Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My "Reconciliation" meeting is tomorrow.

The time is set, and I am finding it difficult to figure out the words I need to say. The text that follows was originally emailed to a few people in hopes of advice. I have a lot of questions and feelings right now, and I felt like this could make a good blog post as well.

Thanks to the Stuff Christian Culture Likes Facebook page I read this post for the first time today. I especially loved this section;

"My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find somebody, anybody, that’s different      than you.
Somebody that has made you feel ill-will or even [gulp...] hateful. Somebody whose life decisions have made you uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion than you do. Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a criminal past. Somebody who dresses “below” you. Somebody with disabilities. Somebody who lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody without a home.

Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and always be disgusted by.

Reach your arm out and put it around them.

And then, tell them they’re all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell them you lovethem.

If you or I wanna make a change in this world, that’s where we’re gonna be able to do it. That’s where we’ll start.

Every. Single. Time.

Because what you’ll find, and I promise you this, is that the more you put your arm around those that you might naturally look down on, the more you will love yourself. And the more you love yourself, the less need you’ll ever have to find fault or be betterthan others.  And the less we all find fault or have a need to be better than others, the quicker this world becomes a far better place to live.

And don’t we all want to live in a better world? Don’t we all want our kids to grow up in abetter, less hateful, more beautiful world?

I know I do"

While I could just say, "This article is meant for those people at Mars Hill" and not apply it to my own life, the truth is sometimes I can be very guilty of what he says in this post towards people from Mars Hill, "You are anti-gay, anti-woman, or anti-whatever?Well I am anti-you" The answer to hate and judgment is not more hate and judgment, and yet I can find myself there way too easily. 

Do you feel like you are constantly going in between observing and judgment? Do you ever find it hard to not judge (especially Mark and others like him)? How do you keep yourself from judging?  How do we love this way, with people who may attempt to manipulate us? It's such a dangerous place to be, but it feels like the right place to be. I suppose the slippery slope is getting steeper and muddier by the minute over here.

Hopefully all of these thoughts and questions will help me with my, "reconciliation" meeting tomorrow.


  1. Kaelee,

    I have more thoughts on this but am running out the door. I think it is a fine line...I think we need to love the people at Mars Hill, but we must speak the truth in love. If someone is harming or misleading others, we have to call a spade a spade. We can be kind about it...but not judging Mark's behavior is akin to not judging someone who spews garbage about gay people, or another race or...I have wrestled with this too. You can be loving and firm and speak the truth and call BS. Jesus did it all the time.

  2. This is my first time commenting on your blog! Hooray!

    So. Several things. First of all, I like what Sophia said above about calling a spade a spade. I believe there is a difference between making a conscious effort to seek out someone who has different views than you and extend an olive branch to them (so to speak), and telling someone whose views/actions differ from yours so completely that by offering them an olive branch you are compromising your own beliefs.

    Another way of putting it is to use Battlestar Galactica (yes, I am going there). I recently watched the episode where Helo was responsible for a bunch of refugees aboard Galatica. Some of the refugees were a race of people (I can't remember their name) who didn't believe in medicine. Of course they ended up getting sick. Well as it turned out the doctor who was supposed to be treating them was racist and was actually killing them. Helo tried to warn Commander Adama, but he didn't listen. At the end of the show, when Helo had been proven right, Commander Adama looked at him and said (in his deep, raspy voice) "hate and allowing hate are two sides of the same coin." THAT is the point I'm trying to make. While you rightly point out that the answer to hate and judgment is not more hate and judgement, I also don't think that the answer is acceptance and allowance of that hate and judgement.

    This is also my response when conservatives try to call liberals out as hypocrites, saying something like "well, if you're so tolerant, why don't you tolerate MY beliefs?" I don't tolerate your beliefs because I don't tolerate intolerance. In my view (and this is just me) I don't think that being loving and supportive of differences among people includes supporting people who don't support those differences. It's kind of convoluted, but hopefully it makes sense.

