Let me count the 1,138 ways

doma TEXT 4 RESOURCE PG

Yesterday I was asked this question on Facebook by a single, straight, male acquaintance…

Michelle, tell me where I currently have any more freedom than a random gay couple?

Yes straight dude, you do have more freedom than a random gay couple. In honor of DOMA Day and the Supremes, let me count the ways… by the way, there are 1138 of them at the federal level and many more at the state level. Here are a few…

You are more free to marry whom you love and enjoy the same benefits, rights and responsibilities of that union under the law.

Your surviving spouse (since you are a working American) is eligible to receive Social Security payments should you die and you are eligible to receive those payments should you die.

You surviving spouse who is caring for your minor child is also eligible for an additional support payment and vice versa.

Notice…a lesbian couple who contributes an equal amount to Social Security over their lifetime as a married couple would receive drastically unequal benefits, as set forth below.

Family Eligible for Surviving Child Benefits Eligible for Surviving Parent Benefits (quoted from http://hrc.org/resources/entry/an-overview-of-federal-rights-and-protections-granted-to-married-couples)

  • Family #1: Married husband and wife, both are biological parents of the child
    • Eligible for Surviving Child Benefits
    • Eligible for Surviving Parent Benefits
  • Family #2: Same-sex couple, deceased worker was the biological parent or adoptive of the child
    • Eligible for Surviving Child Benefits
    • Not Eligible for Surviving Parent Benefits
  • Family #3: Same-sex couple, deceased worker was not the biological parent nor able to adopt child through second-parent adoption
    • Not Eligible for Surviving Child Benefits
    • Not Eligible for Surviving Parent Benefits

Your future spouse’s medical contribution is made pretax.  However, an employer’s contribution for a domestic partner’s coverage, is included in the employee’s taxable income as a fringe benefit.

Should you have a child, you would be eligible for an earned income tax credit calculated in part based on the number of qualifying children you have. Gay couples can be disadvantaged by this if the biological parent stays at home or earns less than their partner, since they must file separately the family is ineligible for the adjustment in the EITC and therefore has less income to devote to raising the child.

You are eligible to be recognized as the “head-of-household” for an increased standard deduction which provides you with increased funds to care for your future dependents.  Thus, a gay or lesbian parent who supports his or her partner’s child (and who is ineligible in their state to adopt the child) has less income with which to support the child(ren).

If you meet income eligibility requirements you are entitled to a credit against taxes for qualifying children in your household.   This provision limits the child tax credit to children who meet the relationship test set forth in the earned income tax provisions, § 32(c)(3)(B) which do not include children of a taxpayer’s domestic partner if they are not related to the taxpayer biologically or through adoption. Again, less cash to help take care of the family.

As pointed out in the aforementioned article from  Marriage Equality USA,

All three of these inequities have the effect of penalizing families who choose to have one parent in the work force and the other caring for the children full-time.   In addition, they disadvantage such couples and their children by limiting the choice of which parent will be a full-time caregiver.  Although similarly situated married couples may choose which parent will fulfill that role without consequence, lesbian and gay couples, as well as other unmarried couples, face negative tax consequences for the same decision.

You may exclude up to $250,000 of profit due to the sale of your personal principal residence from taxable income.   If you should get married and file jointly you may exclude up to $500,000 on the sale of your home.  Lesbian and gay couples marriages are not recognized by the federal government and therefore cannot file jointly, are therefore taxed unfairly on all gain above $250,000.

Your surviving spouse is exempt from estate taxes transferred from your estate upon your death. For same-sex couples, this exemption is not available, creating another unequal tax.

Your surviving spouse may transfer plan benefits to an IRA or a retirement plan in which he or she is a participant upon inheritance.  This is important because  it allows your surviving spouse to defer taxation of the proceeds, perhaps even until she is in a lower tax bracket; and because it protects your spouse from being forced to withdraw from an investment program when its value is down.  Because gay and lesbian couples are treated the same as strangers under federal tax and pension law, they may not transfer plan benefits without incurring significant penalties, and cannot withdraw funds when they choose.

Jim and Stan have been in a committed relationship for over 15 years.   They are registered as domestic partners in Washington, D.C..  They have taken every legal step available to formalize their relationship and protect themselves, legally and financially.  Jim participated in his employer’s 401(k) plan, naming Stan as the primary beneficiary.  Stan purchased an IRA.  While driving to his job, Jim is killed in a car accident.  Stan does not have the option to transfer Jim’s 401(k) funds into his existing IRA because, under current law, only a “spouse” may roll over 401(k) and/or inherited IRA upon the death of a plan participant.  Stan must then take the entire proceeds of the inherited 401(k) in a lump sum and pay taxes on them immediately (at a much higher rate) rather than rolling it over tax free into his own name as a surviving spouse can do.

You are guaranteed family and medical leave to care for parents, children or your spouse.   This law does not provide leave to care for a domestic partner or the domestic partner’s family member.

