Today I stand confused as a Christian in Northern Ireland
Today I stand confused as a Christian in Northern Ireland. I find it so disheartening to see Christians across Northern Ireland attack the supporters of the Ashers court ruling. Firstly, I'll point out that in plain terms that, as a Christian, I am FULLY IN SUPPORT of Asher's determination and courage to stand up for the word of God. And I do disagree with the outcome of the verdict. Everybody has the right to their opinions, and as Christian's we should be given the right to apply the word of God in everything we do. Asher's didn't agree with the message on the cake, and so refused the making of it.There would have been a dozen other bakery's willing to go ahead with the order. As a straight man, I know it is ever ok to discriminate against others, and I do believe that Asher's did not discriminate against the idea of homosexuality, rather gay marriage.The fact it even made it to court is a disgrace in my opinion. BUT, the judge has ruled it, and I have to accept it by law. In reality though, the outcome is irrelevant to me. If an appeal is won by Asher's, so be it.
This is more than a court case.
More importantly however, in saying all of this, what upsets me most and what I CANNOT SUPPORT today is the alienation and displacement of gay people by the Christian people of Northern Ireland. I never am vocal about this sort of thing, and I have toyed with the idea of publishing this, but I felt moved by the hoards of tripe on social media to voice my concerns about this issue. I'm sure a lot of what follows might also be deemed rubbish, but it's something that I have felt throughout this case.
We seem to have been blinded by our own perceived spiritual importance. As Christians, we are God's servants. John 13V34-35 says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Luke 6v37 reads "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven"
Forgive me if I am wrong, but where are these verses being put into practice today? As a kid I was taught in Sunday school to love everyone and to 'Love your neighbour'. Instead of showing compassion and love towards our gay brothers and sisters, we are being very quick to judge and condemn them, exactly what Jesus tells us NOT to do. We are so focused on the Bible's apparent denunciation of homosexuality (which, generally speaking, condemns the act of homosexual sex and not the homosexual themselves) that we are not focusing on Jesus' commands. We pick and choose passages to suit the story. In my following of the case, it was totally irrelevant to me the sexuality of the people involved. It seems to me that too many Christian's are abandoning the simple morals and practices of what it means to be a Christian in an attempt to condemn Gareth Lee and his counterparts.
Christians too are acting like this situation is the most detrimental thing to happen against our faith. Our faith is tested everyday by the devil, whether its by that annoying driver on the motorway that we want to curse at, or the temptation of getting drunk on a night out. And, UN- ashamedly, we all give it. Pornography, drugs, sexual trafficking and abuse are just some examples of the devil working rigorously in our country; how about we fill the Waterfront Hall to pray for the hundreds and thousands of Christians killed each year for their faith instead of to pray for a bakery whose decisions and choices are, in the grand scale of things, trivial. Yes, Asher's battle in court stands for so much more than a message on a cake, but was it really worth abandoning our values and morals that Jesus taught us? Put bluntly, no
Matthew 5v39 reads "But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Instead of seeking vengeance for God today in the wake of the decision, apply this. God doesn't need us to seek vengeance for him; he is powerful and almighty enough to overcome such tribulations. Let us pray for our gay brothers and sisters. Pray that they know the word of God and the love that he holds for them. Pray that they know that God loves them, and that Christians are not set out to discriminate against them. At the same time I am not saying that we should turn a blind eye to attacks towards our faith. On the contrary, like Ashers, go out and actively seek to spread and apply the word of God in everything you do and in every word you say. Jesus told us to do this - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," (Matthew 28v19)
But just remember that before we disagree with the court ruling, (which yes we do have the right to do!) do so in a manner that reflects the love of God and the values he taught us to act out. Think before you comment on Facebook; you might think you're standing up for Christian beliefs, but in fact what you're doing is blindly ignoring every single command that Jesus taught us to do.
Gareth Lee and co,
We love you