For the love of God (and our neighbor) can we please stop using these 3 phrases?

Lovegodandneighbor

There are 3 phrases Christians love to use regarding homosexuality that I wish would just go away. They belie our claim to love God and our neighbor (If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. –1 John 4:20-21) You may think I am not being fair by using that verse and you may not even hate your LGBT brothers and sisters but if you know a LGBT person ask him or her whether these phrases communicate love or hate to them.

“I disagree with homosexuality.”

“You Can’t Be Christian and Gay.”

and

“Love the sinner. Hate the sin.”

I disagree with homosexuality

I have seen this phrase or its sibling “I don’t agree with homosexuality” all over the place. Just google it and you’ll see what I mean. This statement makes no sense on several levels. First of all grammatically (I can’t be the only one who sees this). How can one disagree with something that isn’t an idea or a hypothesis or even a theory but actually a factual thing. Homosexuality is a real thing. Saying you disagree with it is like saying you disagree with the sun or the color green. I personally disagree with gravity so I think I will go fly now. I think this is a big disconnect for me. When you try to persuade me that you are indeed correct by starting with “I disagree with homosexuality…” you lose me right away. Saying you disagree with homosexuality sounds like you are either denying it exists at all or that you believe people wake up one day and choose to be attracted to members of the same sex (jut like they woke up one day and chose to be attracted to people of the opposite sex). Can we all please agree that grammatically this is just not the right way to say what you really mean?

The second way in which this phrase is all kinds of jacked up, is Scientifically. That same sex attraction (i.e. homosexuality) exists is a scientific fact. To say you “disagree with homosexuality” is simply a denial of the facts.

I think Mr. Broussard and those who I have seen use this statement fall into two camps. Those who actually believe that homosexuality is a choice and would not exist at all if everyone actually chose to obey God and be heterosexual. They believe the simple fact that a person is attracted to members of the same sex is a sin, period whether they ever act upon those attractions or not and that in a sinless world those attractions would not exist. To take that to its logical extreme no one will be gay in heaven. (Try if you will, to separate yourself from your sexuality if you are straight, can you do it? Isn’t that inherently a part of who you are?) Those in the second camp are the ones who don’t really mean they disagree with homosexuality so much as they disagree with people acting on their attractions, living what they perceive as “the gay lifestyle” (Excellent article by Justin Lee on this.), or legalizing same sex marriage. These folks believe homosexual practice is a sin, like any other sin that can be repented of and forgiven.

Love the sinner. Hate the sin.

Often times these are the folks in the “love the sinner, hate the sin” camp. On the blog, Disoriented. Reoriented., I found this quote regarding LTSHTS:

Further, it is not actually a biblical phrase. To paraphrase Andrew Marin in his video accompaniment to Love Is an Orientation, “There are plenty of places in the Bible where Jesus tells us to love sinners. And there are plenty of places where we are told to hate sin. But nowhere are those concepts put together.” In fact, Jesus’ message to us does not appear to be “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but to “love the sinner and hate our own sin.” Marin quotes Billy Graham: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”)

This camp includes the folks who say gay people do exist but they can’t be Christian unless and until they repent. Chris Broussard falls into this category. This week in his on air rant on ESPN Mr. Broussard said the following:

“If you’re openly living that type of [homosexual] lifestyle, then the Bible says you should know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin,” Broussard said on ESPN show Outside The Lines. “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality….I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

You Can’t Be Christian and Gay

This phrase is patently false and is even contradicted by the people who use it when they then turn around and say well, you can, as long as you repent, and get back on the wagon, like an alcoholic or a liar or a glutton or any other sinner.

Yesterday the Huffington Post reported on an interview Broussard gave on the radio where he did exactly that. He explained his first statement and back pedaled a bit by saying this:

The life of a Christian, Broussard explained, means having to constantly fight temptation. “And if you stumble and fall, then you get back up, you repent and ask God for forgiveness, and you move on,” he said. “I think that applies to homosexuals as well.”

Men who are attracted to other men can still be considered Christian if — and only if — they constantly try to counteract the same-sex attraction, Broussard said. And if they “repent, and they ask for forgiveness, and they keep trying to serve God, and they fall time and time again consistently, I believe that person is a Christian.”

So, Broussard and those who agree with him would have us believe that Jason Collins and any other LGBT persons cannot, by virtue of their gayness (unless they denounce it, deny it and repent), be followers of Jesus. This is because they say these folks are in open rebellion against God. Really? They are? Are you sure?

Folks such as these (and many of my friends) say that the Bible is crystal clear on this topic. (I have written extensively on this topic and the so called “clear” verses. You can read those posts here.) That they just read what the words in their Bible say, that this is what the church has believed and taught for thousands of years and therefore they are right. Here is my question, What about slavery? Do you think the church was wrong about slavery for thousands of years? The Bible says MUCH more in support of slavery than it does in opposition to homosexuality. (Great article called Is Abolition Biblical? by RHE on this topic.) Now maybe you are one of those folks who thinks slavery is ok. (Yes, I am serious. These people exist. Scary, I know.  Look… Why Is a Famous Evangelical Defending Slavery?) In which case I am not even sure what to do with you.