If you should happen to find a wife who is currently not a U.S. citizen, you are eligible to petition for her to immigrate. (Approximately 75% of the one million green cards or immigrant visas issued each year are granted to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents).  Under current immigration law domestic partners are not eligible to immigrate as family.  Thousands of lesbian and gay couples are forced to separate under this law or live in constant fear of deportation.  In some cases, they even face prosecution by INS. Fifteen countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom recognize lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of immigration.

According to the Government Accountability Office Report, marital status affects over 270 provisions dealing with current and retired federal employees, members of the Armed Forces, elected officials, and judges.   Under current law, domestic partners of federal employees are excluded from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (Which you and your spouse would be eligible for).  Although married couples are eligible for reimbursement for expenses, expenses incurred by a domestic partner are not.   As of August 2003, nine states and the District of Columbia and 322 local governments offer health benefits to the domestic partners of their public employees, while the federal government does not.

You and your future spouse are eligible for COBRA benefits.  An increasing number of employers, including 198 of the Fortune 500, now offer their employees domestic partner benefits.  However, the Federal COBRA law does not require employers to provide extended coverage for domestic partners like it does married couples.  Under 29 U.S.C. § 1167, an employer is only required to offer continuation coverage to the employee and to “qualified beneficiaries,” which are defined as the employee’s spouse and dependent children, regardless of whether the employee’s original benefits plan covered other people (read their domestic partner).  Because of the narrow definition of “spouse” under federal law, employees are not guaranteed continued coverage for their domestic partners.

There is one more thing I would like to point out. DOMA defines marriage as: “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and spouse as: ” a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife”. In her post today entitled, “One Man, One Woman”… Really?, Anya Cordell discusses how this definition breaks down when discussing the reality of human sexuality.

Yes, there are those who apparently neatly fit in these two categories; those with the requisite anatomies, who do not chafe at being the gender with which they are identified.

But overarching laws, policies, practices, and customs should be fair and just for all, not just for a proportion of a population. Such justice is what law is designed to protect.

The fact is, biologically and scientifically, that gender identity exists on a continuum, which is imprecise and indefinable, as opposed to two perfectly distinct categories into which every human can be assigned, and the discussion can be shut down…

We must, therefore, question this notion that “man” and “woman” are perfectly valid legal designations for humans, any more than configuration or color are allowed — any longer — to classify anyone as not fully, legally, human.

Why does not this issue, alone, put an end to the discussion of marriage equality, under the law, and even under religious institutions? Should religions blithely dismiss a percentage of humans, (those who are intersex, as the clearest example), from having the rights to love another, and form the bonds of family life? When religions make decrees and proclamations in terms of “male” and “female”, it is inconvenient when gender is not clear cut, but mustn’t the essential question, “Who is human?”, override “Who is a man or a woman?” If religions cannot grapple with such an appropriate question, then how valid can we hold such religions? (Convention alone cannot hold sway; science pushed even religions to eventually acknowledge the world is not flat; the sun does not revolve around the earth.)

I know for some of you this is making your heads explode right now. That’s okay. I get it. But as long as I have breath in me I hope I will have the courage to speak for the outlier as Jesus did. And when you read the feedback I received from a new friend today on Facebook I hope you will know why I continue.

Thank you for your blog today…my dear friend Janine (name changed to protect privacy) turned me onto you…I am a gay man of faith who wasted too much of his life hiding in fear and though I’m out of the closet now, I live every day with the consequences of having hidden who God made me to be for so long.

I am particularly struck by your stance on the gay marriage issue given you don’t have a gay loved one in your life that you’re advocating for…even my own family, who claim to support who I am, don’t speak out on these issues…you truly epitomize what it means to be Christ-like.

So today thanks to you, I am not just a gay man of faith but a GRATEFUL gay man of faith.

ADDENDUM: The above doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface by the way. These are just the legalities. When was the last time you were threatened or harassed simply because you were on a date with a member of the opposite sex? When was the last time you were denied service because you were straight? When were you last told God hated you because of something you had no choice in? When did you get passed over for a promotion or a job because you were straight? Just some food for thought…

This video is a bonus and brought tears to my eyes. I hope you enjoy it.

Love is not silent.


martin_luther_words_enemies

I was asked this weekend why I felt I needed to be an advocate for the homosexual community. Why me? I am not a lesbian after all. I have no close gay relatives.  Why do I feel like I need to be the one who speaks out about worship equality (Yes, I made that up and remember you heard it here first) and marriage equality. 

[Since I just made up a term I suppose I should define it for you. Here we go. Worship equality is the radical notion that God created us equal, that we each bear in us the image of God, and that we can and should all (regardless of gender or orientation) be welcomed to worship him with all our heart, soul mind and strength and that we should be encouraged to love people (our neighbors), all people as we love ourselves. This encompasses the radical notion that women are people and are equal in every way to men (notice equal DOES NOT SAY the same in every way, I am not the same as my husband just as I am not the same as any woman) and also that our LGBT brothers and sisters are equal to their straight counterparts in the eyes of God and therefore in our own.]

