We used to have a reverse osmosis filter for our kitchen sink. This water filter has such a tiny membrane to filter the water that it even gets out bacteria, let alone sulfur, minerals and any other impurities. The water that came up from the well without any filtration had an eggy smell and would also have a yellow tinge to it. When I was less diligent about replacing the salt in our water softener and filters, it was pretty unbearable. As silly as it sounds, the unfiltered water that comes up from our well could ask us, “Why don’t you just accept me the way I am?” Or, “This is just me. If you don’t like the way I smell or taste, you’re rejecting me.” But the filter begs to differ. It can strain and pull out the minerals and impurities and get to the essence of what it is intended to be in its most pure form. And that pure form is the most true form of water.
I bring this up because I believe there is a confusion between what we were created to be (our pure forms) and what we’ve allowed to attach to ourselves that makes us impure. I have heard the accusatory questions and statements, “How can you say you love me if you don’t accept my lifestyle?,” and “You are rejecting me if you don’t affirm my sexual orientation/gender identity/lifestyle choice.” But the water that comes up from my well might as well argue that I hate water just because I won’t drink yellowed, eggy smelling water. I love my neighbors and friends who align themselves to different philosophical stances, identify as another gender than their sex, or express same sex attraction. Why? Because they, like me, are human, created in the image of God.
But somewhere along the way we have mistakenly convinced ourselves that to love someone is to accept and affirm everything the other person believes when that is obviously not true. Parents know this as they correct and discipline their precious children. We know this in matters of opinions, such as favorite ice cream flavors, music and movies. Currently in our society, people are even willing to agree to disagree agreeably when it comes to religion. It seems to me, however, that there is a woeful blindness to this in matters of sexual orientation and gender identity. To an increasing number of people, to not affirm a particular sexual orientation is the same as rejecting their humanity.
When Jesus encountered the woman caught in adultery, Jesus never affirmed the woman’s lifestyle choice. She had committed adultery; presumably damaging either her family, another person’s family or both. Yet listen to the words of Jesus in John 8:10-11.
“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Jesus agrees that she has sinned. He doesn’t dismiss or pretend the sin doesn’t exist. Yet Jesus realized that the woman was more than her sexual choices. Jesus, better than a reverse osmosis filter, can distinguish between our true essence as created humans made in His image, and whatever impure image we have given ourselves.
The answer to our sins, whether sexual in nature or not, is to agree with God on what pure humanity is. In order for the water to pass through the reverse osmosis filter, it must undergo significant pressure and straining, which if water had any feelings, would be uncomfortable, I’m sure. Likewise, the process of becoming more pure is a straining and uncomfortable process (as I am increasingly aware of the longer I walk with Jesus). Max Lucado said it better than I could: “God loves you just as you are but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be more like Jesus.” I can’t pretend that my love is perfect like Jesus’ but I strive to love others in more than words, even when I disagree with them.