This week we were with the kids at Disney World I was reminded of this post I wrote after a previous trip to the Magic Kingdom so I thought I would share it with you again…
As we speak, the whole nation (and even the world) waits for Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision. And we are all wondering, “What is taking her so long?” One side is wondering why it is taking so long for her to sign a piece of legislation that both houses of her state’s legislature have passed insuring that the “rights” of business owners to discriminate by refusing service based on their “deeply held religious beliefs” are not infringed upon. The rest of us are wondering why it is taking her so long to veto legislation that so blatantly violates the constitution and is so obviously discriminatory. Currently, the word on the street is that she is leaning toward a veto. It is my belief that if she does veto the measure it will be based purely on economics. First, “gay people have money and they buy stuff“. Second? The Super Bowl. So far the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL and the Super Bowl Committee have all come out with statements urging the governor to veto the legislation. Here are their respective statements:
“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard…We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”
– NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello
“We share the NFL’s core values, which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination.”
–Super Bowl Host Committee
“What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home.”
As Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a changin’”and thank God they are. Sadly, it seems, not fast enough, with laws such as this one cropping up all over the country, Uganda’s new law making being gay a crime punishable by life in prison, the lobbyist who is drafting legislation to make it illegal for gay men to play in the NFL, a thing I learned about today called “gay denialism“, and this article about Vladimir Putin which praises him as a “man of Christian faith and values” because of his stance on homosexuality. Yikes!
If you have been on my blog for long you know that I am an ally. I have written extensively in support of full equality of LGBT persons both in the church, politics and society at large (you can use the search box on the right to see some of my previous posts, try searching homosexuality or LGBT). It is my prayer that the time is coming when legislation like this is looked back upon with embarrassment and contrition. For those of you still holding on to the notion that your rights as a Christian are being violated by being asked not to discriminate against LGBT persons, I came across a handy quiz you can take to see if that is indeed the case. Here are the questions from Rev. Emily C. Heath:
1. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.
2. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.
3. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.
4. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.
5. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.
6. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.
7. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.
8. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.
9. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.
10. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.
If you answered “A” to any question, then perhaps your religious liberty is indeed at stake. You and your faith group have every right to now advocate for equal protection under the law. But just remember this one little, constitutional, concept: this means you can fight for your equality — not your superiority.
If you answered “B” to any question, then not only is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.
If you are a Christian and you are for this law, I have only one question: What do you think Jesus’ answer would be today if we asked him the same question the young lawyer asked him in Matthew, “Who is my neighbor?” Knowing Jesus’ penchant for parables, it is a safe bet he would tell us a story…
“A gay couple was going down from Phoenix to Tucson to pick up a wedding cake he had ordered. The Christian owner, upon seeing that he was gay, invoked his right not to make the cake because of his deeply held religious beliefs. Now by chance a pastor was in the same bakery and heard the whole thing but rather than get involved he sat quietly eating his danish. So likewise the Governor, when faced with the opportunity to veto the measure before her, stalled. But a baker who worked in the next town, who happened to be an illegal alien, heard about the couple and had compassion on them. He not only offered to bake the cake for their wedding, he also set about helping them find a caterer and a venue. He even helped out with the flowers and bought the couple a wedding gift. Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the men getting married?” And we would say (I hope), “The one who baked the cake.” And Jesus would say to us, “You go, and do likewise.”
Jesus left us with only one law with two parts, love God with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself. That is the essence (or spirit) of Christ. This law (and laws like it) are the essence (or spirit) of antichrist. Is that a strong statement? You bet. But in 1 John 4:20-21 it says, “If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also.” When we truly love others we will afford them the same rights we claim for ourselves. Until then, we are self-deceived and we are loving neither God nor our LGBT neighbors.
I have read all the blogs, and I get it. I get that the church is about much more than going to an event called “church” on Sunday. It is much more than a meeting where we sing and pray and give and listen to a sermon and take of communion. It is a living, breathing, spiritual body of people. I get it. And I also get that I don’t have to go to the event called “church” on Sunday to be a committed follower of Christ. In fact, I get it so much that as one of the pastors of the church I attend, I voted, along with the other pastors, to eliminate regular Sunday gatherings.
With that said, I need to go to church on Sunday. Really, I do. And it isn’t because the music gives me a certain feeling, or the preaching is fantastic, or it is a quick and simple way to ease my guilt. Nope, it is simpler than that. I need to know, on a regular basis, that I belong to a movement of people who are dedicated to loving God and caring for others.
I need to know that those people are committed to something bigger than themselves. And when I see people gather on Sunday morning, when they could be sleeping in or lazily enjoying a cup of coffee on the couch, I know, even if just for an hour, they are committed to something bigger than themselves.