My friend also asked me what exactly it is that I am advocating and how I could be for marriage equality both in the public sector and as a Christian when (as he said) the Bible clearly calls all gay sex sin. My answer is simple. Politically, I am for marriage equality because anything else violates the equal protection clause. As an American and as a Christian I believe in an individual’s freedom and therefore I will not support legislation against marriage equality (indeed I will advocate for it to be overturned). Also, when people want to make laws against something purely because they believe it is biblical or Christian  I always ask, who’s version of the Bible shall we base the laws on? May I wear pants? May I drink alcohol? May I dance? May I eat shell fish? Of course the answer is really always (when you get down to brass tacks) the version of Christianity that person espouses (things really get sticky if you ask if people of other faith traditions, should they become the majority, start making Christians follow Sharia?). This is America. We are not truly free, unless we are all free. I would like to humbly suggest we remember that our forefathers and mothers wanted religious freedom. They did NOT want the government to tell them which religion to practice or how to practice it. You are free to believe what you will. You are just not free to force others to live by your convictions (incidentally this means they also are not free to force you to practice theirs.

As far as the Christian side goes. My answer is also simple. I believe that all the “so called” clobber passages (if they are even talking about homosexual relations) can be categorized in one of three ways or a combination thereof: idol worship, prostitution and/or pedophilia. I have already done extensive writing on all of these passages in my Homosexuality & God series from last year. I hope you will take a few minutes out to read these as it may, at the minimum, give you some food for thought. (I have come back and put this in bold because I have people asking my scriptural basis for my statements and I realized they were missing this link as they read. I hope this helps.)

Now my friend is like many Christians I know personally. He falls into the camp that says we should always love everyone God puts into our lives as completely as possible as God has equipped us gay or straight. He knows many LGBT people both privately and professionally and he treats them all with dignity and respect. He does however believe (at least currently) that the act of homosexual sex, no matter the context, is always sin. He also understands that he and I differ on this point. What he doesn’t get is why I feel the need to be an advocate. He wonders what it is that makes me write these posts and to have conversations in which I try to persuade people to my perspective. I will tell you what I told him. What if there were no advocates? Nothing would change. Without William Wilberforce or someone like him there would still be slave ships sailing legally, families being split apart and human beings who bear the very image of God being sold at auction to the highest bidder. LEGALLY. Without advocates, from outside an oppressed group it is much easier for the status quo to roll on decade after decade and century after century. Why do I advocate? How can I not? How can I be silent? Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”  Throughout history everyday people have stood up and cried out,

“THIS MUST STOP!”

William Wilberforce, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Harvey Milk, Oscar Schindler:  You can still hear them if you listen closely. Their voices can still be heard in every human heart that cries out for freedom and justice. Bob Dylan has an amazing song called What Good Am I in which he says, “If I shut myself off, so I can’t hear you cry…What good Am I?” What good Am I indeed? How can it be love if I stand silent when I could have spoken?

So today again I raise my voice and join their sad and beautiful and victorious song. Their song that still plays on

So today I say to gender inequality, “THIS MUST STOP!”

I say to marriage inequality, “THIS MUST STOP!”

I say to bullying, “THIS MUST STOP!”

I say to use of words like, “fag”, “retard” and “slut” to insult people and dehumanize them, “THIS MUST STOP!”

I say to female genital mutilation, “THIS MUST STOP!”

I say to the killing of babies just for being female, “THIS MUST STOP!”

I say to rape culture, “THIS MUST STOP!”

I say to human trafficking, “THIS MUST STOP!”

Why do I speak, because silence is deadly.

Margaret Cho said in her poignant response to Michelle Shocked’s tirade, “…the effect of someone saying “God hates fags” can never be underestimated either. It’s a license to kill. It’s a death sentence, It’s not funny. It’s not OK…there is this idea that it is OK to kill us, that it doesn’t matter if we die.” You see, when people are dehumanized (women, LGBT or otherwise); when people believe that someone is hated by an “all loving God” then it becomes okay for them to be spat on, beaten, bullied and even killed.

I simply must not be silent. I cannot stop. I am not naïve. I know there is only so much I can do with my little soapbox. But it is WHAT I CAN DO. And so I do it. I stand with Jennifer Knapp when she said in her article today entitled, Acknowledging Faith Voices Crucial for LGBT Civil Rights,

“…now we recognize that silence is too easily confused with consent for injustice.”

And I will tell you this, when I receive a letter that says, I was rejected by my church and my parents I thought God rejected me too. I thought I was disqualified from having a relationship with God. I was told God hates me. Because of you, I now know that God does love me and that he still wants me;  how can I stop?

This is what I was made to do. I don’t know what else to do on this day but stand on the side of love and tell you that God has gay children and he loves them. And to hatred and bigotry I say, “This MUST stop!”

