Readers Write: Reply to ‘Open letter to Idyllwild Christians’

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Frank and Harriet Thompson wrote a letter published in the July 7 TC expressing their dislike of the “Separation of Church and State” enshrined in the 1st Amendment. I disagree, but respect their right to voice their opinion.

But during their polemic, they cited “non-gender bathrooms” as an “attack on Christian beliefs.” This is a shameful misrepresentation of Jesus’ teachings.

Jesus had only two directives concerning morality:

1) Treat the other as you would wish to be treated. (Mt 7:12 and Lk 6:31)

2) Exclude no group from this treatment, even those very different from yourself, even your “enemies.” (Mt 5:41-48)

Jesus recognized that it’s more of a challenge to be empathetic to others who are different from yourself. When he noticed that his disciples were very empathetic but only to other Jews, he told them that if they aspired to be sons of God — like Jesus — they needed to broaden their sphere of empathy to include everyone:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Mt 5:43-7)

During Jesus’ time, the law dictated that if a Roman soldier (the “enemy” to Jews at that time) asked a Jew to carry his pack, the Jew must do so, for 1 mile. Jesus told his disciples that if such an enemy soldier asked you to carry his pack for a mile, you should volunteer to carry it for 2. (Mt 5:41)

If you perceive transgender individuals to be different from yourself in a significant way, then it’s exactly that group that will be the measure of your empathy; Jesus’ challenge is to stretch your sphere of empathy. Most people today are up for that challenge, and that’s why most people today believe marriage should be an option for all humans, and why so many soldiers today are sickened when compelled to kill people (PTSD).

If you’re struggling to be empathetic to a certain group, well, keep trying; but until you succeed, don’t you dare call yourself a Christian.

Rick Barker

Idyllwild

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  1. How dare you. How dare you tell another how do you define themselves as a Christian. If I or any other Christian decide we want to include the rest of the New Testament and the Old Testament into our faith and our belief system, that’s our business, not yours. To me, you were guilty of the same judgment that you want to prevent Christians from making. I believe we call that hypocrisy. Another sin that Jesus spoke against. How dare you.

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