When The Dixie Cup Falls Apart…

Being thought of as “less than a person” by other people hurts…

The words have been ringing my ears for weeks. Ever since one of my dearest friends said them to me. I ached for him. For the others that I know must feel that way.

I know the feeling of inferiority. There’s always someone better. More popular. Prettier. Skinnier. Smarter. Wittier. Richer. With a better job.

But to be thought of as “less than a person” is just a deeper kind of hurt. To be made to feel unworthy to be thought of as human—I’ve never felt that. And I just can’t imagine it.

Why does he feel that way?

He’s gay.

I’ve been feeling this post coming for a long time, but I’ve put it off because I have this innate fear of saying the wrong thing. Or the right thing at the wrong time or in the wrong way or to the wrong person. But today, the Dixie Cup of my heart that’s been holding all of these thoughts fell apart at the seams. Have you ever had that happen? Have you held a paper cup full of liquid in your hands for so long that the seams soaked through and finally gave way? That happened to my heart today.

…less than a person…

…hurts…

I’m a pastor’s daughter who has worked in ministry for my entire adult life. I never thought much about the gay community until recent years. Honestly, I didn’t have much reason to. I just didn’t encounter many gay folks. It’s not that I hated them or condemned them. I just never really thought about them. Then, one by one, I started to have friends come into my life that were gay.

I welcomed them and soon found them to be some of the most precious people I have ever known. Loving. Sensitive. Caring. Kind. Loyal. Insightful. Talented. In a word: amazing.

In no way could I ever categorize any of my gay friends as “less than a person.”

Yet one after another, some of my other friends (who, by the way, call themselves Christians) surrounded me with criticism, skepticism, and judgmentalism, all masquerading as concern. I was told that I was compromising my Christianity by being friends with gays. I was told that I was being a bad example to other Christians. I was instructed to make sure that my gay friends knew that they are living a sinful lifestyle that’s an abomination to God—in other words—make sure to judge them and make them feel condemned.

Not one of my Christian friends said, “Sarah, just love them well—like Jesus does.”

Today, I lay back in my recliner with my eyes closed and the music playing through my earphones. Mark Hall’s voice filled my ears and collapsed my Dixie Cup:

“We cut down people in Your name, but the sword was never ours to swing.”

“Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers.”

“Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands.”

“No one knows what we’re for, only against, when we judge the wounded.”

“What if we put down our signs, crossed over the lines, and loved like You did?”

(lyrics by Mark Hall and Matthew West)

Today, I wish I could say to the entire gay community, I’m sorry for every Christian voice that has carried judgment and condemnation and accusation towards you. Every Christian doesn’t feel this way. And you don’t deserve it. You are worth more than that. You are more than your sexuality. You aren’t “less than.” You are amazing. And I love you.

And I believe Jesus loves you, too.

God created the church to be a sanctuary—a place of refuge that everyone can go to and feel safe, secure, welcome, whole. I can’t change the whole church. But I pledge to be that place. I pledge my heart to be a place of refuge where you can come to feel safe, secure, welcome, and whole.

** Disclaimer **

The opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone—not my employer’s or my church’s.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. So beautiful, Sarah. Love is Love.
    Christ asked us to love each other as He loves us. The way you are following His Commandments through the way you live your life is inspiring. Thank you for being a Light in the Darkness

  2. Omg Sarah this makes me so sad AND angry. I cannot imagine these so called christians saying something so stupid and judgmental. “compromising your Christianity” ?! I am speechless.

    Hugs to you dear Sarah.

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    SarahBee, Thank you! Your encouragement makes it so much easier for me to keep walking on this crazy journey called “Life.” I treasure you as the Sister of My Heart!

  4. Kerri (Earringopia) says:

    I agree with SarahBee – love is indeed love – and in the end that is all that matters.

  5. Sarah Salter says:

    Nancy, I know that many of the Christians that have taken the time to “warn” me have meant well. But I think that at some point, we all have to step out of our comfort zones and into another’s world to understand them and to love them. I hope that these Christians get that chance and take that chance. Their lives will be forever changed and they will come to know some of the most phenomenal people!

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Kerri, the Bible says, “These three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. And the greatest of these is Love.” :)

  7. I’ve always thought it was far more Christian to love everybody. Thank you so much for saying it out loud here.

  8. It is so sad to see when the lines between loving God and loving our fellow neighbor is so blurred by hatred. Thank you for taking a stand.