Before The Supreme Court Considers Gay Marriage, An American Change Of Heart

INTERVIEW: Rob Bell on Why He Supports Gay Marriage

Acknowledging Faith Voices Crucial for LGBT Civil Rights by Jennifer Knapp

http://godlessliberals.com/Pix/liz-feldman-gay-lunch.html

“All right, then, I’ll go to hell” – Rachel Held Evans

Is abolition “biblical”? – Rachel Held Evans

FROM MY BLOG:

Coming Out of the Church Closet: Bethany’s Story

Pray Away the Gay

Who Can Withhold the Water?

The True Magic Kingdom

WHAT IS TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE ANYWAY?

https://wordofawoman.com/page/2/?s=homosexuality

Without feminism… (And a nod to Ms. Stiles)

Today I met a car salesman named Chris who grew up as the child of a single mother. We talked about a lot of things in the downtime of “doing a deal”. We talked politics, religion, marriage equality and feminism. I love meeting men who celebrate and even champion equality. So, good job Ms. Stiles. You raised one of the good ones. In your honor here is my list of things we would lose we’re it not for women like you and men like your son.

Without Feminism you lose…

Your property

Your right to vote

Your autonomy

Your right to decide where, when and whom  you marry

Your bank account

Your right to inherit

Your right not to be abused

Your right to drive

Your right to leave home with out a male family member

Your right to wear what you wish

Your right to education

Your right to choose when or whether you become a parent

Your right to travel without permission

Your right to choose where and when you have sex

And so much more.

Mad Men (and Women) of Christianity


image

I know we are way behind but my husband and I just started watching Mad Men from the beginning on Netflix. Last night after watching the second episode, Kent turned to me and said, “Do you know why I like this show? Besides the great acting, writing and to-the-t period stuff?”
“No,” I said, “What?”
“This show is a perfect illustration of what people mean when they say they want to go back to the good old days. It’s how guys like Driscoll and Piper wish it was.”

I have been thinking about this ever since he said it last night.
At the time my mind immediately went to another blog written by Ben Ponder, editor-at-large for mediarostra.com which I read a while back. In it Mr. Ponder asserts that,

“Family” is the euphemistic code du jour for “Evangelical Christian.” “Focus on the Evangelical Christian” and the “American Evangelical Christian Association” didn’t have the same zing to them as their familiar twins. The watchword for these organizations is the preservation of “traditional family values,” which are, in a nutshell, white American family values from a period of 1939 to 1964. The family values constituency longs for a return to the virginal time before the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Vietnam War, the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, John Lennon, and Rock Hudson made the world a more complicated place.
When I read the Bible, I get the distinct sense that Jesus wasn’t interested in saving the nuclear family from a windy onslaught of liberal opinions. I rather get the impression that he was concerned with diving headfirst into the unvarnished messiness of the human condition and saving us—as individuals, as families, as communities, as people—from our own unhinged self-absorption and festering lovelessness.

I also remembered a scene from Modern Family which I told you all about in The Will of the People. The scene takes place between Jay and Gloria.

“Jay: This weekend we’re going up to Pebble Beach. I’m gonna meet a bunch of guys I played high school football with. Man, those were the good old days.
Gloria: Yeah, unless you were a woman, black, Hispanic, or gay.
Jay: But if you were a straight white football player you couldn’t have a bad day.”

I am sure most of the folks nostalgic for a time gone by prefer to think of it like Leave It to Beaver where everything is clean and sanitized and the worst you have to worry about is Eddie Haskel and his mischievous ways. Mad Men is a more unvarnished look back that doesn’t gloss over the messiness of life. Honestly lovelies, neither is a perfect picture. They are both fiction. However we are talking about a real period of American life that is often pointed to by christians in general and evangelicals in particular, as a time when things were simpler, better and frankly closer to what God intended. After all, the marriages and families I see in the Bible look just like the Cunningham’s on Happy Days. 😉

Personally, I have no desire to go back to the way things were.

Christian Piatt wrote a great article about a year ago titled: GOP Nostalgia? Only Christian White Men were Better Off Back Then in which he said in part,

The fact is that, unless you’re a white, Christian, straight male, there’s little to look back to and say “yeah, I was better off back then.”… To call for a return to the good old days is, in some ways, a marginalization of those for whom history has meant progress. For the majority of Americans today, turning back the clock means losing ground, acceding power or opportunity and returning to a time of greater imbalance and division.”

Sadly, the church, whom I love seems to be stuck in a nostalgic longing that is really nothing more than a mirage. It offers the illusion of a cold drink of water but for many they find only a mouthful of sand and the scorching wind of shame. Heck even some of us raised in the church who know how beautiful and life-giving our communities truly can be, all to often have found our mouths filled with sand rather than the cool and refreshing living water.

Those who feel their privilege slipping away continue to grasp at an unhealthy nostalgia responsible for keeping the church on the wrong side of history way to often. It is what makes and has made people justify slavery and segregation or oppose women’s suffrage, a woman’s right to own property, interracial marriage, women in church leadership and gay marriage. (Even when people believe they are excluding people because of unrepentant sin I still call B.S. as we often hold the door open with a big smile for people who continue to stumble when it comes to gluttony, lust, gossip and lying while slamming the door in the face of homosexuals under the guise of “unrepentance”.) When people perceive their place of privilege is slipping away, rather than rejoicing that others will share in the freedom and forgiveness which they have enjoyed, often defend and set up barriers that push people further away from Jesus. Once again, someone else addresses this issue of priviledge much better than I can. I encourage you to read The Distress of the Priviledged by Doug Muder. He explains it like this:

As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.

