We live in such a culture of shame, constantly teaching people to be ashamed of themselves.
It’s bad enough that we teach people to be ashamed of what they’ve done. I know people that had a bad experience 20 years ago – maybe they got caught up in something they shouldn’t have done. But even with their past behind them, people – self-proclaimed followers of Jesus – still throw it in their faces.
The most despicable thing, though is that we stoop to a much lower level, not only encouraging people to be ashamed of what they’ve done, but to be ashamed of who they are. I grew up a nerd. Socially backward, not grasping the finer intricacies of dealing with other people. Not knowing what to do and to wear to fit in. Sometimes I like to think that I understand a little bit of what it’s like to be outcast for who you are. But being a straight white male, I’ll never have any idea of what it’s like to be taught that I am less than for the color of my skin, for my sexual orientation, for my gender.
I got to thinking about this reading one of Rachel Held Evans’s posts, Is Ambition a Sin? It’s amazing how men generally treat women like less. Couched in the language of “equal but different”, it’s just obvious that women are treated as less important than men. We see this every day from the misogyny of that comes from the anonymous Internet, to the fact that one of the worst insults that you can give a man is to call him a woman or suggest he has feminine qualities. We live in a culture – church included; or church especially – that continues to devalue people. This is polar opposite to the way Jesus lived. In his day women were second-class citizen but he treated them equally. The people who broke religious laws were outcasts of society but he treated them with love and kindness.
I just don’t think we’re ever going to make any kind of impression on this world as people of God until we love and accept everyone as equals regardless of whether they are male or female, black or white, gay or straight.
It seems like Paul said something like that somewhere.