controversial_kisses_trek

Why is This Kiss News?

controversial_kisses_trek

 

Oh wait, that’s not the picture everyone was talking about? Nope, it isn’t. But it might as well have been. More about that later… Yesterday, someone (or rather, many someones) asked the above question on the interwebz beneath a picture of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was selected by the Rams. “Why is this news?” The collective cry went up on social media. People called it all the usual descriptors “disgusting” and “abomination” being among the favorites. Some people lamented that “There are children watching.” Some wondered, “Why would ESPN would show such a thing?” And again many asked, “Why is this kiss news?”

 

jackie-robinson-e1399921380815Why is it news you ask? I’ll tell you why it’s news. First, it is news for the same reason Captain Kirk kissing Lieutenant Uhura was news; it makes people uncomfortable. It makes people uncomfortable now the same way it made people uncomfortable when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. People say the same things: it will ruin team chemistry; it will make the locker room awkward; it just isn’t natural. As far as the first two go, if you have played a sport or participated in gym class or belonged to a health club, you have already shared a locker room with LGBT people. Get over it. If you are worried about it, here is the link to a very handy article published by The Huffington Post a while back called, How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room. As for the last one, “it isn’t natural”, tell that to the 9 million people in the U.S. who identify as LGBT and the 1,500 species of animals that exhibit homosexual behaviors.

Second, it is news for the same reason as it is news when any other public figure (and sometimes regular folks) kisses…9 times out of 10 they are celebrating something. Think about it. People kiss when wars end. People kiss when their team wins. People kiss when they win anything: awards, games, elections, promotions…anything. People kiss when they have a baby and when they get married. People even kiss on the cheek to greet friends or when they are introduced at a party. People also kiss for weird reasons and make the news: when there are riots, when they start college or when they set world records. People kiss. It makes the news. It happens, literally literally (just for you Josh Mitchell) every day. Just most of the time people don’t notice because it doesn’t make them uncomfortable. I am hoping someday soon the picture of Michael Sam and his boyfriend kissing will seem as normal as these pictures of other athletes celebrating their victories…

 

kel brookSanyaRichardsRoss:aaron ross St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Pujols kisses his wife Deidre after the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers to win MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis Chris Bosch Short Track Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 3 kyle busch bubbawatson Elway

Or these politicians…

inaugral ball mitt romneyLauraPresKiss

Or these entertainers…

SJP and MB at Oscars Perry:brand grammys brad and angie SAG awards jayz-and-beyonce-pda-kiss-grammy-awards-2014-lead matthew mcconaughey best actor oscar

Or these everyday people…

Vancouver_riot_kissing_couple vj

Listen lovelies, people like kissing (we even like pictures of animals “kissing”). They like to kiss and be kissed. And yes, many even like to see other people kiss. I have a theory as to why. Kissing is an outward sign that love still exists. Kissing means there is still hope for humanity; there is still hope that we can love and be loved. It is a sign that there are still things worth celebrating. And in times of uncertainty and fear, kissing is a sign that love can still win. For me that is what the Michael Sam kiss and all these other kisses represent. And that my friends is why kissing and this specific kiss are news. Good news.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/05/10/michael_sam_kiss_the_st_louis_rams_pick_the_openly_gay_missouri_star_in.html

Advertisements

My Privilege

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 12.49.31 PM

You may have seen a Buzzfeed quiz going around lately titled “How Privileged Are You?” Well, I took it and above you can see my results.  ^^^

Funny thing about privilege, growing up I didn’t know I had it. Now, however, I understand that by virtue of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation and my family history, I have benefitted tremendously from the simple circumstances of my birth.

Don’t believe in privilege or simply don’t believe it has that much of an effect on life? I humbly submit that you may be more privileged than you think. That is the thing about privilege, it is a filter through which one sees every facet of life, and it is a filter that is inborn. It is only through education and relationships with others who do not experience the benefits our privileges provide that we are able to begin to see the need for change.

A quick note: I am by no means an expert in this area and it is really only in the last few years that I have begun to be educated on this topic, even having been raised by parents who taught me that men and women, rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, etc., were all equal in the eyes of God.

Another quick note: you can be privileged in one area and completely not privileged in another. I think of it kind of like a continuum. That is why I kind of appreciated the BuzzFeed quiz, as non-scientific as it is. Yes I am white but I am also female. Yes I have money now, but I didn’t always. Here’s the thing though, the statement above is pretty right on. I have had a few struggles in my life, but I have also had many, many advantages that had ZERO to do with me and everything to do with who, where, when, and to whom I was born.

