Category Archives: ABCs
A is for ACCEPTANCE
This I such an interesting word. It’s also a word that I seem to hear a lot about. People seem to be constantly talking about acceptance and tolerance. More specifically, I hear a lot about how we, as Christians, need to show more acceptance and tolerance toward others in this world. We are supposed to accept and tolerate people who believe differently than we do, people who choose to worship differently or not at all, and people who are living a lifestyle that is contrary to what is written in the Bible.
Funny how Christians are supposed to accept and tolerate every other lifestyle imaginable, but no one else feels the need to accept and tolerate Christianity.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about just what it means to accept a lifestyle that is different than mine. A LOT of time, especially in the last 13 years or so. It’s been about that long since my husband and I had dinner with his brother. John and I weren’t married yet, and we’ve had plenty of meals with his family since. But this particular dinner really stands out in my mind. It’s one I don’t think I am likely to ever forget. John had gone to the salad bar to refill his plate. His brother and I were alone at the table, sipping our sodas, when his brother looked at me and said, “So, do you think this is a good time to tell John that I am gay?” I didn’t know if it was a good time. I don’t know if there is ever really “a good time” to come out to your family or friends. But he was ready, and as hard as it was for me, I was there to help him do it. When John returned to the table, his brother said, “I need to talk to you about something.” John opened his mouth to make a joke—if you know John, you know that is not unusual for him! I told him, “You need to sit there, keep your mouth shut, and just listen to what he has to say.”
Which one of us took longer to process it, I really can’t say. It was a really odd few weeks. On the one hand, I kind of liked that he felt comfortable enough with us—with me—to tell us what was going on in his life. On the other hand, this went completely against everything I had ever believed. God intended for a man to leave his mother and father and create a life with his wife. He intended for love to be between a man and a woman, not a man and a man or a woman and a woman. I really struggled for a while with how to love him as a brother even though he was doing something that I felt—and that I honestly still feel—was a sin against God. Still, he was the brother of the man I love. I couldn’t really shut him out of my life without ruining my marriage. He stood up with us at our wedding, visited in the hospital when each of our sons was born, and has been there for us during some really tough times.
There are times when I still struggle. Even though his partner is a wonderful, generous man, I can’t help at times wishing he was a she. They have been together for about 4 or 5 years now, and I know that this man makes my brother-in-law happy. And I don’t want to deny him that happiness. But I am still so confused sometimes. It’s hard sometimes, especially when my sons ask questions about their relationship, to know how to handle it. Is it really OK to accept the life that they are living?
Romans 3:23 has helped me to understand this a little bit. The New Living Translation reads, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” To me, accepting a different lifestyle means accepting this verse. We all fall short of God’s glory. Gay men, lesbian women, Muslims, atheists, Christians…. None of us are perfect. We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all sinned. But Christ still loves us. In fact, a little later on in Romans, Paul writes, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us when we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8, NLT.) Even knowing about all the sin, all the warped things man would to be undeserving of His love and mercy, God still sent his only son to die a horrible death to erase that sin. He not only accepted us all, He forgave us.
Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement. It means love. It means saying, “I don’t agree with how you live your life, but I love you enough to not let that come between us.”
While I still don’t agree with how my brother-in-law is living and I still don’t always know how to explain his choices to my children, I still love him. I still pray for him and do my best to show him God’s love in all I do.