I need to know they recognize that God is worthy of regular worship. And when I stand with others and sing songs to Jesus, it helps me see that, although this is simply one way of expressing our devotion to and adoration of our God, there is magic and wonder and peace when humanity joins together to praise their creator.
I need to know others are sacrificing along with me. And when I see people dropping their hard-earned money in the offering box, I know that, at least in a small way, they are trying to sacrifice a little for others.
I need to know that others are committed to learning more about Jesus and how we are to follow him and love our neighbors. And when I see people listening to someone share out of the Scriptures, I know they are attempting to learn, to grow, to evolve.
I need to know that others are with me in my brokenness and my belief that Jesus is going to make everything right. And when I see others line up and eat the bread and drink the wine or juice, I see that they are broken and placing their faith in the same person I am.
Each of these rituals are imperfect. And how could they be otherwise? It is us, after all, who are performing them. But for me, at least, there is beauty and hope and comfort in all the imperfection.
I need to go to church on Sunday. Why? So I can be reminded, on a regular basis, that I belong. That others are committed to something bigger than themselves. That others recognize that God is worthy of regular worship. That others are sacrificing for their neighbors. That others are committed to learning about Jesus and attempting to learn, grow, and evolve. That others are broken and believe Jesus is going to fix everything.
Yep. I need to go to church on Sunday.
There is just too much crazy going around lately. Seriously. Too. Much.
[I'm lookin' at you Tom Delay, Jerry Boykin & Crazy Conservative Truck Couple]
Seriously, y’all just gotta cut it out.
This morning I woke up to the news that a former Senator’s assertion that God wrote the Constitution of the United States AND that a Former U.S. General said that Jesus is going to come back as Rambo in a robe, covered in the blood of his enemies and carrying an AR-15. Not only that, but he asserted that the second amendment came from Jesus, “Now I want you to think about this: where did the Second Amendment come from? … From the Founding Fathers, it’s in the Constitution. Well, yeah, I know that. But where did the whole concept come from? It came from Jesus…the sword today is an AR-15, so if you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one. It’s biblical.”
First, let’s address the fact that God did not write the Constitution or any other part of the law of the United States. (If you missed what Tom Delay said you can listen to it here). It is hard for me to believe that is something that actually needs to be said but apparently it does. Is there Judeo-Christian influence present in our laws? Of course. Were any of our laws or our Constitution authored by God directly or indirectly? Hell, no. As Benjamin Corey said on his blog today,
What’s scary about this [Delay's statement], is that people functionally believe it. Perhaps not many are dumb enough to actually believe that it’s true, but after having it drilled into their heads repeatedly that God is somehow connected with the constitution, people functionally operate as if this document came from God and cannot be questioned. Obviously it’s not– my children are not less of a person because of the color of their skin, God isn’t the one who killed Native Americans in order to set up shop here, God isn’t the one who built our wealth on the backs of slaves… the US constitution did NOT come from God.
Mr. Delay’s statements bring up all sorts of questions, such as, “If God wrote the Constitution did he also write the Second Amendment to the Constitution? Retired General Jerry Boykin, who is now working for the Family Research Council, says yes. In a seemingly unrelated and yet shockingly parallel universe, a recording came to light yesterday of General Boykin discussing what Jesus will be like when he returns. You can listen to it here:
Yes folks you heard that right, but if you’d like to read it again, here you go…
“The Lord is a warrior and in Revelation 19 it says when he comes back, he’s coming back as what? A warrior. A mighty warrior leading a mighty army, riding a white horse with a blood-stained white robe … I believe that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies ’cause he’s coming back as a warrior carrying a sword.
And I believe now – I’ve checked this out – I believe that sword he’ll be carrying when he comes back is an AR-15.
Now I want you to think about this: where did the Second Amendment come from? … From the Founding Fathers, it’s in the Constitution. Well, yeah, I know that. But where did the whole concept come from? It came from Jesus when he said to his disciples ‘now, if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’
I know, everybody says that was a metaphor. IT WAS NOT A METAPHOR! He was saying in building my kingdom, you’re going to have to fight at times. You won’t build my kingdom with a sword, but you’re going to have to defend yourself. And that was the beginning of the Second Amendment, that’s where the whole thing came from. I can’t prove that historically and David [Barton] will counsel me when this is over, but I know that’s where it came from. And the sword today is an AR-15, so if you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one. It’s biblical.”
