Wandering the savage garden…

Repentance

If you tell someone else that they need to repent, you are usually missing something important: the meaning of “repentance.”

I was reading “Christians Must Repent for Devaluing L.G.B.T. People” from the New York Times this morning, and the tone was really sad.

It said that Christians created a world in which LGBT people are worth less than… straight people, I suppose, and bear guilt for that corporately, and should repent.

The author is right, in a lot of ways; Christianity should value all sinners, regardless of their sin, be it murder, robbery, adultery, or any other sin. The Bride of Christ is made of sinners, after all, every last bit of it. None of us are in a good position to judge, except to admonish and exhort in love.

After all, don’t we use “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” as a common refrain? Of course we do – even non-Christians use it, even though they seem to think that it means “the one who wants to throw a stone is a sinner, and the target is innocent.”

But here’s the thing: the target in that story (and in every story) is not innocent. Forgiven, perhaps, but not “innocent.” And Jesus didn’t tell us to ignore the speck in our neighbor’s eye – He told us to remove the log in our own first (implying that after we’ve acknowledged our own flaws, we might be in a place to help address others’ weaknesses).

It’s true that you, dear reader, need to repent… of something, I suppose. (Statistically speaking, it’s quite the safe bet that you’re not perfect in every way.) But for me to tell you that you need to repent, and of what… that’s me judging you negatively, and it demeans both of us.

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