Then this morning as lady luck or Sarah Bessey would have it, I woke up to a post which exposes another facet of the mirage with a fierce and brave vulnerability. In Which I am Damaged Goods is a post way too many of us could have written. Sarah shares a time when she was served the sand of shame and judgement rather than the living water of love and forgiveness. She was taught that because she was a woman who had been sexually active she was damaged beyond repair and that she should be thankful if there was a christian man out there who would have her as a wife. While this may seem at first blush unrelated to a nostalgia for an earlier time, rest assured, it is. It is nostalgia for a time when a girl who gets pregnant (not the boy of course) would be sent away “to camp” for the summer or a divorcee would automatically be viewed as desperate, a home wrecker or “hot to trot”. “Oh Myyyyy,” as George Takai would say. With just a few google searches you can find church leader after church leader (including women) who will state unequivocally or simply subtly imply that women’s sexuality and/or women in general are something to be feared, suppressed and even demonized. Tertullian went as far as describing woman as the root of all evil. This is yet another mirage of sinking sand that brings death, shame and bondage rather than life, reconciliation and freedom. A current hotly debated question in the church is, “Why are young people leaving in droves?” Perhaps it is partly because they are tired of receiving a glass of sand when they are begging for water.

Please lovelies, let us remember this, Jesus came not to condemn (John 3:17) but to bring freedom and forgiveness.

This of course is just one example. The non-drinkers exclude the drinkers, the men exclude the women, the heterosexuals exclude the LGBT community, the races exclude each other, the hits just keep on coming and love loses –or so it seems. As a friend of mine (I can’t remember who, if it is you send me a note so I can give you credit) said in a Facebook post this week, many in the church upon arriving at the banquet to which they themselves were uninvited have set themselves up as doorkeepers, judging who is and who is not worthy to enter. Do they not see the irony? None of us were invited –yet we got to come in. And now here they sit callously turning away those whom Jesus would let in. Let that not be me. I say swing wide the doors; Come in. Taste and see that He is good.

As always my lovelies, I remain hopeful. Behold, Jesus is making all things new. He is NOT making all things the way they used to be. He is making all things NEW! Make no mistake, love will win. Look around. There are more and more people who shout and whisper and sing, “Come in! Come in! All are welcome. There is enough living water for us all.

LORD JESUS, May my judgements never push people away from you. Please show mercy to those who having already received grace for themselves would push away others whom you came for. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. AMEN.

——————————

As we were driving home I was reminded of the song Pieces of You by Jewel.  It drove home the point that we are all connected. When we exclude, shame and hurt each other we cut off our nose to spite our face. Any damage we do to each other, we do to ourselves.

She’s an ugly girl, does it make you want to kill her?
She’s an ugly girl, do you want to kick in her face?
She’s an ugly girl, she doesn’t pose a threat.
She’s an ugly girl, does she make you feel safe?
Ugly girl, ugly girl, do you hate her
‘Cause she’s pieces of you.

She’s a pretty girl, does she make you think nasty thoughts?
She’s a pretty girl, do you want to tie her down?
She’s a pretty girl, do you call her a bitch?
She’s a pretty girl, did she sleep with your whole town?
Pretty girl, pretty girl, do you hate her
‘Cause she’s pieces of you.

You say he’s a faggot, does it make you want to hurt him?
You say he’s a faggot, do you want to bash in his brain?
You say he’s a faggot, does he make you sick to our stomach?
You say he’s a faggot, are you afraid you’re just the same?
Faggot, Faggot, do you hate him
‘Cause he’s pieces of you?

You say he’s a Jew, does it mean that he’s tight?
You say he’s a Jew, do you want to hurt his kids tonight?
You say he’s a Jew, he’ll never wear that funny hat again.
You say he’s a Jew, as though being born were a sin.
Oh Jew, oh Jew, do you hate him
‘Cause he’s pieces of you.

365: looking forward to 2013

mapWell, I did it. A whole year of blogging. It has been quite a ride let me tell you. 2012 was at once an amazing year of greatness and a year of painful loss; for example this year I celebrated 25 years of marriage to my amazing best friend and this year we buried his Dad.  What a dichotomy.

As you may or may not have noticed (I like to think that at least some of you noticed) I have not done much writing in the last several weeks. Believe me it hasn’t been for lack of material or ideas but rather because life has been a bit on the full side. It is funny and I never would have believed I would say this before starting this blog on a complete whim…but I missed writing. A LOT.

I would like to close out the year by saying thank you to all of you who have read and commented, subscribed and shared and liked my Facebook page. You have turned what was a little spark of an idea into something beyond what I would have imagined. Because of you the site has reached 32,945 page views and has been seen in 152 countries! Holy crap!!

