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Judging on an assumption

People say it is best not to talk politics or religion among friends. Unfortunately, my friends, I have a faith based column oozing out of my heart. What better timing than Holy Week.

My father was raised in the strict Finnish Apostolic Lutheran church and my mother was raised in the Episcopal Church but has roots in both the Congregational and Methodist denominations. When my parents were married they chose to raise us in the Lutheran faith, the congregations merged and eventually came together under the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) synod.

Growing up, my close friends belonged to the Catholic, Lutheran (Missouri synod) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) churches. My aunt/godmother was a Jehovah's Witness. My best friend was a Methodist who converted to Catholicism when she married her husband. In college I got to know people of other faiths too. As an adult I was a member of the Evangelical Church of North America and did a long term attendance at a Baptist church, but I have gone back to my roots attending a ELCA Lutheran church. In between I married the love of my life in the Catholic church. I support my husband's beliefs. His faith has been very influential on who he is and why I love him so much.

My mother instilled in our family "Love one another." In my opinion she accepts all people without judgment.

I accept others ... until they really tick me off.

I am not out to change anyone or their beliefs. I truly appreciate differences and learning others beliefs.

Different churches have unique strengths meeting the needs of a variety of believers. I believe God loves variety. I look at the different churches as God's garden. There are not just roses but an endless array of beauty. Each plant has its own uniqueness, fragrance and purpose, together creating a fabulous bouquet. Each flower looks to their creator and bows in His glory.

I am pretty open about who I am and what I believe. I don't have that "what will people think of me" filter stopping me from putting myself out there.

Last week I was labeled a "spiritualist" in a judgmental tone.

Now I know that judgments are based on people's own experiences, by what the person was taught by family, society or lessons learned through just plain living.

But this person knows the Bible and rattled off several references in the Old Testament against spiritualists. It hurt me and I didn't even know what the definition of a spiritualist was. I immediately felt convicted of my wrong doing. Until I looked it up on the internet.

Spiritualism is a belief in communication with dead people, practices of communicating with dead people or religious beliefs emphasizing spiritual matters. Well, no, I do not practice séances to talk to the dead but I do have a system of belief that emphasizes the spiritual nature of existence.

I am not a Bible scholar; I feel I know very little. I spent more time than usual "in the Word," reading bits and pieces of the Old Testament trying to understand where this person was coming from. To me, the Old Testament is a history lesson and I am trying to figure out how the Old Testament is relevant to our society today.

Old Testament laws, which total just over 600, recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy refer to owning slaves, sacrificing animals, being clean or unclean.

I hear Leviticus 18:22 quoted as justification to condemn homosexuals.

Yet Leviticus 19:19 states "Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material." Then on to verse 27 "Do not cut the hair on the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard."

Can we really pick and choose to quote a law from an Old Testament and use it as a sword to condemn people of today?

I have been taught and believe the "Gospel in a nutshell verse," John 3:16 and 17: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Happy Easter!