I would now like to share with you an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua DuBois,

NOVEMBER 5 – KEEPING WATCH

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of the change in the air –however slight– lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.  –Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass, letter to the Young Lawyers Section of the Washington State Bar Association

Let’s keep watch. Let’s perceive the slow creep of oppression, wherever it might move. Let’s be aware of the darkness in our world–or even in our own soul–that seeks, like fungus to grow.

When we see it, or feel it, we pray that Christ would come into it and strike it out, making us new. We will not be victims. Nor will we be oppressors. No–today, we will keep watch.

Dear God, open my eyes not just to blessings but also to the potential of evil in the world. And when I perceive it, help me move against it. Amen.

We read this installment with our kids a few weeks ago and I was reminded of a Facebook post by my friend Markeetia McKinnis, which I shared with my children and husband on the spot at the breakfast table. As I read it aloud again, I couldn’t make it through without choking back tears. You see, this post helped me be more aware of my own inborn privilege and that of my children. Sharing it with them and with you is a small way in which I can strike out the slow creep of oppression:

As I wind down on this last day in Black History month, I reflect on how far the world has changed from when I was little black girl growing up in Mississippi to now a black mother of three residing in Texas. Some changes for the better….progress. Some changes for the worse. BUT, It is true, we are a different world. We have become a better people. We can now all drink from the same fountains. Attend the same schools. Aim for the same goals. Play the same sports….Through the worlds view, we are better. Even through this black mothers view, I feel on the majority of days, we are better. AND then there are those days when you’re driving with your husband and you’re stopped and the white officer calls him a boy in front of your kids. Or the day when the black President is re-elected and your kid comes home from school with tears in his eyes because he’s heard the N word for the first time. [her children attend school with my children at a private Christian school].Or the day you have date night with the hubby and you walk into Neiman’s and you’re followed around the store. OR the day when you’re out with your husband and people keep stopping you, because they think he’s a ball player. OR the day when you’re sitting during your kids American program feeling proud and then you realize that NOT ONE single black person was characterized during Black History Month. OR you realize that schools don’t even celebrate black history month anymore AND…..these are the days when you realize that despite how hard you’ve tried…this is your reality and you MUST educate your children…your black children. Because the reality is they are not only Americans….They are BLACK Americans. And unfortunately, they have a past that will follow them to heaven. So, you brace yourself for the why’s and the tears and the pain in their eyes….knowing that you can’t change their past. It is very much who they are. And unless we do them an injustice, we as their parents have to educate them on a world we as black people did not choose, but found ourselves being thrust in. A world that says it sees no color, but for the Black American that is so NOT our reality. I have had many tasks thrust upon me, but being a black mom is by far the most challenging. How much do you share? What EXACTLY do you say? I still have not quite figured that one out yet, SO I take it day by day and lesson by lesson. Allowing God to guide my heart and speech….Lately, I have taught them that they are who God says they are, not man. They are more than a color. That’s offensive, not cute. They are not brown, they are black. There history is more than just Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. They are walking on the backs of some of the greatest inventors and scientists in the world. They are more than just basketball players and runners, they are leaders and world changers. They are not projects, they are humans with hearts and desires. In the same breathe….as age appropriate as possible, I have taught them that they are the kid in the store with the hoodie on. They can’t do what everyone else does and get away with it. They cannot go everywhere, with everyone…even if all of there friends go. The same rules just don’t always apply. They are not rap music and slang talk -don’t allow people to disrespect you by assuming as much. They are not a statistic or JUST an athlete. They are the HEAD and not the TAIL. They are kings and queens. They are worthy….. I am slowly teaching them to “respect the struggle”….day by day…. #momminute #blackhistory #raisingblackkids#myworld

So, here is the thing, if you are a man you are privileged in some ways that women are not, no matter what race you are. If you are white you are privileged in some ways that minorities are not, even if you grew up poor. If you were born in the United States you are privileged in ways most of the world is not, no matter what other disadvantages you have had. There are so many more ways in which to be born privileged. I have been trying lately to examine my own filters. I think the quiz above can help you get started. Another thing you can try is if you are a man, ask some of the women in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a woman. If you are white, ask some of your friends who are not white to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a person of color. If you are straight, ask some of the LGBT people in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being LGBT. Then listen, and believe what they tell you. You might be surprised at what they have to say. It isn’t a lot, but it is a start.