You have also made 794 comments and shared my page 348 times. Thank you.

This year I wrote 110 posts covering politics, religion, sexuality, equality, art, science, poetry and lots of personal stuff.

Here are your top 20 posts by number of page views:

  1. God and Homosexuality: Parts 6 and 7 – Pornoi, Arsenokoitai and Malakoi
  2. Pray Away the Gay?
  3. What is Traditional Marriage Anyway?
  4. God and Homosexuality: Part 1
  5. So She Did. A Word of Encouragement to Women…and Men.
  6. God and Homsexuality: Part 4 – “Eunuchs Who Have Been So From Birth”
  7. Why I Love Being a Woman
  8. Why Do Christians Curse the Silence?
  9. Dear John Piper, Would You Like a Ride on my Toboggan?
  10. Today My Daughter’s World Changed and It Broke My Heart
  11. If all are Martha Stewart where is Amelia Earhart?
  12. Sometimes I Grow Weary of the Fight
  13. Homosexuality and God: Conclusion
  14. Memes the Word.
  15. Raped Too Much?
  16. Boys Will Be Boys?
  17. The Closest Friends I’ve Never Met and an Unladylike Manifesto
  18. I Choose Chow Fun’s
  19. Your Existence Gives me Hope
  20. Why I’m Voting for President Obama  (a guest post by my awesome husband)

I am also going to include here some links for posts you may have missed that I think you may want to revisit (as they say on American Idol, “In no particular order.”).

Here is to the next year my lovelies and here’s to you. May it be our best year yet.

The Dark Stories

“Those who seek to glorify biblical womanhood have forgotten the dark stories. They have forgotten that the concubine of Bethlehem, the raped princess of David’s house, the daughter of Jephthah, and the countless unnamed women who lived and died between the lines of Scripture exploited, neglected, ravaged and crushed at the hand of patriarchy are as much a part of our shared narrative as Deborah, Esther, Rebekah and Ruth…it is our responsibility to guard the dark stories for our own daughters, and when they are old enough, to hold their faces between our hands an make them promise to remember.” -Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood

I am loving this book so far. Rachel’s point in this chapter is that not all (or maybe not any) of what is recorded (and not recorded) about Biblical womanhood looks like 1950s America and June Cleaver. Sometimes it is ugly and sometimes Biblical women were mistreated or killed in the name of serving God. That makes God sick to His stomach and that should make us sick to our stomachs as well. It is not God’s design for His daughters that they be held under the thumb of abuse and oppression in order for Him to receive glory. Not my God. Not my Jesus.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

The Spirit of The Lord is upon me, because he has appointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. Luke 4:18

Just me and Dad.

My father-in-law and I only ever did one thing completely on our own. We went shopping for lingerie. Now there is a statement that just begs for an explanation.

A few years ago Mom and Dad came to visit us in Thousand Oaks for the holidays. Shortly after their arrival my father-in-law pulled me aside and with a twinkle in his eye he asked me if I would help him buy a very special gift for my mother-in-law. Of course I agreed and later that week we made up some reason to go out and we went to the mall. Now, if you knew Kent you would know that shopping was NOT his favorite thing to do and shopping for women’s clothes was certainly among his least favorite things to shop for. And, well, shopping at the mall on the week of Christmas? Now that was unheard of.

I had never seen him like this before. Jean had recently lost a lot of weight and he was so proud of her that he wanted to buy her something very special. He kept reiterating to me that he had never bought anything like this before and that it had to be just the right thing. We went to several stores. He was serious about making a thorough search. Our shopping eventually led us to the mecca of lingerie – Victoria’s Secret. Now Dad was not out to buy mom something that he thought he would like to see her in, he was out to buy something for her to make her feel special. He selected a lovely nightgown and a satin robe. It was beautiful and he decided it was perfect. My father-in-law was not known for being showy. But that day he wanted the full effect. He wanted the metallic pink striped gift box, the pink tissue paper and the gift bag. When we arrived back at our condo, we left the bag in the trunk of the car. We waited for our moment when the coast was clear and then we hid the bag in the back, under the tree, behind all the other packages. He wanted it to be a surprise. He wanted it to be last. He wanted her to feel like she was valued and important and beautiful. She is all that.

Today, my Dad and I did something else together. Just me and Dad.

Today I went down to my local Post Office with a little manilla card in my hand. It said I had a registered package that I had not been home to receive yesterday. I waited my turn. The woman working the window motioned for me to come forward. It was my turn. I handed her my card, signed it and she checked my identification. Then she disappeared into the back room. She had to come back and check the card. The next time she came back she was holding a box. She gave it to me and I took it knowing what or rather who was inside. It was a smallish box, brown cardboard like most and I carried it to my car. I got in the car and placed the box on the passenger seat. As I was pulling out of the parking lot I reached over to touch the top of the box.

My father-in-law donated the use of his body to science through a group called Science Care. He and Mom made this decision together as they wanted to help others in death as in life. My father-in-law hoped that with his last act he would be able to contribute to someone else’s healing.