    To be clear, I'm not saying that people aren't entitled to their own opinions/ideas, but if someone decides to voice their opinion (which they totally have the right to do because of the first amendment), I have the right to tell them that a) I disagree them them and b) why I disagree with them. I guess what I'm really trying to get across is that you shouldn't feel like you have to be totally accepting of what the people you are meeting with from MH are saying. After all, if you look up the dictionary definition of judgment it simply says "the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions." As far as I can tell, staying away from MH is a VERY sensible decision.

    1. "I don't tolerate your beliefs because I don't tolerate intolerance."

      This seems like an intolerant statement.

      I don't want to get into a big debate here. I'm open to your dialogue however.

      As Aric has mentioned in some of his posts, I think it's difficult for people outside the "church" to understand the "intolerance" of Christians.

      To be extremely simple about it, God hates sin. Jesus died to wash away our sin. Man (Mankind) is sinful. Man repents of sin and submits life to Jesus. Man is saved from the wages of sin, which is death.

      Now, the point that I must clarify is that God hates sin, NOT the sinner. It's hard for many Christians to separate the two because....Man is sinful. I think where people outside the realm Christianity get hung up is they don't understand sin or why something would be considered "sinful". It all has to do with what is written in the Bible, which is the infallible Word of God, according to Christianity.

      It's like if my child throws his bowl of cheerios across the kitchen and breaks something because he's throwing a fit about finishing his breakfast. I still love my kid, but I hate what's he's just done.

      Christians are constantly under a microscope because they're expected to exemplify Jesus, thus perfection. WWJD, right? The problem is, they can't live up to this expectation because they are not perfect. The Christians "perfection" comes from Jesus, whose sacrifice was the atonement for all sins, past, present, and future. There has never been nor will there ever be a perfect Christian. Any Christian will admit that.

      My hope is that you will gain a better understanding of "intolerant" Christians. Some are. It's obvious, but these Christians who cannot separate the sin from the sinner and are just full of hatred, are not who truly represent the mainstream Christian populous. Christianity is about love not hate, but because of "crazies" like the Westboro Baptist Church for example who are not the "norm", all Christians by some are labeled as hating, intolerant, religious zealots.

    2. Andrew - I stand by what I said. I guess it is an intolerant statement, but that's kind of the point. Look, I am totally down with peace, love and understanding. I try and practice that every day. I want to be open and accepting of however people want to live their lives. The one exception to the rule is intolerance. You could say I am intolerant of intolerance.

      The point I am trying to make goes back to what I said in my first post, in the paragraph above the "I don't tolerate your beliefs because I don't tolerate intolerance" sentence. I understand where Kaelee is coming from when she says that the answer to hate and judgement is not more hate and judgement. "I hate you because you hate x (whatever that is)" often doesn't make things better, and in fact can lead to somebody else coming along and saying "well I hate so-and-so, because so-and-so hates this other person, who hates x." HOWEVER, I honestly don't believe that unconditional love all the time for everyone forever is also the answer. If you do that you're never going to stand up for anything. Having morals/ethics means that you believe in some sort of code of right and wrong, and if you see something doing something that you believe is wrong then you shouldn't feel bad about calling them out on it. Again, this is going back to Sophia's point about calling a spade a spade. I don't think that Kaelee should feel bad about judging Mark Driscoll. He is doing things that she feels are wrong and hurtful, so she is taking a stand. She should be proud of herself for doing that, rather than feeling guilty.

      Here's an example: If a school decides to ban bullying, essentially what the administrators are doing is being intolerant of intolerance. They are sending a message to students that says "we will not tolerate (put up with/allow) your intolerance of other students." THAT'S what I mean.

      As for the rest of your post, where you get into stuff about Christianity, I just have a few things to say: First of all, I don't think WBC is at all the norm of modern day Christianity. They are CRAZY, and really are just off in a category by themselves. You're right, they really are just full of hatred, and it's sad. Second of all, I don't especially care what Christianity has to say about sin, because I'm not Christian, and therefore it doesn't apply to me. If I'm understanding you correctly, what you were getting at with the whole sin-vs-sinner thing is basically the concept of "love the sinner, hate the sin." A lot of the time I agree with that sentiment. I don't think that just because a person robs a store (for example) means that they are a worthless human being. What they did was bad, but they're not completely bad themselves. The problem is that that, as someone who is not religious at all, there are things that a lot of religions consider to be sinful that I don't.

