For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39
From the time my children were born I exhorted them to obey as a mantra the title of this article. God is to be our Revelator, not mere man! As Isaiah said, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? — Isaiah 2:22
The scriptures above tell us that nothing can separate us from the love of God to those who “… call upon the name of the Lord”. (Romans 10:13) We are frequently hammered over the head by perhaps well-intentioned people within and without the Church as to how to think and behave in order to be a Christian. Preachers and evangelists frequently bombard us with guilt-inducing sermons designed to make us feel fragile and fallen. Of course, we are fragile and fallen creatures, and that is why the Church is a hospital for the spiritually sick.
One example of seeking to define others’ realty is that on this very day, a Methodist pastor, Rev. Frank Schaeffer, who blessed the union of his gay son’s marriage was told in a “church trial” that he must renounce same-sex marriage or be defrocked as a minister in the Methodist church. This pastor has stated that he will continue to bless same-sex unions, and it’s very likely that he’ll be defrocked by that denomination. This courageous man refuses to let anyone or any institution define his reality for him!
What a travesty that this church would seek to define his reality and punish him for showing love and acceptance to God’s gay children. It is an outrage that bespeaks the loss of credibility to a church that claims to have “open heart, open hands, open doors.” It is attempting to usurp the conscience of Rev. Schaeffer and enact punishment that violates its very stated tenets.
There is nothing that we can do that takes God by surprise! God is not stupid! He has known from the foundation of the world what each of us would do and how each of us would respond to the free gift of His Sacrifice on our behalf. Moreover, He knows us better than we know ourselves!
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down and art acquainted with all my ways. — Psalm 139:2-3
Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! Not even our sins! That’s the Good News of the Gospel!
We even see this type of God’s unmerited favor to us in the Old Testament.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who dealeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who croweth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies… As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressioins from us… For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. — Psalm 103:2-4, 12-14
And that is what we all are: mere dust whom God has inscrutably chosen to use to fulfill His will on this earth.
The easiest way to go astray is to let others, including denominations and other professing Christians, tell us what to think and how to act and, thereby, put us into bondage to their views of the world and their view of how a Christian is to think and act. Clearly, we don’t want to cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble or cause hindrance to the proclamation of the Gospel. Moreover, we are to struggle to live up to God’s will for each of our lives. However, it is a struggle, not an accomplishment. Even the Apostle Paul said that with his mind he served the law of God; “… but with the flesh the law of sin”. (Romans 7:25)
You must not be inauthentic, manifesting seemingly desirable attributes as peace and sweetness when you don’t possess these attributes. God has called us all to be authentic so He can use us as we are and as He and He alone can mature us in the faith. You may solicit others’ advice regarding problems in your life, but if these people love you they will respect your choices, even if they disagree with them.
There has been a long tradition in Catholicism that one’s “informed conscience” trumps any papal pronouncement, Church dogma, and teachings from the Magesterium, or teaching arm, of the Church. There is good reason for this tradition, and that is that in Christianity one size doesn’t fit all. You aren’t a Christian on the basis of what you do as much as you are a Christian on the basis of what you are; what you are is comprised of God’s imputation of His righteousness to you because you trust Him.
Let God have His way with you and never let others define your reality or put you into bondage to their views of the world. Their views may be right for them, but not necessarily right for you.
Some Christians are more mature than others. However, it is God Who does the maturation process within each of usan accomplishment that no human being can achieve. Before we can mature, we must become broken before God; unfortunately, others may likely home in on our frailties and brokennessthe very qualities that God can use to mature us in the faith and enact His will upon the earth.
Therefore, practicing this article’s title will set you free to be more fully used by God!
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. — John 8:36
And LGBT, and all, Christians are free, if we truly internalize the Gospel that Jesus taught and epitomized!
Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society,” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. Maneker also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.