When we got the news that my father-in-law had passed we had just come through security at DFW to wait for our flight to Phoenix as we knew he was not going to be getting better and had been moved to hospice. My husband’s knees buckled and he crumpled to the floor in my arms. I cried with him. I cried for him.

When you give your body to be used for research, they come to get it within 2 hours. My husband and I were not there in time to see his Dad before they came to take his body away. Now I know, that what they came to get, was merely his lifeless body, not him. Not who he is. But nevertheless, it made the whole experience seem even less real and more dream like.

We went to Phoenix; we gathered with the family; we reminisced with friends; we celebrated his life. I cried. I cried for Mom. I cried for Kent. I cried for their friends. I cried for the family. But I still didn’t or couldn’t begin to really mourn like he was gone. It just didn’t seem real. I knew it was. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I touched that box on my front seat. It was real. He was real. He loved me. He took out my trash and fought with my husband and I about whether Lady Gaga has any talent.  He enjoyed a good drink and gave us all funny nicknames and loved to see people enjoy a good meal. He swam in the pool and drank margaritas with us just 2 months ago. He loved to watch sports and he always made sure he was close to the phone every night for his call from Kent. He was strong and loud and quiet and funny and stern and loving and smart and kind and he would have loved that he got a one-way ticket here for just $26.26. “Now that is a good buy,” he would have said.

He was with us, just two and a half weeks ago and now all that was left of him here and now in this time and place was in this box on my front seat. I bawled. No really. I stopped the car and bawled. Snot. Sobbing. Real. 

We drove home. Just me and Dad.

When we got home I carried the box inside. I hugged it. I hugged that damn box and I cried and cried. This was our moment. I NEEDED to open that box. I didn’t want his remains in a shipping box. Why? I don’t know. I opened it. Inside was baby blue wrapping and just under that was a certificate of cremation. On the end of the box it has his name. I bawled again. I carried the box in and placed it gently on my husband’s desk. I am not sure what happens now. Except this.

I had to come and write it down. I guess this is what I do now. It is funny. I never used to do this.

I want to leave you with one last thing my lovelies. Life, it is real, and so is death. Death sucks but love wins. Love wins. Love wins. Love wins. My husband will see his Dad again. My Mom will hold the love of her life again. We will laugh again. We will eat a big ass steak again. What we won’t do with Dad, is cry again. When next I am with you Dad and we get to do something, just you and me, let’s take a walk by the crystal sea, eh? Or maybe sit in the pool and drink margaritas. I wonder if heaven has a swim up bar?

 

Read more here: Cancer, Family & Hope

 

Cancer, Family and Hope

So, this week I am feeling all kinds of everything all at once. My emotions are raw and all at the surface. As one of my favorite friends said yesterday, “there is usually an imaginary net that helps keep it all in and lets it out in a controlled way almost. This kind of stuff just tears the net down and it all comes out whenever and wherever and anything can set it off.”

Truth my lovelies. TRUTH.

My father-in law is, as we speak, in a hospice bed in Phoenix living out his last days of this life. I am sad beyond words.

Today I helped make reservations for the last two of his grandchildren to be able to come and see him and tell him again how much he has meant to each of them. I am heartbroken to be seeing them under such circumstances but my arms ache to hold them and to remind them of why they are special to me. One of them in particular I have not seen in over 10 years and I have joy beyond telling at just the thought of hugging his neck (although I think I may need a step stool to do it from what I hear).

Worst of all is my favorite person, Kent sits at work today with his heart bursting with love and pain and loss and my heart breaks with his for the looming death of his Dad, the man who has helped make him who he is and loves him without condition. He is his advisor, sports buddy and sounding board; they talk every day on his ride home from work and his passing will leave a gaping hole in his day and in his heart. I hate that and I hate cancer for causing it.

Since I came on the scene in 1986, I have become the third daughter. I am not treated in anyway as an in-law but as a full member of the Krabill clan. I am one of their own. We do not share the same blood but we have become a whole, granted we are a bit crazy and occasionally a tad dysfunctional but we are fully part of each other and we love and sacrifice and pull together for each other. We bear each other’s burdens, we bicker just a little but when the shit hits the fan, you can count on us to be there for each other. It is what we do. It is the heart of the Krabill family and I am proud to be one of them.

Wednesday night we will get on a plane and head back to Phoenix to be with them. There is nowhere on earth I would be instead. I want to be there to slobber all over them and have them slobber all over me. I want to laugh until I can’t breathe and cry until there are no more tears. I want to eat and drink and talk and remember and celebrate the man we are coming together to honor. My other Dad, Kent Loren Krabill. He is a man of faith and a man of honor who served his country, provided well for his family and loves them so fully I think it surprises him sometimes. He is ornery and stubborn and gentle and wise. I am proud to be a part of him and have him be a part of me. He is my friend.

But, my lovelies, as my daughter said this week: This is not the end. No this is not the end for my Dad, or for our family or for anyone who lives this life. No. There is more to this story. We have a hope bigger than cancer and greater than death and his name is Jesus. He loves all and gave all to be with all. That is why he came.

