Have you experienced condemnation in the church, or have you witnessed another person’s condemnation by the church? How did you respond?
The author observes, “there is no gospel that leads to the killing of the soul.” What are the qualities of a gospel that is life-giving?
God has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. - 2 Corinthians 3:6
One of the last times I worshipped within my former tradition, a minister antagonized me for being queer. He took an unexpected pivot in his sermon and suddenly said, "Women have no business being with women."
I was part of a small congregation at the time so I knew he was targeting me with his comment.
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known about me cutting myself as a teenager because I thought I could never have a normal life as a queer woman.
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known that his public condemnation would replay in my head as I let people use me sexually and abuse me emotionally.
I wonder if he would have spoken differently if he had known that his words would be part of the reason I traded Bible studies for binge drinking.
I wonder what he would have done differently if he had prioritized saving my life instead of trying to destroy it with doctrine.
That minister thought publicly condemning me was the key to my salvation, yet it almost led to my destruction.
It took me years after that experience to realize there is no gospel that leads to the killing of the soul. The Spirit calls for us to speak the words that set people free, not the words that keep them in their chains.
Give me a vocabulary of the new covenant. Where others speak condemnation, help me to speak the healing words of everlasting life.