Okay, first off, “that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies”? Oh is it now? So much for all that love your enemies stuff that Jesus said. I don’t know about you but I believe that the blood on his robe is his own blood. I also believe that blood is symbolic. I believe it is symbolic of our sins being forgiven and “not just our sins, but the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). But sadly for Gen. Boykin his image is of Jesus in a robe stained by the blood of his own enemies because he just mowed them down with an AR-15. I guess the folks in the truck I saw this morning agree that this is what loving ones enemies looks like. For the life of me I don’t know how these folks get from Jesus laying down his life for others because of his great love to this Jesus. Oh wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could just kill all the people we disagree with. Holy Hannah! What kind of love is that?
Next, we have Jesus coming up with the second amendment when he tells the guys to sell their cloaks and buy a couple swords (or AR-15s, you say potato…). To quote Benjamin Corey from Formerly Fundie again,
That passage is found in Luke 22, and is just before Jesus is arrested:
“He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment. The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.”
Those who quote this verse to support the idea that Jesus endorses violence have to quote just the first part without the whole context. What’s neat about this passage is that it doesn’t leave you wondering what it’s about– Jesus clearly tells us. By citing an OT prophesy of being “numbered with transgressors” Jesus tells them to bring two swords to the garden. The reason, Jesus tells us, is that so he could be counted and arrested as an armed criminal. We know that Jesus didn’t intend the swords for violent reasons because (a) He tells them that 2 were plenty, which they weren’t if it were for self defense (b) when the disciples actually use them for self-defense in the garden (Peter) he rebukes him with another command for nonviolence: “No more of this! He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.”
There is nothing in this passage that indicates Jesus approved of violence, only the contrary.
All this Jesus as Rambo stuff caused my friend Josh to opine on a Facebook discussion today, “Isn’t that what they thought he would be like the first time?” You would think we would learn.
Sadly men like Delay and Boykin have so blurred the lines between their religion and their patriotism that they have begun to think of our founding documents as scripture and to believe that scripture (specifically their interpretation of it) should be the law of our land. *shudder* God help us all. I wrote a blog post about that very concept last year when I heard a guy on the radio say that the Bible trumps the law of the United States. Oh really now? I need only ask one question to illustrate why this is such a bad idea: Whose version of the Bible? Whose interpretation of it? Theirs? or (heaven help them), mine? Maybe the Pope’s or Rob Bell’s? Doesn’t this eventually lead to a Supreme Court of sorts to determine what is Biblical and what isn’t? Isn’t that just a Christian version of Sharia law? And how about this? If you believe the Constitution is God breathed why did it need so many amendments? And if it was these guy’s God who wrote it, why didn’t it already have a clause in there about marriage being between one man and one woman? Why didn’t it ban homosexuality? Things that make you say hmmm.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
This prayer, prayed by Jesus as an instruction to us, is bookended by instructions not to do your good deeds for public recognition and to forgive if we wish to be forgiven. Perhaps these are hints as to where the answer to this prayer lies.
What if, just maybe, God’s answer to this prayer and many of our prayers, is simply us. Yes, you. Yes, me.
Last week I read the 2014 Gates Annual Letter in which Bill & Melinda outlined the 3 myths that block progress for the poor. It is an amazing letter. I hope you will go read it. It is an eye-opening and inspiring education on changing the world for the better. After you have read it, come back and tell me that Bill & Melinda Gates are not part of God’s answer to the prayers of millions. Tell me they are not helping God’s will to be done on earth.
Let’s think about Jesus’ prayer, which he says should be our prayer. The first request is for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Every time we love our neighbor, our family or our enemy we fulfill this request. Every time we stand up for the oppressed, every time we give food or drink or clothing or provide shelter, we are being part of the answer. When God hears this request he is looking at us and asking, “Well, what are you doing about it?” His kingdom breaks though whenever and wherever love is winning, grace is extended, and liberty is defended.
Next request, give us this day our daily bread. I think this is more than just food. It implies not only the satisfying of our physical hunger but all our daily needs. In Matthew 24, Jesus says,
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me,I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
What is Jesus saying here? I believe he is saying, we are the answer to people’s prayers for relief. This is what it means to be truly human. To recognize that we are all in this together. That each person we meet bears the image of God. And as you do to one another, we do to Jesus himself. And what does Jesus say about the Kingdom coming here? He says it comes to us when we care for and love each other.
This brings us to the next request: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. In the verses following the prayer Jesus clarifies this part as , “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Wow. So yeah, forgiveness is kind of a big deal. In Colossians 2 it says, that he canceled “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands”. This is a high standard. This is forgiveness for all, past, present and future. It is grace extended to the undeserving. It is mercy when undeserved. It is the lifting of another’s burden. It is the overlooking of faults. Let’s ask ourselves how we can do this today? Can we overlook the faults of our spouse? Can we extend mercy to someone who has wronged us? Can we finally stop keeping the ledger of grievances we so carefully tally?
