Check the Label.

We like labels. We classify and organize and separate ourselves in groups and categories to better understand ourselves. It's so easy for us to dismiss someone as geeks, goths, emos, jocks, cheats and crooks. Unless your friend or neighbor lives in a jar on Aisle 5 near the fresh produce, we were never really licensed to put labels on people.

A few years ago, my friends and I were playing a game I would now call "Who's gay?" (Horrible, I know.) We would talk about our "less masculine" friends and try to guess which ones were metrosexual, effeminate, secretly or formerly gay. (I do realize now though, that the words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them. Thanks Proverbs.) It was terrible for us to have played that game, I know, but even today I catch myself doing that (Adam Lambert? The friend I got introduced to last month?) We were talking about a particular colleague of ours and my friend goes "I honestly don't know if he's gay or not. At this point, he's just Paul to me. Not gay, straight or metro. He's just, well, Paul." 

Boom boom pow.

 We label them by their skinny jeans, their perfectly coiffed hairstyles and popped collars. Don't get me wrong. I have a lot of friends that are gay. Come to think of it, I think I've met and had more gay friends today than I have in the last ten years.  I know this is a highly sensitive topic that have sparked countless debates, and I know that it will continue to raise a lot of questions in our society. Do I constantly repeat 1 Corinthians 6:9 to them and ask them to turn away from a life of sin so that they can be saved? Not exactly. Do I agree with them being gay? No. Do I love them and accept them for who they are without checking the label? Absolutely.

Remember what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 7?  "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

 It's like telling my friend they've got a toothpaste smudge on their shirt and I just finished doing an oil change. Jesus didn't say, "first take the dust out of your own eye". He didn't even say speck or smidge or spot. He said plank. And we all know that planks are pretty huge. Funny that we judge others for little specks when we have big pieces of lumber covering our eyes. No one calls me straight anyway. Why should I call them gay? Do I want Jesus to call me the H word? Hypocrite? I shudder at the thought.

As Tony Campolo put it, "You don't say love the sinner, hate the sin. You say, love the sinner, hate your own sin." Then we can start talking about how perfect and pristine and sinless we are, which we all aren't. 

It even goes beyond the gay labels --- calling people alcoholic, prostitute, Christian, non-Christian, jerk, and so many other different names we baptize others based on what they do. Labels are for supermarket products. For soup and spaghetti and toothpaste and milk. For people, I wouldn't be so sure.

I got lumbers in my peepers.