I was struck today by some comments on twitter. I've put them down at the bottom of this post if you want to torture yourself with some very odd (at best, offensive at worst) comments.
What got me was the striking lack of compassion. After throwing a sarky comment at one of these little commentator warriors, pointing out his lack of compassion, I had the comment "not sure where compassion comes into it" bounced back at me. Which made me think... well, where does compassion come into it?!
How many people can say they know for sure that everything they do is either right or wrong? I don't see my lovelife as being sinful. Many people don't see women in leadership as sinful. Or swearing. Or white lies. Or getting divorced. Or having a massive wad of cash in the bank etc etc. The jury is out on many of these things and we are left to discern whether we think we are sinning or whether it is something we see no conviction for and feel no conviction for. No-one would repent for doing things that they don't believe are wrong things to do.
So we all live our merry lives, doing good things and bad things, repenting for the things we know we shouldn't do, being ignorantly blissful about many of our sins, doing things we sincerely believe are right (which in many cases are) and not doing good things because we perceive them as sinful.
Not one single person on this planet does it right all the time. If God was a judgemental God, with no compassion (as we all seem to spend half our lives trying to replicate) then we would all be screwed. It isn't as simple as 'repent and be un-screwed' because we don't even know half the things we are supposed to be repenting for and we get muddled. If God wants anyone to be saved, then He is going to have to have compassion on us and forgive us for the things we never knew to repent for.
The CofE confession liturgy says this:
"We have left undone those things that we ought to have done;
and we have done those things that we ought not to have done"
If a Christian doesn't believe that being in a same-sex relationship is sinful and you tell them they should be judged for this 'sin'... then surely you are saying you should be judged for all the things you do, or should have done, which are sinful but you think are OK or you didn't realise you should have or shouldn't have done. Yet you don't think this- you think that you are covered because you've repented with a blanket prayer- asking that God will have mercy on you for the sins you didn't think you'd committed. Which is the same confession LGBT people say- and so if God's merciful judgement extends to you then it should extend to them... right?
So that's where compassion comes into it. We need God to be compassionate in His judgement of us because we have no way of meeting his standard. And so we need to have compassion when judging others. It makes me think of a little baby who is yet to learn what is right and wrong. She does lovely things, like nuzzling her head into you for a cuddle and then she does that thing which really hurts you- she grabs your hair and she pulls on it (with some sort of superhuman strength only babies have when on a hair pulling adventure). How many times have my nieces pulled my hair, ripped my nose stud from my nose, scratched me with their little baby nails? What is our response- we don't punish them, we have compassion on them. We accept that they don't know any better, that they don't realise how much it hurts us. Then, as they grow older we start to teach them right from wrong. We teach them the general principles of morality- not hurting others and so on. We don't hold it against them forever that when they were babies they hurt us by pulling our hair. We let it go and spend our time worrying about the times they deliberately hurt us, once they knew right and wrong, rather than dwelling on their accidental wrongs. If we only punished, and never showed compassion, then we would be seriously lacking love in this world. And God does not lack love.
James 2:13 says "judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement".
And Colossians 3:12 "Therefore, as God's chosen people... clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
So call me sinful if you like and tell me I am damned based on the small fragment of my life which is on display to you, but I think I'm alright because I trust God's compassion and He sees the whole picture and will therefore judge fairly. And as for you, I hope this small fragment of your life I'm seeing- you as a compassion lacking, judgement spewing Tweeter- doesn't represent the whole picture of your life. Because then we'd all just be as damned as each other.
"welcoming, yes. Loving yes. Accepting sin as being ok and not doing anything to turn from it, no.
"put that down to propaganda by the media, soaps, celebrities, BBC, repeal of clause 28, PC, Stonewall etc" (in response to why we are finally making progress on this issue)
"Tired of people trying to turn the Church into the Libdems or some other PC horror show."