For my money these are people who have forgotten the verses that say,

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”
–Matthew 23:13

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
–1Peter 3:18

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
–John 3:17

“Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, “Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
–Matt 7:1-5

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
–John 16:8-11

No matter what you believe about homosexuality and whether or not it is a sin, what is clear is that God tells us it is not our job to convict or to judge but it is our job to LOVE. In fact, Jesus says that is our only job. And it NEVER says love includes excluding people from worshiping God.

side note: Some “Christians” have even extended their rejection this week to people who simply tweeted their support of Mr. Collins. Just yesterday, Former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler was disinvited from speaking at a church in Wisconsin because he had tweeted this, “Congrats to Jason Collins.” Apparently that is all it takes to piss God off in their minds. Butler was disinvited and told that if he removed the tweet, apologized and asked God for forgiveness, he could still come and speak. He refused. Butler, being a class act, refused to reveal the name of the offending church and was issued an apology which blamed some parents in the congregation for complaining about the tweet and thanked him for not revealing their name in the media. He was not however, reinvented to  speak. *SIGH*

For me, I will stick with Billy Graham on this one. “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”  I personally don’t believe same sex attraction is a sin. I don’t believe homosexual relations are a sin. I do believe sex outside of marriage is a sin. That is why I support marriage equality. I think it is good for the individual, good for the family, good for the church and good for society as a whole. Marriage stabilizes families, it encourages commitment, it celebrates sacrificing for each other, giving to each other, loving each other. That is a beautiful thing.

Here is a small list of some prominent gay Christians who you should get to know:

Justin Lee –  the founder of the Gay Christian Network (GCN), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides resources and support to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians.

Mel White – an American clergyman and author. White was a behind-the-scenes member of the Evangelical Protestant movement through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, writing film and television specials and ghostwriting auto-biographies for televangelists such as Jerry FalwellPat Robertson, and Billy Graham. After years of writing for the Christian right, he came out as gay in 1994.

Micah’s Rule – a vocal trio originating from Wilmington, NC. Made up of Alto: Mary Anne Hewett, Baritone: Greg McCaw, and Contralto: Chasity Scott, and singing the very best in inspirational, gospel, southern gospel, black gospel, country, and rock stylings with powerful voices and intricate harmonies. Great article on them here.

Jennifer Knapp – an American-Australian, folk rock, and formerly contemporary Christian musician. She is best known for her first single “Undo Me” from her debut album Kansas (1998), and the song “A Little More” from her Grammy Award-nominated album Lay It Down (2000). The Way I Am (2001), was also nominated for a Grammy.

Ray Boltz – a singer-songwriter who first came to wide notice in contemporary Christian music. Many of his songs tell stories of faith and inspiration. Boltz was raised by his parents William and Ruth Boltz, and was married to his wife Carol Boltz for over 30 years. They have four children. He came out in 2008.

Gene Robinson – an American retired bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Robinson was elected bishop coadjutor in 2003 and succeeded as diocesan bishop in March 2004. Before becoming bishop, he served as Canon to the Ordinary to the VIII Bishop of New Hampshire. Robinson is widely known for being the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated a bishop in a major Christian denomination believing in the historic episcopate.

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Response

Image
Have you seen this meme? It has just hit facebook and is all up in my feed. Here is my response…

Yes, I am a follower of Jesus.
I believe the truth contained in the Bible and in THE TRUTH who is Jesus Christ.
I support my homosexual friends and their right to marry the person they love.
Yes, I love all people.
Yes, I am still friends with people who disagree with me.
No, I am not judging you.
Yes, I am trying to persuade you to love like Jesus.
Yes, I will stand up for your right to free exercise of your beliefs as long as they don’t infringe on someone else’s right to practice theirs.

I will never call you a name but I will point out where your practice lacks grace, mercy and compassion. I will not remain silent as you say that I do not respect the scriptures or that I do not believe “the truth”. I will not remain silent when people God loves are being told they are not welcome in his family. I fully support your right to speak what you believe, and I will continue to speak what I believe.

* Due to demand I turned this into a meme of my own which you will find below. Please feel free to share it.

mymeme

 

The Bible trumps the law of the United States?

HI heard a conservative radio personality say this yesterday when I turned the dial to am to hear the traffic report. Wait? Whaaaaat???