  9. Absolutely spot on. It’s Christians like you that give me hope.

  10. I love you, Sarah. Wish every Christian had a heart like yours. The world would be a much different and more loving place.

  11. I stand with you. I live in a city where gay culture has existed in the open for a long long time, and I’ve seen both the damage that the denial of homosexual love has wreaked in Christian families (one partner blows off steam at the bars and comes home to live a double life until they couldn’t any more) and the beauty of people standing up and being themselves, regardless of the judgement of others.

    I love what you’ve written here, and stand behind you and beside you in agreement. <3 My hands, and those of the other commentors above, are all cupped beneath your dixie cup, to give you the support you need in speaking your truth.

    Best wishes!

  12. I too am a Pastor’s daughter. I grew up a fish bowl where every move was watched and judged. This is most certainly why I do not like organized religion, but that’s a whole other story. My point is, so-called Christians can be the most judgmental people around. I think sometimes they forget that God instructed us to love everyone and leave the judgment to him.

    Bravo for standing up for your own convictions. Every word you wrote here is spot on.

  13. I wish you much courage and strength to stand by your convictions when your church/employer /friends challenge them.

  14. Sarah Salter says:

    Wow! I woke up this morning, signed on to the internet, and became immediately and completely overwhelmed at the response that I see here. First, to Morgan, because I know you, I want to say I love you, too and thank you so much for your friendship and support! To you others, I thank you, too. You came to the blog of a total stranger, not really knowing what to expect, read something that resonated in you, and left a piece of your heart and your mind here. I take that very seriously, I appreciate it, I can’t thank you enough. I especially love Karen’s analogy here– that your hands are cupped beneath my Dixie Cup, giving me support in speaking the truth. I SO need that!

    I also feel like that at this point, I need to clarify that this post wasn’t meant to be church-bashing. There are Christians and churches that are very willing to love and accept everyone. My church, I believe, is one of those. But many other churches are willing and just don’t know how to reach out. Also, as my Christian friends began to read this post, I began to get messages and reminders that many of them do stand with me–for love, for Christ, and for the gay community.

    Again, thank you all! I hope you come back soon. But more than that, I hope that wherever your path takes you–today and always–that you will walk in love.

  15. Excellent message, Sarah. I, too, believe that love is love and that God loves all of us. Love this post. :)

  16. Exactly the way I feel, Sarah. Condemnation is just not in the spirit of Christianity. Our lot is not to judge, but to love as Jesus loves. But as we apologize for our fellow ‘Christians’, I think we also need to realize that they need praying for too. If condemnation is the first thing in their hearts, then love is too far away from them. So my prayers are for those who those who feel ‘less than,’ but also for those who feel ‘more than.’ God bless!

  17. Sarah Salter says:

    Cara, I TOTALLY agree with that! Thank you! :)

  18. I love this post. I am with you-I grew up not really thinking about other people being gay/straight/bi/whatever. Who’s to judge? Def not ME. I’ll worry about my life and where I’m going before I worry about someone else’s. If you don’t judge me, I won’t judge you.
    There’s also a quote from Law and Order: SVU that I LOVE to share: Mariska Hartigay’s character, in a debate with Chris Meloni, says: “When did you choose do be straight?” This quote, to me, says more than I ever could about judgement and choices and right/wrong/heaven/hell or whatever you believe.

  19. Sarah Salter says:

    This afternoon, I got a message from a friend who would like to remain anonymous. She and I agreed that her comment was pertinent to the conversation and so I felt I would share it here:

    “I was recently told by someone that if I didn’t tell my gay friends to repent that I wasn’t a Christian. I told them that that is never my approach with anyone… I try to operate in Christ’s love. I was told they were worried for my sake. This was a good friend. I got all worried about not being a Christian, but I had a chat with the Lord and He and I are cool. Thank you for your brave post. You gave voice to my heart. Prayers for your friend. No one should feel less than.”

    Thank you, Sweet Friend!

  20. Great post, Sarah – very heartfelt. Who gave anybody the right to judge, anyways?

  21. Sarah Salter says:

    Andy, Thanks for the comment and GREAT point! Nobody does have the right to judge!

  22. tlscolwell says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I don’t know you personally, but I know you from the twittersphere more-or-less. You hit the nail on the head with this statement:

    “Every Christian doesn’t feel this way. And you don’t deserve it. You are worth more than that. You are more than your sexuality. You aren’t “less than.” You are amazing. And I love you.”

