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You have to actually love me in order to tell me something about myself "in love." (I was inspired to write this after I saw a concerning comment on a friend's post). I can't tell you how many times I've seen religious people rebuke someone "in love" when it was really only done in ignorance or arrogance. It's like saying "no offence" — every offence is intended. They'll see you walk into a church with dreadlocks or earrings, or nail polish, or a short skirt, or a tight dress, or cleavage or any other thing they deem abominable, or they'll see something you've written or said — basically they see you being yourself, exercising your gifts as best you know how — and then they'll pull you aside and tell you to change. Or stop. Or to go home. Or they censor you from any further participation in church activities. And then they manipulate and gaslight you by saying that they're telling you this "in love." They don't know you and they've never spoken to you otherwise, but they "love" you. I'm not above correction, rebuke or criticism. "Those He loves He chaseneth." But if you are going to criticize me "in love" make sure you are actually concerned about my wellbeing and that you understand my motives more than you are about abiding by church policy and upholding what is often merely a discrete cultural opinion on decorum, gifts and presentation. If you do not know me, if you do not love me, in reality your holy words sound like brass and fall on deaf ears. I only listen to people who actually know me and love me and have my best interest in mind. Love implies a prior, existing relationship of significance. And love is patient. And kind. And hopes for the best and believes the best. So if your criticism is none of these things, you are not speaking to me "in love". You do so in self-righteousness. And if you knew me or the person you try to correct, you'd know the context and you'd care to know the whole story, rendering the constructive criticism relevant. If you see me going astray, pull me aside, tell me in private, send me a private message, speak to me kindly. But before you do all that, make sure you actually love me first.
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