Coming Out As An NALT Christian

nalt-logo-mediumSo there is this new thing called the NALT Christians Project. According to their web site, the purpose of The NALT Christians Project is,  “To give any and all LGBT-affirming Christians a means of sharing their belief that there is nothing anti-biblical or sinful about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The project is a joint venture of Truth Wins Out Two and John Shore. It is inspired by Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.

So far there only have been 105 videos uploaded. I felt like it was important to add my voice to theirs.

I did this for many reasons. Here are a few:

  • I care deeply about this issue because I care deeply about humans.
  • I believe Jesus meant it when he said to love my neighbor as myself, therefore when I see people being mistreated, hated, bullied and denied equal rights I must do something.
  • Publicly stating my beliefs on this issue both here, in my video and anywhere else I have influence may by some chance influence another to be more loving and accepting. Without others who have gone before me making such public declarations and being willing to have open respectful conversations I may never have come to this place in my personal evolution.
  • Someone from the LGBT community may see it and feel more loved, less alone and like God loves them.
  • By creating a welcoming and affirming atmosphere in the church, LGBT persons may feel more comfortable sharing their stories
  • The good news is for everyone. Jesus is for everyone. Love is for everyone. No if, no until and no unless.

Some people believe that making a video like this is taking “the easy way out” in terms of being an LGBT ally. They worry that some will simply make a video and think that is enough. I agree with them on this point, making a video alone is not enough. We must also show our love and support to our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community with our actions. We must (among many other things):

  • Speak up when we hear others being bullied
  • Speak up when people make insensitive or bigoted comments or jokes
  • Use our votes and our voices to advocate for equality
  • Listen to the stories of the LGBT people in your life. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself how you can love them like you would like to be loved.

Other folks believe that we don’t need to make videos to show people that we are “Not All Like That”. They believe we just need to live out what we believe with the people in our lives. I disagree. As I said above, I need to do both. I need to use whatever voice I can be it online or face to face. Others still believe that the LGBT community doesn’t need to hear this message, that it implies they somehow need validation from CIS Christians. I couldn’t disagree more. This project isn’t about giving LGBT folks our blessing or validation as if they needed our stamp of approval. It is about counterbalancing the voices in Christianity that proclaim hate and inequity as God’s own truth. When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a mind-blowing 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. This statistic, along with the rhetoric from people like Pat Robertson and organizations like the American Family Association, make the choice for me to participate in this project a no brainer. I hope you will consider joining me…and Jesus in becoming NALT Christians.

* Wait…WHAT? Did I just say Jesus was a NALT Christian? (More like and NALT Christ if we are getting nitpicky) Consider if you will something I say in my video for the project (which you can see here: NALT Christians Project: Michelle from Texas)…

When Jesus told the accusers to cast the first stone; when he allowed the woman to wash his feet with her tears, when he forgave even those who were killing him, what he was really saying was, hey I’m not like that. And when he taught Peter not to call people he loved unclean…What he was really saying was that we are not to be like that either. I think the way the church has deemed some people unworthy of his love is anti-christ. I think the lines have been redrawn around Jesus and fortified with walls and barbed wire and moats and I think Jesus wants us to tear them down.

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Well cut my hair and call me apostate! *to be said in your best Texas accent*

apostate

This week Attorney Matt Barber, president of Liberty Counsel Action, had anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera as his guest on his “Faith and Freedom” webcast. Their topic? John Shore & Dan Savage’s NALT Christians Project. The gist of their hate fueled ramblings is this:

“To have vile, anti-Christian bigots, who are pushing a radical, dangerous sexual anarchist agenda, presuming to lecture Christians, and have people — self-identified Christians, liberal so-called Christians — upload videos about how they support something that God calls an abomination — there’s no other word for it — it’s apostasy when you have self-described Christians do it.”

This week I was also a guest on a web interview blog…Outlaw Theology with The Whiskey Preacher on Patheos.com (I will be posting links as soon as they are up!!). Full disclosure: you will not be seeing either Peter LaBarbera or Matt Barber interviewed there anytime soon. Although, I am sure Phil (aka The Whiskey Preacher) would have lots of great questions for them. 🙂 Funny thing is, my interview was actually about my personal evolution in becoming a welcoming and affirming christian/pastor/blogger. When we were done, Phil was also kind enough to help me make my very own NALT video (Which will also be up soon!!!!). I am sure Mr. Barber and Mr. LaBarbera will be very disappointed with what I had to say.  But that’s okay because I am very disappointed with what they had to say. They are upset that we NALT (not all like that) christians are making videos supporting something the Scriptures call an abomination.  Well, I have news for them, I support several things the Bible calls an abomination and some it just says are wrong. GASP! Say it isn’t so!!! (I bet my friends from the beginning of the article probably also support some of these given I have seen their sideburns). That’s right lovelies, along with fully supporting my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, I also support:

  • Eating shellfish
  • Having sex with a woman (you are married to) who is on her period (if she is consenting, OBVIOUSLY)
  • The menswear look for ladies (hello, Diane Keaton)
  • Kilts for the dudes
  • Cutting your sideburns
  • Re-marrying someone you divorced (I have known several couples who have done this)
  • Marrying someone new after you get divorced
  • I am decidedly pro bacon, pepperoni, honeybaked ham, carnitas and pork chops.
  • Wearing clothing with more than one type of fiber
  • I am down with crop rotation (I come from several generations of farmers)
  • There is a bunch of stuff the Bible says you can’t touch, some are kind of gross but I am cool with you touching them (for instance I am for you touching a dead pig for the purposes of playing football)
  • Tattoos, even though I don’t have any
  • Long hair for men and short hair for women
  • Women praying with their heads uncovered
  • Women teaching men and/or boys and/or other women/girls (yes, even in church)
  • Women NOT being property of either father or husband or brother or dead husband’s brother
  • I am cool with it if you don’t want to marry your rapist
  • If your husband is getting mugged and you think you can stop things by grabbing the guys junk really hard…I promise I won’t cut off your hand
  • I won’t be mad if you don’t stone your kid for dishonoring you
  • I am even good with you working on Saturday or Sunday or even paying someone else to work by serving you lunch after church (I know I do)

Here is the thing, these two guys do not follow every instruction given in the Bible. They. Just. Don’t. They interpret. They pick and they choose. And I am sure they use all sorts of things to support their beliefs. So do I. So do I. I don’t know about you but when I read scripture, some things are crystal clear, some are blurry and some are downright opaque. The clearest thing I can find is that I am supposed to love God and love people, ALL PEOPLE. No if. No until. No unless. I just don’t think Jesus gives me another option.

BONUS: DID YOU NOTICE APOSTATE LITERALLY MEANS “RUNAWAY SLAVE” IN THE GREEK. I KIND OF LIKE THAT.

If you would like to know what I do with any of the “clobber passages” you can check out the series I did awhile back. I addressed them all. or If you would rather watch a video check out Matthew Vines. He rocks.
You can also see the response of the creators of the NALT Christians Projects here.

It Does, It Must and It Will Get Better.

Last week Dan Savage the founder of the It Get’s Better Campaign lashed out at the Bible and some of the students during an anti-bullying conference at a high school in Seattle. In his statements he clearly went over the line and became that which he most despises: A bully. In his statements Mr. Savage attacked the Bible, belittled the beliefs of others and used a slur to attack the students who disagreed with his statements by simply walking out. This is a transcript of the portion of the speech in question:

“We can learn to ignore the bullshit about gay people in the Bible the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waived Bibles over their heads during the civil war and justified it.”

“If the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, slavery, what are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100 percent.”

Afterward, Savage remarked: “You can tell the Bible guys in the hall they can come back now because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny as someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-ass some people react when you push back.”

While I vehemently disagree with Mr. Savage’s attack on the students because of their protest, I do believe that he can be forgiven. He has issued an apology for the “pansy-assed” comment saying it was “insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong. And I apologize for saying it.” Therefore, he gets a second chance. I have certainly spoken in the heat of a moment words I wished I could retract as soon as they left my mouth. I am sure you have too.

I also disagree strongly with Mr. Savage’s view of the Bible as I read it. I do however think that some things people have used the Bible to say and do are BS. And honestly when I think of the way the church has used and in some cases still uses the Bible as an excuse or even an encouragement to bully, hate and abuse the GLBT community as a whole and individual GLBT people I can easily figure out how  Mr. Savage ended up on a stage calling bulls%#t on the whole thing. Sometimes I actually want to stand up and join Dan Savage in calling BS for the way people use the Bible for purposes which I believe were never intended. After all, this is the same Bible that says that Jesus came not into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. This is the Bible that says  people will know we are Christians by our love. Today is a day I am going to call BS. Today I call BS on Pastor Sean Harris of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Currently the state of North Carolina is in a battle over Amendment 1 to their state constitution which states in part:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

This past Sunday was declared “Marriage Sunday” by Vote for Marriage NC, a political action committee. Their purpose for organizing the day was:

Marriage Sunday is an early voting awareness campaign focused on equipping churches and citizens to vote FOR the Marriage Protection Amendment during the 4/19-5/5 early voting window. Churches participating in Marriage Sunday are encouraged to preach a marriage themed sermon on April 29th, and encourage congregants to vote early on Monday April 30th.

This is the United States of America and this is the way we decide things here. We vote. I am for voting. The good people of North Carolina get to go to the polls and decide how they will define marriage in their state. What I am not for, what is complete BS, is the hatred and abuse that was spewed out in the name of my Lord Jesus and my God. I will not be silent. I teach my children to stand up and speak out in defense of the weak and the oppressed and today I will do the same thing.
http://www.goodasyou.org/player.swf

If you are unable to listen to the audio, here is a transcript (emphasis added):

So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, “Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,” you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.
Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting to Butch you reign her in. And you say, “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.
You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?”
Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.

Well, you are going to need more than a special dispensation because Jesus authorizes you to do no such thing.

In fact, I would assert that parents treating their children in this way does not prevent one person who would have grown up to be gay to suddenly become heterosexual. Just ask any number of people in the GLBT community. I bet you can find many who were treated in exactly this fashion by their parents. My guess is that not only did it not stop them from becoming gay it also made them think that God didn’t love them, didn’t come to be near them, and doesn’t offer them salvation. All I know to say is, God forgive them for they know not what they do. Forgive me for the times I know not what I do. This has nothing to do with whether or not people have the right to believe whatever they want about homosexuality. It has to do with the fact that Jesus does not give you the option to hate, bully or abuse your child or anyone else ever. You don’t have that right, Sean Harris doesn’t have that right and Dan Savage doesn’t have that right. So far Dan Savage has apologized for bullying the kids, I wonder if we will ever hear an apology from Sean Harris? I hope so. I pray that the radical love of the Jesus who died for us all grips the hearts of Harris and Savage. Today I shout at the top of my lungs that it does and it will get better. Lord, let your Kingdom come.