      Okay, this is getting rather long, so I think I'll just leave it at that.

  3. Hey Kaelee, I'm a little late in posting this but I thought I'd throw my two cents in.

    Sophia is obviously right when it comes to calling people out: If we saw someone beating up a homeless person on the street, it wouldn't be "loving" to "tolerate" that act and "empathize" with the oppressor. Sometimes as Christian's we are actually called to violence in the name of justice - but I want to stress that this is very rare. The point remains, however, that it is not "Christian" to stand idly by if someone is obviously oppressing and hurting someone else. Sometimes love can take the place of firm, or even harsh action (a great example of firm action is the non-violent protests and movements led by Martin Luther King Jr.)

    All that being said, I'm not sure if Mars Hill warrants such a resistance. The reason is this: the pastors and leaders of Mars Hill are operating within a certain kind of theological framework - inside this framework there are certain kinds of expectations for members that are based on their understanding of scripture rendered in a kind of systematic theology. It is precisely this theological framework which allows for the understanding of certain kinds of sexual behavior, membership activity etc. as sinful. Now I obviously don't agree some central tenets of Mars HIll's theological structure, but I think it's good to keep in mind that it is a self-enclosed system.

    Mars Hill does not push its agenda upon non members (although they'd like to see people willingly join), but part of being a member @ MH is being subject to authority. Keep in mind that this "authority-structure" isn't something that they understand as "man-made" - this authority structure is something that, from what they understand in scripture, was mandated by Jesus Christ himself. It is how they understand the Church is supposed to operate.

    When Ursula says she "doesn't tolerate intolerance" I think that works very well in a certain secular political context is rooted in an ideology of tolerance. But we have to understand that religion in and of itself requires submission to authority at some level: The very word "religion" comes from the latin religare which loosely translated means, "to bind." "Islam" means "submission". Christ himself "lays his life down" and does "the will of the father" - not his own. Becoming a member at a place like MH thus requires a kind of submission to authority.

    In sum, I would say it is certainly right to judge the oppressor; when we see someone oppressing another, we can, in the name of Love itself, fight against such oppression. However, I think we have to understand MH as a self-enclosed system: it is not oppressing those OUTSIDE its own system (though it may say things that anger people outside of the system), it seeks to discipline, in accordance to how they understand scripture, the members of the Church for the sanctification of their soul, body and spirit.

    So is Driscoll an oppressor? I honestly can't say - I certainly don't know your situation and what happened to you there. But maybe at the end of the day the real issue you have with Mars Hill is a theological one. Crises like these are good times to question and weigh the practices of the communities we live in... what do you think about submission? How do you feel about authority? What role does authority play in our lives as Christians? These are essential questions to ask.

    1. Agreed. Christianity (ones relationship with Christ), the chruch, marriage, all include submitting to some kind of authority. The Christian submits to Christ. The Husband to Christ. The wife to her husband. Rom 13:1, Eph 5:22-33. By today's standards the passage in Ephisians may seem sexist, but if anything, it's serves as an example of how a husband should treat his wife. It's not about oppression, or abuse, or dominance, it's about love and respect and making her "radiant".

      It's sad how this passage can be abused with an "obey me" type of attitude from men. If the husband and wife are living in accordance to scripture, with Christ as their focalpoint, the relationship as described in Ephesians becomes a loving, natural one.

      God has instituted leadership in the church. It's there for a reason. 1 Tim 5:17 is a great passage which states that elders in the church are worthy of double honor, especially ones who preach and teach.

  4. Anyway - I hope your meeting goes well tomorrow. Be honest and be open. Be loving. Understand that you are meeting with people, just like yourself, who are trying to figure out how to love and live in a very confusing world. Whether you are more convinced of MH's oppressive, hateful, and anti-Christian stances by the time you are done with your meeting, or if you feel forgiveness, empathy and reconciliation - at least you will further know where you stand theologically, that is, in your relation to God. And that's the most important thing of all.