I had an interesting conversation with a lady who attends my church. We'll call her "Johnita Moore". Johnita is one of those "traditional" Christians. You know, the ones who are always pontificating to the younger church goers; using the "decent and in order" scripture to push their church norms, and blindly follow the concept of traditionalism in the church. Yeah. That type.
At any rate, talking to her made me realize that I'm not a typical Christian. For a long time, I believed that 'church folk' could do no wrong. Now I'm starting to see that it's often the church folk who get it twisted the most. We tend to lose sight of "the least of these". Isn't the church supposed to tend to those in need; as opposed to being critical and judgemental of them? Much like this picture, the church often creates a gate of superficiality where some types of people are excluded. Before you argue with me, what happened the last time a drunk person wandered into your church?
Maybe one of my biggest gripes is that most of the sins/actions that church folk have the hardest time getting past are usually those that they have committed themselves. So, my advice to the Johnita Moores of the world is to search your own heart to see if you need to clean yourself up before downing other people for their shortcomings. I've seen people torn down by the church in the name of religion, when it could have very easily used the word of God as a tool of ministry instead.
I've noticed something I call "church culture". I doubt that it's a new concept that I made up, but I see it all the time. It's the scary notion that people have to assimilate to be just like each other in the church. If a person doesn't match that mold, they have a hard time fitting in. I think that's why it's important to realize that God calls for us to conform to Him, not to the church (Romans 12:2). There's a huge difference, no matter what people might say. We have to learn to accept people where they are. We may not agree with all they do, but we have to respect them nonetheless.
Having this spirit is not an impossible chore. After all, Christ deemed us free will moral agents and we should act accordingly. He NEVER forces His will on anyone. Yes, there are consequences for not obeying His will but -- bottom line -- Jesus gives us a say in how we live.