Not long ago, I read this blog post: I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay. It’s a little long, but the heartfelt emotion behind it makes it well worth reading. I really appreciated Dan’s honesty and boldness, and my heart goes out to his friend Jacob and some of the people who responded to Dan’s post.
For me here on the yoga blog, Dan’s post meant a lot to me, because it fits right in with what I’ve been talking about regarding yoga and Christianity. (Yes, it does, just hang on a sec.) There are a lot of people who are all too ready to judge. One of the people who responded to Dan’s post explained that mindset: that she felt called by her faith to judge others harshly for their sins as a form of tough love. I’m sure you’re unsurprised that I agree with Dan on this one. Many people are all too ready to judge, all too ready to cast the first stone, forgetting that Jesus said “love thy neighbor” and “judge not, lest ye be judged” (emphasis mine). We all make mistakes, and we all do things wrong sometimes. If we judge other people harshly, then we’re likely to be judged harshly too. Yoga philosophy teaches compassion, just like Jesus did.
So often people who call themselves Christians spend most of their time talking about how Jesus died to save them from sin, and not enough time talking about all the smart things Jesus said and told us to do. People get so caught up in the story of his death that they don’t think enough about his life! And when I think about examples to follow, I don’t know that I can think of a better example of how to live than Jesus. He was kind to everybody! He loved children, he had a lot of friends, he made sure everybody had plenty to eat and drink and he threw a good party. He was sensitive to the pain and grief of other people and tried to help them. He worked to heal sick people and befriend lonely people and feed hungry people. He didn’t care what people looked like on the outside; he cared about who you were inside and whether you were good and honest and kind. He didn’t blame other people for the things that happened to him. He put his faith in something beyond himself. There are probably many more things that can be said about what an exemplary guy Jesus was. And the people who talk about gays (or whoever) going to hell have read the books about Jesus, haven’t they? Haven’t they read these stories about his life? I don’t understand how someone can read those stories and claim to be a follower of Jesus and still fill his heart and mouth with hate. Jesus was not about hating.
My point is, Jesus was all about compassion, and so is yoga. There’s nothing in what the yoga philosophies tell you to do that contradicts anything Jesus tells you to do. Not on a practical “here’s how to live your life as a good person” kind of way. I’m a yogini and maybe a Buddhist too, and I try to be true to the things that my special books tell me to do. I think that if you’re a Christian, you should try to live according to the things Jesus said to do. And Jesus didn’t say “punish sinners” or “don’t do yoga”, and I’m pretty sure he never said anything about whom you go to bed with. Jesus said to love everybody. I think that’s a pretty fine foundation to use to build a way to live.
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Hi…I stumbled upon your blog while doing some research for my yoga teacher’s exam…lol. I too am a Christian and totally understand where you are coming from! I’ve had people stone me to DEATH when they find out I’m practicing yoga and then come to know I’m going to TEACH it! I live in Japan and no one here has said anything negative….I get criticism from Westerners on the internet…so much so that I changed my Facebook profile! Anyhow..just wanted to leave a comment and say-I understand. I’m putting a link to your blog on my homepage…is it ok?
Hi Connie, thank you for commenting! My personal faith has evolved such that I no longer consider myself a Christian (I attend a Unitarian Universalist church and identify strongly with Buddhist ideals), but as a former Catholic I find myself to be really interested in the intersections of yoga with faith in general and with Christianity in particular. And like you, I feel that anyone can benefit from yoga, no matter what religion they practice! These are issues that I want to keep myself thinking about so that I can respond to my students with compassion and understanding. Please feel free to link to my blog if you like – I tend to post about yoga and Christianity with some regularity. 🙂
[…] at the yoga blog, I’ve often written in the past about the intersections of yoga with Christianity, and I’ve shared my opinion that yoga and Christianity are very compatible, because most of […]