Now if you are a Christian and I know many of you are, this may sound like a no brainer to you. “Of course the Bible supersedes the law of the United States! Or any country. And it should!”, you say. Well, I respectfully say, it absolutely should not. Before you go spray painting a big ol’ H for heretic on my chest, hear me out…

I do not worship the Bible. I worship the living God. The Bible is here to make known Jesus, and Jesus makes known the Father. The Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin and righteousness and teaches me (among many other things). When you tell me that the Bible supersedes the law of the United States, and that we should strive and work to make “what the Bible says” law. I start breaking out in hives. I mean, as my husband so eloquently asked this morning, “My question to you is, whose interpretation of “the bible and the Word of God” should “trump the laws of this country”? David Koresh’s? Pat Robertson’s? Mine? Yours? And how would this actually work? Congress passes a law, and then we appeal to the Supreme Court because we feel it conflicts with the “bible and the Word of God”? Please explain how you feel this is workable.” Or maybe would we need to set up some sort of Christian Sanhedrin or Sharia Court to hear such matters?

Are your sirens going off yet?

Believe me this isn’t just about gay marriage. It is about some citizens wanting other citizens to be forced to comply to something they feel is “biblical”. I have several problems with this.

  1. Since when do even all Christians agree on what is and is not “biblical” (see Rachel Held Evans take here: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/17/my-take-the-danger-of-calling-behavior-biblical/ )
  2. When did Jesus ever say, “Hey guys, let’s force the Romans to do this stuff too! Let’s overthrow this government and put my face on the money!!” ???? Oh wait, he didn’t.
  3. When did Jesus ever force anyone to do his will? or even obey his commandments?
  4. In fact weren’t his harshest words reserved for religious leaders who shut the door in other people’s faces, practiced institutionalized hypocrisy and forced people to carry burdens they would never lift themselves?
  5. Wasn’t our country founded by people who didn’t want to be told what they had to believe or to be forced to worship in a certain way? Weren’t they fleeing places with nationalized religions?
  6. Theocracies are dangerous. My belief is that there will only be one perfect theocracy and Jesus will sit on that throne. No human is fit to rule in his place.
  7. In America we embrace the principles of liberty and justice FOR ALL regardless of religion or race or gender. I am fond of saying it is either liberty and justice for all or it is liberty and justice for none.
  8. There is no unless in the above statements, it doesn’t say…God loves you unless you are not a Christian or God loves you, unless you are gay. Additionally, our pledge of allegiance does not say liberty and justice for all (except gays or except blacks or accept women). It says, with liberty and justice FOR ALL.

After all my lovelies, people have used the Bible to justify all kinds of things I (and I am guessing most of you) find unacceptable today (Slavery, women as property and all manner of other abuses come to mind). The cause du jour for our time happens to be marriage equality. People are fond of saying, “I just believe what the Bible says. It is crystal clear” or they use phrases like “traditional marriage” . Let’s explore those statements through the following graphics:

tumblr_m80awqPk0Y1qkdvl3o1_1280

traditional-marriage

Many of my Christian friends think that “redefining marriage” will somehow tarnish marriage and make God angry. Listen, my marriage is holy because Kent and I choose to have God in the center of it. It is not made unholy by some other heterosexual couple being married who do not choose to have God at the center of theirs nor by any homosexual couple who do not. (or by others divorce or  infidelity or abuse etc. etc.) Incidentally, I neglected to mention a second ago, the Christian LGBT couples who choose to have God at the center of their relationships. A dizzying prospect? Here, sit down my lovelies, I will get you a cold glass of water.

A homosexual couple (or other “sinful” couple) marrying only affects one marriage, their own. This is the United States. We allow all types of people to get married for all types of reasons who commit all types of sins (I do not believe homosexuality is a sin incidentally), we recognize the marriages of all faith traditions, including non-christians! Gasp!! I just don’t see how or why free people do not understand this concept.

In Galations 5 it says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Why, in God’s name, do people want to keep themselves or others under or put themselves or others back under a yoke of slavery when they have been set free? In the U.S we embrace the idea that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness“. Neither God (he gives us all free will) nor the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to deny these pursuits to your neighbor. You don’t have to agree with someone in the United States to afford them equal rights. Heck our country was built on that premise and that is why eventually this will prevail IMHO. As my Friend Matthew Paul Turner’s Facebook status read yesterday (and I like to think he is right), “Marriage equality will happen. It’s only a matter of time. This country has proven over and over again that it is indeed capable of changing courses, righting wrongs, reversing bad decisions, and siding with freedom, equality and democracy. We’re sometimes slow to get started. We’re sometimes blinded by our ignorance and fear. But we always eventually see the light. And once that light starts to crack through, you can’t keep it from shining. You can try. But you won’t prevail. Because in America, freedom always wins out in the end. It might take us a little longer to get to the finish line. But we will get there. And we will get there together.”

As far as “making God angry” I don’t believe that anymore but you can read all about that in my earlier post Why was God mad in 1927 or Was Jesus enough?

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

Mad Men (and Women) of Christianity


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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.

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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.