This is a quote from Jim Palmer’s book Wide Open Spaces, Beyond Paint by Number Christianity pp 185-86. He puts into words what God spoke to my heart and brought about my resignation from God’s Word to Women.
"Being in loves comes with its own supply of courage and conviction, but people concerned about their reputation need not apply. Love often requires relationships with others, and those “others” might not meet the societal standards of normalcy. . . which can stir up controversy. During my religion days, I essentially classified people into three groups. “Believers” were the in-group of people on the same page with our main beliefs and practices. “Unbelievers” were those we associated with in some way, hoping to convert them. Normally, unbelievers were very similar to me in terms of race, culture, and lifestyle. The third group, “really bad people,” were in a different group altogether. These people’s beliefs or behaviors seemed to epitomize everything we were against or didn’t believe in. The group was mostly comprised of people with erroneous theology and/or politics or grossly immoral behavior. It was not appropriate for believers to hang out with “really bad people.” This is where the religious version of “tough Love” kicked in—withholding love altogether.
Now I see these limitations I placed on love had no basis in the life or teaching of Jesus. Jesus pretty much undid my comfortable theory of love when he said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). This is a reminder that love is the foundation and, as such, a prerequisite for peace. The religious establishment condemned Jesus for hanging out with “sinners.” They had limits on their love; Jesus didn’t.
For many years, following Jesus’ example of love was implausible because my religious logic pitted my belief in God’s “holiness” in conflict with God’s “Love.” At times it made God seem schizophrenic. One minute god was too holy to look upon sinners; the next minute he was hobnobbing with the worst of them. The Christian belief system I constructed rested on the notion that God rejects sinners. Yet Jesus offered unconditional love and acceptance to them (us). Religion often implies one must “clean up your act” before receiving anything from God. Jesus, however had not qualms about leaving open forever the floodgates of God’s favor for people regardless of what condition they were in. Once, when questioned about it, Jesus responded, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Mark 2:17). In fact, I think Jesus never had floodgates to begin with. In him, love flowed continuously and without even a means of restraint."