There is an excerpt from The Silver chair in which Caspian, the beloved King of Narnia dies and is taken to Aslan’s country. It is one of my favorite things ever.

Then Eustace set his teeth and drove the thorn into the Lion’s pad. And there came out a great drop of blood, redder than all redness that you have ever seen or imagined. And it splashed into the stream over the dead body of the King. At the same moment the doleful music stopped. And the dead King began to be changed. His white beard turned to grey, and from grey to yellow, and got shorter and vanished all together; and his shrunken cheeks grew round and fresh, and the wrinkles were smoothed, and his eyes opened, and his lips both laughed, and suddenly  he leaped up and stood before them–a very young man, or a boy. (But Jill couldn’t say which, because of people having no particular ages in Aslan’s country…

That is always the way I have pictured it. C.S. Lewis captured it best and I have often recalled it as I have experienced the passing of someone I love who has grown weary and whose body has just given way; first my Grandma Elliott and then my Grandpa Morr who were in the end robbed of the joy that characterized them both. And now, as I face the probable passing of a man I dearly love I can’t help but feel the anticipation of the day I will see them all in the new heavens and new Earth with their vitality restored and their joy renewed. Paul said in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

On that day, my lovelies, this cancer that robs us today will appear very small and weak in the shadow of the love that will transform and is transforming us into who we were always meant to be.

Her mouth said no, but she got pregnant anyway.

So as you may have heard this week Rep. Todd Akin had some truly mortifying things to say about rape.

” First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Mr. Akin speaks of punishing the rapist and not attacking the child, but what sir of the WOMAN? Shall we punish her as well? I find it telling that Mr.Akin chooses to focus on both the rapist and the baby but completely ignores the woman stuck in the middle. In fact, Mr. Akin’s entire statement here reduces the very real victims of rape to “the female body”. Perhaps he needs to read the article I read today by  on the Huffington Post about how an actual rape victims felt upon reading his statement.

“Rape is so isolating — it ruined my world for a long time,” Law, now 43, said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “If I had had to carry that rapist’s baby to term, quite honestly, I might have taken my life.”

Law said she couldn’t believe her eyes on Sunday when she read that Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri declare in an interview that pregnancy from “legitimate rape” is “really rare” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

“First of all, what is legitimate rape?” she asked. “Whether it’s date rape, whether the woman was beaten to a pulp, whether it’s a 14 or 15-year old kid carrying her father’s child, it doesn’t matter. Having to deliver the baby of a rapist — that’s torture.”

Another rape survivor in Missouri was so incensed by Akin’s comment that she called into St. Louis television station KTVI to share her feelings. “It was like I had been slapped,” she told the anchor. “I heard that comment and I just began to shake. I was fit to be tied.”

The second question that comes to mind is, how exactly does Mr. Akin think that the woman’s body differentiates between rapist sperm and consensual sperm?  Seriously?!?  I certainly hope he wouldn’t suggest that most of the 35k+ women who are impregnated every year as a result of rape must have actually wanted it or they wouldn’t be pregnant. My guess is he would say that is preposterous; however, it is the logical conclusion of his statement.

I find it fascinating that a man who will never have to worry about carrying a child who is the product of rape is presuming to tell women who have been how they should feel and what they should do. Don’t get me wrong, men can be and are raped. “About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime,” according to the National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, 1998.  The number for women increases to about 1 in 6. The crime is just as violent and shame inducing for a man as it is for a woman however; the man will never be faced with having to carry to term and deliver the child of their attacker. There are 435 voting members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate. If the statistics were the same for them as it were for the female population 79 of them would be victims of completed rape, 15 of them would be the victims of attempted rape and 4 of them would be pregnant by their attackers. If this were the case I seriously doubt we would be having the same discussion.

This whole thing brings to mind another post I wrote a few months ago called “Raped Too Much”. In which I discussed Liz Trotta’s comments about how women in the military should stop complaining about being “raped too much”.  Statements such as the ones made by Ms. Trotta and Mr. Akin continue to add to what is referred to as “rape culture”. In her book Shakesville, Melissa McEwan defined rape culture this way:

Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.

Apparently now we must also worry about whether our body will betray us by not discerning the rape sperm from the consensual ones and allowing us to become pregnant. Or God forbid proving that a woman actually wanted to have sex with her attacker. The whole thing kind of gives new meaning to “her mouth said no but her [fill in the body part] said yes.”

Just for the record. I do believe in the sanctity of life. I am against late term and partial birth abortion except to save the life of the mother. I believe abortion should happen as rarely as possible. I do not believe people like Mr. Akin have any business criminalizing a woman who chooses not to carry and deliver the child of her rapist. How can that be justice?

i can’t live with that

 

hold me closer

i can’t feel you yet

tighter

i need to forget

or maybe to remember

that i’m not dead yet

please don’t let go

it is too much like dying

and i cant be without you right now

i can still see the box closing

on a friend too young to die

if you let me go

it feels like i may lose you

forever

i cant live

with that