Thursday, February 8, 2007

Definitions


The word of the day is CHRISTIAN. Recently, I've begun to ponder the ways in which that particular word is used sometimes more in reference to one's behavior or state of morality, so I wanted to see exactly what a widely accepted dictionary would have to say. Below are two entries that I found at Dictionary.com.

Chris·tian [kris-chuhn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective
1.of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.
2.of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ: Spain is a Christian country.
3.of or pertaining to Christians: many Christian deaths in the Crusades.
4.exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike: She displayed true Christian charity.
5.decent; respectable: They gave him a good Christian burial.
6.human; not brutal; humane: Such behavior isn't Christian.
–noun
7.a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.
8.a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ: He died like a true Christian.
9.a member of any of certain Protestant churches, as the Disciples of Christ and the Plymouth Brethren.
10.the hero of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
11.a male given name.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source Chris·tian (krĭs'chən) Pronunciation Key
adj.
  1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
  2. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
  3. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
  4. Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
  5. Showing a loving concern for others; humane.

n.
  1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
  2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.
This information became more important to me last week, when a dear friend who was the absolute pillar of our church died suddenly in the early morning hours of Thursday, February 1, of a massive heart attack. This is how my late husband died, so it follows that this death struck even closer to home than some.

This man, this pillar of our church, who cooked for everyone, who coordinated church-wide events ranging from a yearly auction to block parties in the parking lot to the annual Thanksgiving dinner available to one and all, so that no one had to be alone on holidays -- this man that I'm describing was Gay. He was also in a loving, completely committed relationship for nearly 20 years. His partner was and is equally as generous with his time and efforts with our church community, and I've learned that they were both also very active in their own neighborhood, caring for elderly neighbors as you might a beloved aunt or grandmother. My friend's greatest love was senior citizens, and, each quarter, he and all the helpers he could get would prepare a beautiful, elegant and very nutritious brunch, just for seniors. Some of these folks were unable to come to services often, due to various disabilities, but my friend made sure they had transportation to his brunch, so that they would be reminded that we loved them and hadn't forgotten them. I've only gotten to participate in the help for the brunch once, but I'm certainly going to be participating in the future events.

I say all of these things because some of his family members not only ostracized him from the family, but also condemned and criticized him, his partner, our church, and even the tone of his Life Celebration Service (his wishes were followed to not have anything morbid and to remember to celebrate life, not mourn death). These people, his family, call themselves Christians. They even mostly belong to the church of Christ.

Based on my experience of this beautiful man, my understanding of "Christian teachings", and now the specific definitions of what the word "Christian" means, I believe that my friend, the gay man, was the Christian, NOT those who claimed to be but yet had not one ounce of charity in their hearts.

I don't know if what I'm writing will mean anything to anyone else, but I had to say these things for myself. I loved my friend -- I love his partner -- and I am honored to have been, with my husband, the person called first after the minister was called. I'm honored to have spent from 6am Thursday morning until 8pm Saturday night, ministering to (not my term) a human being in the agony of loss. I consider myself exceptionally fortunate and blessed to be someone another can turn to for comfort. That, my friends, is the mark of a successful life.

Please remember to love one another as you love yourselves. And if that means you need to do a better job of loving yourself, well, DO IT. You can't help anyone else if you yourself are drained and struck to the bone with sorrow or fatigue or sickness. We all need each other -- in "real life" and here online. It was my online life and my online friends who got me through those first bleak months after I lost my husband. It was online, too, that I found my current beloved hubby. Love is love -- doesn't matter how it developed or whether it's romantic/platonic/paternal/maternal, etc. John Lennon said "Love is all we need", and I think he had it right.

Peace, and, in case I haven't told you -- I love you! You blogfriends out there -- yes, Y'ALL!!! I LOVE YOU ALL, and am so grateful to count you among my REAL friends.

Suzanne

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh Suzanne I am so sorry to hear that about your friend. I am glad you were able to be there for his partner as I know what a comfort it is to have you near during a tough time. I agree with you, it sounds like your friend was the Christian according to those definitions. He sounds like a wonderful man.

Genevieve said...

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, Suzanne. I know you'll be a big help to his partner.

RunAwayImagination said...

I love the depth of your introspection. Thank you for sharing your insights.

Words are powerful instruments, and they are often misused. The word "Christian" can have so many connotations. It can imply living in a moral way and treating others as you would have others treat you. That same word has also inspired some of the bloodiest wars in human history.

I am honored to be counted as your friend and to be loved as your husband.

Kelpie said...

Suz, sounds like your late friend (and his partner) lived the meaning of the word "Christian". And IMHO judging people is not Christian. Deepest sympathy to you and your late friend's friends in his loss. It is so "you" to be there for people in their time of need.