    I couldn’t agree more and applaud you for stating it. “These people” are people who deserve to feel and express love to the person of their choice. Who are we to deny anyone the same right as a straight person? And whatever happened to the Golden Rule anyhow?

    Keep it up, even if it is unpopular. God knows that you are a quality person for loving so.

    Thank you.

  23. Sarah, God is love. Wait, let’s capitalize that – God is LOVE! That’s exactly what you’ve shared today. Warms my heart!!

  24. Love your words here, Sarah–as usual! 😉 Emma and I were just this afternoon having a conversation about this very thing!!

    Since when do you have agree with someone in order to love them? Jesus told us to love our neighbor…that was the end of the statement. It did not say, “love your neighbor, if and only if, they are living their lives the way you think they should.” Jesus also said, Judge not, lest you be judged. Our job is to love people. Period. It is not to smack them upside the head with your 40 pound Bible. It is up to the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts of people…mine included!! I am the very last person who should be throwing stones! Jesus loves us without condition…it’s what He wants us to do as well.

    Everything reminds me of a song…today’s post reminds me of a song by Ginny Owens called Without Condition. Love that Ginny Owens….the part that gets me in this song is in the chorus, where she says, “you’re insecure and it clouds your perception, so stop and listen and learn a lesson in love without condition.”

    Here are the rest of the lyrics:

    You find this situation just a bit uncomfortable;
    You’d rather stay far away from reality.
    For you to understand would be clearly impossible;
    So you shut your eyes and swear you can see
    Claiming there is a God, but does that mean anything?
    So condescending to those that you don’t understand;
    Just too easy to make them your enemies.
    Like an ostrich, you bury your head in the sand,
    And then shout about all the things you believe.
    But if there is a God, don’t you think He can see
    What you really mean? What you’re doing?

    Chorus:
    You can’t find the answers
    Till you learn to question;
    You won’t appear stupid
    Just ask for direction.
    You’re insecure and it clouds your perception
    So stop and listen
    And learn a lesson in love without condition.

    So place all the souls that you know
    in their own little box;
    Quite convenient to handle them that way;
    You’re the only one you know who carries a cross
    You don’t care what they care about anyway.
    And You talk to your God,
    Prayin’ for those who sin,
    For their eyes to be opened.

    Chorus:
    You can’t find the answers
    Till you learn to question;
    You won’t appear stupid
    Just ask for direction.
    You’re insecure and it clouds your perception
    So stop and listen
    And learn a lesson in love without condition.

  25. Wow. What more could I possibly say that hasn’t already been so eloquently stated? I have never and will never see ANY human being as “less than” anything but God’s child. Look, if you are pious enough to assume you have the right to cut down others, while furthering you so-called agenda, perhaps you should really look at yourself and decide if you are truly without sin. My guess is your answer will be the same as mine…NO. “Love your neighbor as yourself”. That’s what God teaches us. Thatis not a selective statement. That means every neighbor. As a final thought…perhaps if you have difficulty loving your neighbor, you probably also are having trouble loving yourself.

  26. Rodnee Corente says:

    Hi Sarah! i just read your posts. I think God teaches us alot . but its really up 2us 2 learn what He has been trying 2 school us on. We are only Humans. we will learn ! And Soon i hope, 4 i see people have started 2come around on alot of issues. I Pray that Your message gets Thru. God Bless You! Rodnee

  27. While I sympathize with a lot of what you wrote here, I believe you’re either taking things too far or you’re missing a big part of the picture.

    Your friend who said that he was treated as “less than a person”…is that because people were not agreeing with the decisions he was making in his life? You’re quick to condemn people for “condemning” people facing the temptations of homosexuality but eager to give a pass to people who are choosing to openly violate Scripture and be completely unrepentant about it.

    I agree that we shouldn’t run around condemning people and that we should show love to people. However, showing love doesn’t mean you tell someone when asked that all the actions they take are appropriate and that everything they do is fine. I’ve known many people who classify themselves as part of the “gay community” through the years and most had a tendency to equate actions they take with who they are so they can lash out at anyone who disagrees with them as attacking them personally.

    Just like you wrote “you are more than your sexuality” (which is true) you have a number of people who try to make that the primary focus because it’s easier to call someone a bigot and condemn them if you can mash an action with a person.

