In light of the Supreme Courts events happening this week to determine the rights of marital equality, I wanted to share this excerpt from my friend Jimmy Spencer Jr’s book Love Without Agenda. I think this chapter is so applicable to Christians, especially those who are debating marital equality with other believers and finding animosity and rejection for their beliefs. Jimmy generously let me share it here. I hope you will take the time to read and consider:
You may be getting the distinct impression that I don’t believe in an objective and absolute truth in life. I just want to share a few lines about truth and it’s nature. I share it now because I believe that people reading this with critical minds...probably need to hear these thoughts now, or they will just stop reading and dismiss me.
Truth is absolute and objective.
Truth is out there.
As a Christian I believe Jesus represents truth.
I build my life around what He did and said.
I am convinced that I am right.
Just like I am sure you are convinced that you are right.
But is being right—and having the right truth—is that enough?
It is not a question of whether I can find the truth of life. In many ways that seems to be a preliminary question for me. The question I have found more concerning and more telling is this:
“Now that you have found the truth, how will you use it?”
I have found that there are generally two answers people live out in response.
Option 1: I use truth to advance an agenda of coercing the people around me to think, act and believe like me. I use truth to distinguish between allies and enemies. I use truth to brow beat people and prove that I am right. Truth gives me the right to speak into people’s lives, regardless of their willingness to participate. Truth gives me the right to advance my agenda of conforming the world around me to my image of what is right and good. Truth is my weapon against others. Truth is the growth engine for my agenda.
Option 2: I use truth to advance a deep and profound purpose for my personal life. Truth is a weapon, intended to be used on myself to help me understand what it means to be human. If this truth is attractive to others, I’ll freely and gladly share it with them. Truth gives me the freedom to love others because that is who I am. Truth sets me free. I conform myself to Truth in the hopes of growing closer to God and others. Truth illuminates other’s values and calls me to respect their opinions and beliefs.
Again, for me, a person who chooses to live out option #2—being right and good is a matter of how you choose to use truth in life.
Truth, while absolute, is a weapon to be used on ourselves—not to advance our brand of religion. When we use truth to set forth agendas, bad things happen.
This use of truth has historically warped Christian’s ability to see other humans thru the compassionate eyes of their Creator. It sets the stage for a low theological and practical view of people. Because our truths trump other people’s value.
Others’ value becomes tied to their accepting of our truth. This blinds us to the inherent value God gives them.
It gives theological license for Christians to see other humans through critical and condemning eyes. These assumptions encourage Christians to overstep their place as humans.
Little patterns struggle with this...
It flows from our not being whole anymore.
We co-opt the idea that, since Jesus was truth and we believe in Jesus, then our agenda must be good and true. We twist truth to fit our agenda, giving us free reign to do some nasty things in the name of Jesus.
Christians step out of their pattern by doing this.
Christians sin by doing this.
This religious slight of hand allows us to open the door to some of the most damaging, egregious, and sinful behavior in humanity. It gives Christians license to hate and kill others because we have Truth on our side.
It conveniently makes us, as Christians, the sole discerners of what is and what is not sin.
We make ourselves judge, jury, and executioner.
We attempt to supplant God.
This is how we get the Salem Witch Trials.
This is how John Hus dies.
In the end, the use of truth like this has one overarching message.
People are not most important to God.
Being right is most important to God.
Crushing sinfulness is most important to God.
People, because they carry sin, have become the enemy of God.
This opens Pandora’s Box.
This re-enacts the Garden of Eden events:
Where people go astray of their intended purpose and Christians willfully grasp for power and details God doesn’t extend.
Christians feel entitled to become the discernment police.
All in the name of Truth.
We have to move beyond our petty bickering over theological minutia if we hope to pattern our lives after Jesus. Jesus took no part in this type of Truth War. This practice of policing people’s thought and beliefs may be the most damaging and unloving thing that we do in our lives. It’s unloving to both Christians and non-Christians. Smashing other Christians because they only believe 85/100 things that you believe is simply not in the pattern you were designed to imitate.
I have news for you...
People are watching.
People take notice.
When we as Christians verbally firebomb one another, people who don’t understand what it means to ‘be Christian’ assume that our actions are a reasonable way of defining it.
We smear the way of Jesus in the name of protecting our pet truths.
We crush one another in the name of advancing our flavor of Jesus.
This is a giant flaming sign that we haven’t learned that God loves us.
We still think that God loves only us.
It’s much of this bickering, agenda, and arrogance that causes people to fear and loathe Christians. We simply don’t act like Jesus—while yet defending truths about Jesus.
We can aspire to a higher Truth.
We must aspire to a higher Truth.
Jimmy is the found of Love Without Agenda, a non-profit dedicated to mobilizing and maximizing community service at the local and global level. You can buy his book here . . . all proceeds go to his charity dedicated to helping people in neighborhoods who serve their neighbors.