in mind that it might go the way of that thread
Me: Erg.
i can’t seem to make it less offensive without taking the bite out of it entirely.
B:  but i say you should say what you must
if you can’t change anything, then just post it
Me:  “Yes, exactly, and let us not forget that the only sins that really got Jesus riled up were self-righteousness, judgmentalism, and profiting from religion.”
So therefore, brothers, let us exhort one another not to be prats.
B:  hehe
Me:  is that less inflammatory, or the same?
B:  still inflammatory
Me:  dang.
what if I change it to “giant prats”?
B:  lol
i was just going to say that love we show the non-christians should not be conditional
only if you repent
that’s not love
Me:  that’s a much nicer way of putting it.
you should write that.
B:  only if you remove your sin
that’s not love
Me: i also just feel like the huge emphasis on sin takes away the emphasis on love.
not that the idea of sin is unimportant, but it’s hardly the main component of the message [and I feel like it’s a largely misunderstood concept, so we should just stop using that word entirely because it’s so loaded, but that’s a whole blog post in itself. Maybe several blog posts].
B:  yup
but for righty evangelicals, it is the main message
Me:  and to your idea, the “christian” response is “but we don’t only love you if you remove your sin, it’s the love that enables you to overcome your sin”
the effect, though, is still to keep the focus on someone’s self-improvement rather than on the story of fierce love.
B:  another thing: i thought that [uber-conservative friend]’s post was irrelevant for atheists and agnostics. they don’t believe in God, so they don’t believe they need to repent
heck, i believe in God and most of the time i don’t think i have to repent.
Me:  oh i don’t know – i felt the need to repent as an atheist – there are things every person does that they’re not proud of.
B:  well, i’m talking about the repentance in the mind of the conservative chrisitian
Me:  but this whole framing misses the larger meaning of repentence anyway, which is to “turn around” – it essentially means to have an “aha!” moment and break through into a new viewpoint.
not just to stop doing certain specific behaviors that others have deemed inappropriate.
B:  it’s about changing your path
Me:  exactly.
B:  another thing that bothered me was that [uber-conservative friend] was making the assumption that to love these people one has to proselytize them.
i’m thinking no, we just have to love them where they are right here, right now.
Me: hear, hear.
Since when does loving someone mean exercising thought-control over them?
B:  yeah
well, hence why so many of [a mutual friend’s] old friends can’t be friends with him now
Me: what’s the phrase – when you love someone, you have to set them free?
it’s so sad.
and really, they’re the ones who are trapped.
they don’t even realize they’re prisoners.
B:  they can’t be friends with him as long as they feel that they have to change him and they feel he has to comply
Me:  yeah.
B:  that’s also the name of a song by sting
Postscript: I’m SO glad I’m marrying this person.


Filed under personal, religion, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Late Night Theology, Brought to You by Facebook Chat

  1. Inspiring window into your lives/conversations. Thank you for letting us in. I can’t wait to read your piece(s) on Stedman!

  2. Meghan asked me to post my comment from the above-referenced facebook status convo … (thanks! 🙂 ) … here it is:

    Hmmm. It seems to me that one of the big things in question here is “love” …

    I disagree that love requires judgment. (And from everything I’ve experienced — both inner and outer — pointing out another’s sin, evangelizing, requires judgment.)

    I can absolutely share my opinion with a beloved friend about what’s right for them, and doing so can be a very loving thing. But I do not believe that it is love to insist that they agree. For one thing, it’s entirely too possible that I am wrong about what’s right for them. For another, I am not their keeper. (My kid being somewhat an exception of course, heheh… altho a diminishing one as she gets older…)

    To frame it in a Christian theological context: is not the idea of free will birthed from great love? Personally, I think the immensity of God is limited by binding that idea into a box of sorts that says “you humans must behave a certain way in order to be worthy of salvation. And, by the way, you are charged with telling each other about that certain way.”

    I know there are scripture quotes that can be used to refute what I’m saying.

    And I also know that I would much rather that those people who are righteously judging (judging me as a gay person, judging non-Christians, judging universalist Christians, etc.) would change their behavior… which means I am judging them. I get it. /sigh… Sometimes I can leave them be, even when they wound me… and sometimes I choose not to.

    PS — all quotes fall short of “the whole truth.” Frankly, I believe that the whole truth is far bigger than we can imagine.

    • Yes – THIS was the non-inflammatory expression that I was searching for. And I really appreciate that you mentioned the irony of being aware that in calling for others to not judge, I am judging myself. :/ LOVE YOU MINDY!! I’M SO GLAD WE’RE FRIENDS!!

  3. ME TOO! 😀 😀 😀 😀

  4. I told some conservative Christian bloggers that I would prefer Hell to Heaven with God and them if they were right about God. They called for my repentance. We were talking past each other.

    And yet I think I could seek to encourage anyone who talked to me about her path, and tell of my path if she wished. Any more than that would require me to be quite sure what was best for her, surer than she was, and I don’t think God asks that of me, or has given me the capacity for it.

  5. Shanella

    You missed a name-comment-outing there =)

  6. Pingback: Tolerating intolerance « Clare Flourish

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