    Jesus did not look at the woman caught in adultery and tell her to go and keep up the fun times. Yet it seems that Christians are “intolerant” or “judgmental” if we don’t tell people who are practicing homosexuality that they’re perfectly fine and to go be happy. It’s as if large numbers of people who say they’re Christians want to dismiss the Bible because it’s easier to “be like Jesus” if we don’t have to admit that some things people do are sins according to God’s word.

    I’m not in favor of the idiots like Fred Phelps or others who run around proactively condemning people struggling with the temptations of homosexuality. That’s not showing love on any level. However, ignoring the Bible just so we can be the Christian Every Sinner Likes isn’t truly representing Jesus either. Jesus never approved sin. When put in a place where we have to approve it, we shouldn’t do it either. That’s not hate, that’s not condemnation, that’s not degrading someone. That’s saying “God’s word says this and I believe God’s word.”

  28. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, I understand that we aren’t going to agree on everything here, but I really do want to mention a couple of things. First, Jesus spoke with the woman caught in adultery and told her to “go and sin no more” He was perfectly within His rights to do that because He’s God. That means that He’s the judge. Anybody else that was there that day would have been out of their places to do so. This leads me to my second point. I completely agree that the Bible tells us to love one another by warning and exhorting one another about our sins. But this is referring to brothers and sisters in Christ and not unbelievers (which most of the gay folks I know personally, aren’t believers). But this warning and exhortation should be done in love and not in condemnation. And certainly not in a way that makes them feel subhuman. Lastly, you said, “Showing love doesn’t mean you tell someone when asked…” And that supposes that I’ve been asked my opinion. And I haven’t been. Most of them are probably afraid to open that door to the potential condemnation that they’ve come to expect from Christians.

    Jason, I appreciate you coming here and sharing your thoughts in such a respectful way. I do agree with some things you’ve said here. I imagine that on other topics, we might agree on a lot. But my bottom line is that these men and women need to be loved and I believe that God would have me to carry that love to them. On that, I can’t compromise.

  29. I was thinking about that, Jason, but here is the thought which keeps coming to my mind: Even if the prostitute is committing sin continually, it is not our place to not love her because she is a sinner. God can judge but it isn’t my place to do that. Christ asks us to love all our neighbors, not just the ones without sin or who repent. I think it’s more about loving people in all their messiness whether it be drugs or sex or lack of faith and by being the best example of God’s Light that we can be. Through Grace, in our messiness, we can share that Light with others in their messiness and draw them closer to Him through that Grace. I don’t see this as acting in Love just so we are liked but acting in Love knowing that in that, we may not be liked. It’s not about an act which may be seen as against an interpretation of word, but about the spirit of the Word which seems clear to me.

  30. To understand if you can truly remove the stigma of society from someone’s life and see it for what it is and hold it in a true biblical light, replace “gay” with “adulterer”. Now, see if it reads the same. To those who might point out the obvious notion that adultery has a victim (i.e. the spouse) and homosexuality is a more or less “victimless crime”, I invite you to look at the cross and tell me that there’s no punishment for sin. All sin. I wouldn’t dare say that treatment of the homosexual community by so-called Christians has been one of love, but I see in my own family a general acceptance of one brother because he is a homosexual and a general rejection of another because he is violent and likes to hit his wife. He can’t help it. He was born that way.

  31. Sarah Salter says:

    Jack, while your gay brother should be loved and accepted, I would hope that your family’s love for your other brother would be to seek help for him. And I hope they love his wife enough to see help and protection for her. Love NEVER condones abuse–especially the life-threatening kind. And to compare these two situations (homosexual versus abuse) is to compare apples and oranges. But again, they should both be loved. But abuse should NEVER be accepted.

  32. this is so beautiful.

    It’s sad that so many Christians’ first response is judgement and criticism when it should be love, love, love!

    Jesus came, not to condemn the world, but to save it with sacrificial love. We should do the same!

  33. Sarah Salter says:

    Sarah Moon, Thank you!!

    If Jesus had come to condemn, I’d be one of the first in line, not because I’m gay (I’m not) or because I love and support gays (I do), but because I’m a sinner. I AM “the least of these” and “the most wretched of sinners.” So, I thank Jesus for His sacrifice. I can’t believe that He came and suffered and died for me, but He did. I’m forever grateful and I want to share that love with the world. Thank you for coming and sharing it with me. :)

  34. Ben Williams says:

    If every Christian were like you, Christianity would be a much better institution. Well done.

  35. Applause…… Standing ovation….

  36. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Thesa!

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