And the final request of the Lord’s Prayer? Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. How can we be a part of the answer here? Maybe by this point you know where I am going. We can be support and encouragement for those struggling with addictions, we can stand for and be a part of liberating sex trafficking victims, we can be there when our friend struggles with depression, we can share our stories for victory and defeat and somehow lift each other up and help carry each other’s burdens. We can fight for justice for the oppressed. We can educate people about bullying. We can speak out in favor of equality. We can write letters to our representatives. We can run for office. We can vote.
When it comes down to it there are as many ways to be a part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer as there are people who bear his image. How will you be the answer today? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!
Dear Mr. Huckabee,
Yesterday you gave a speech in which you said,
“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it,” Huckabee said at the RNC winter meeting. “Let’s take that discussion all across America.”
May I respectfully submit that you are thoroughly and completely missing the point of the conversation. Let’s start with the subject at hand: the Affordable Care Act’s mandated contraceptive coverage. There are many points being made by the Democrats about this coverage, none of which is that “women are helpless” and “cannot control their libido or reproductive system” without the help of the government. Personally I resent the statement that women who want their private insurance companies to be required to cover birth control are akin to having a sugar daddy. Mr. Huckabee, if your goal with this speech was to dispel the myth that there is a war on women, you are doing it wrong.
Up until recently, I have been a life-long Republican. It amazes me that there isn’t a meeting where someone from Party HQ sits every candidate and elected official down and says, listen, “STOP TALKING ABOUT WOMEN AND SEX AND BODY PARTS. It never goes well for us.” Honestly, what is amazing to me is that when you sat down to write this speech with your speech writers and advisors, you all thought this sounded like something that would play well with American women. Heck, my guess is that this line of bs doesn’t even go over well with most Republican women.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up in a middle class American home. As I said before, I have been a life-long Republican until recently. I am 44 and have been married since I was 18 years old (26 years – thought I’d save you the math). I come from a military family and my father is a decorated retired Air Force Colonel. My husband and I waited 13 years to get pregnant with our first child. I have 2 beautiful children and 1 lost to miscarriage. I have never had an abortion (not that it is any of your business). My husband was the first in his family to graduate from college and now holds a JD from Pepperdine University. I have a BFA in Graphic Design from The University of Texas at Arlington. We did not always live as comfortably as we do now. When we were young, my husband and I had to rely on Planned Parenthood for free/low cost birth control pills. Thank God for them. At the time we had no health insurance and the cost of going to an Ob/Gyn and the prescription was just more than we had. I want you to know a few things, Mr. Huckabee,
- I did not need “Uncle Sugar” to help me control my libido. I was married.
- I was, by going to Planned Parenthood, controlling my reproductive system.
- I was not helpless, but I would have been without the services provided to me by Planned Parenthood.
- My husband and I knew we were not ready to be parents, but we would have been forced to practice less effective methods of birth control were it not for PP.
Sir, I understand you do not personally think I needed the government to control my libido, etc., but you think that the Democrats do. YOU ARE AGAIN MISSING THE POINT. The point is…
Providing women with free/low cost Ob/Gyn care and birth control empowers them to be able to follow through on exercising wise and informed family planning. Also, studies show that providing free birth control actually REDUCES ABORTIONS. And isn’t that something we can agree on?
I personally am done having babies and using birth control. However, I am happy to pay my ACA health plan premiums so that other women and families can be provided the services I was, but at their doctor’s office instead of Planned Parenthood. Why, when women just want to be responsible with their choices, do you not want to help them do so? As far as I can tell, you want to do away with the ACA and Planned Parenthood. What then, sir, are we as women supposed to do when we cannot afford a health plan that covers Ob/Gyn care as well as birth control? Have an abortion? I don’t think any of us want that. Have a baby when we cannot afford one or take care of one? Doesn’t that just cause more family and societal issues? What about adoption? What if every woman who has used birth control to prevent a pregnancy since the advent of modern contraception had just had all those babies and given them up for adoption? That would be MILLIONS of babies. Do you honestly think we would have homes for them all? We would have to go back to having orphanages. Not everyone would be able to afford to take care of those children, especially since younger people are most likely to be on birth control. Some of us would not have been able to finish college. And that would add even more people to the welfare system. Perhaps you think women should only have sex when they are prepared to have a baby and that couples should have as many children as God gives them. That is up to you and your wife; you get to make that choice. When and how others choose to plan their families is not up to you. With all due respect, butt out.