For some other good educational reading on this topic…

World Vision vs Hobby Lobby

world-vision

 

Today in court Hobby Lobby is asserting that because certain owners of the company are Christians,  the for profit business is also “Christian” and should be allowed to forego supplying coverage that goes against their conscience, i.e. birth control. They feel this way because they believe some types of birth control can be abortifacient. Rather than allowing women and their doctors to discuss all the options available and decide on the best course of action, Hobby Lobby would also like to make sure the insurance they provide does not even cover such discussions if they involve the types of birth control they disapprove of. Nevermind the fact that they sell thousands of products made in China, a country which encourages (and sometimes mandates) abortion if it is necessary to maintain the one child policy. Forget about the fact that employees can use the money they are paid (by Hobby Lobby) to engage in other activities (sins) the owners may feel offend their conscience when they are off the clock (or shall we also allow them to decide how their employees spend that money as well, perhaps the employees should have to provide expense receipts to justify their choices so that Hobby Lobby can avoid inadvertently financing what they consider sinful activities). Perhaps they should just set up an old school company store and employees could live in a company town where only Hobby Lobby approved, sin free products and activities are condoned. Sorry for the snark, but honestly, it is just nuts.

Do they not understand that contributing to the cost of an employee’s government mandated health care plan which may or may not mean they choose a birth control method they disapprove of is NO DIFFERENT than giving them a paycheck that the employee then uses to buy the EXACT SAME type of birth control? It is the same money! It came from the same place! You bear the exact same responsibility for the employee’s choice of birth control and you should have the exact same amount of say in that choice…NONE!

Hobby Lobby’s supporters also say, as do all the defenders of the various “turn away the gay” laws, that they are merely fighting for their constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  In the decision written by Chief Justice Waite, however, the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. United States ruled that “Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order,” and that allowing people (and in this case Hobby Lobby) to do so “would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government would exist only in name under such circumstances.” Personally, this is why I am confident (and will be extremely disappointed if the Court comes back with any other decision) that the Supreme Court will rule for the government in this case.

In other news, yesterday World Vision, a Christian non-profit agency whose mission is providing “emergency assistance to children and families affected by natural disasters and civil conflict, work[ing] with communities to develop long-term solutions to alleviate poverty, and advocat[ing] for justice on behalf of the poor, set the evangelical world on fire by stating that:

…since World Vision is a multi-denominational organization that welcomes employees from more than 50 denominations, and since a number of these denominations in recent years have sanctioned same-sex marriage for Christians, the board—in keeping with our practice of deferring to church authority in the lives of our staff, and desiring to treat all of our employees equally—chose to adjust our policy. Thus, the board has modified our Employee Standards of Conduct to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.

Since World Vision’s announcement, the evangelical world has their knickers in a twist.  Benjamin L. Corey sarcastically translated the collective twitter rants on Formerly Fundie:

“I have sponsored this child for many years now and built a relationship with them. Yes, I know that this is a specific child with a real name and real story who will miss my letters. I know that this child may end up dying from lack of access to clean water or medicine without my help. I understand that without the education my donation provides, this child is at high risk of a life of trafficking and exploitation. Yes, I know that my donation makes sure they get three square meals a day and that without it, they’re going to be hungry. But, I simply must abandon this child now that I realize Janice from accounting has a wife.”

The best (and by best I mean worst) part of the comments for me are the folks who say it is World Vision’s fault that these kids are going to go without now. They have no choice but to pull their support. WOW. Really? You really only give money to people who agree with you 100% on what is sin and what isn’t or do you only give money to the people who sin like you do? I mean come on, isn’t that what it comes down to? Many of us would prefer that people only committed the “sins” we are comfortable with. But wait, we are talking unrepentant sin here. Really? How about we stop contributing money to organizations who hire people who are gluttons? Maybe we should stop giving money to organizations that hire people who are divorced and remarried? Or having sex before marriage (none of us have done that, right? Oh snap, some of us have.)  So here we sit, World Vision tries to be inclusive of all of the beliefs of the 50 denominations of people they employ and THEY are cutting off the kids? If only Jesus had given us some clear direction in all of this, then we might know what to do. Oh wait, he did.

These arguments would be simpler if only Jesus had said something like “Whatever you did for the least of these you did for me” #WorldVision

— Micah J. Murray (@micahjmurray) March 25, 2014

As Kristen Howerton said on her post on Rage Against the Minivan,

Is access to food, water, and education trumped by keeping gay people out of a job at a nonprofit? If we want to serve people, we should not make distinctions about who we serve, and we should not deny those we serve out of disunity or division. It’s astounding to me that Christians would take food from starving children because a gay person might have helped in getting it there…I’m also just so, so dismayed that this is yet another instance in which Christians are telling the world that their feelings about gay people are stronger than their compassion. That their anger over gay employees is greater than their anger over starving children.

I cannot for the life of me understand people who would rather see all Hobby Lobby employees lose their jobs (the owners have threatened to close their stores if they lose) to protect the religious sensibilities of the owners (who coincidentally also sin) than see some of their employees be allowed their choice of birth control (some of which Hobby Lobby deem sinful). These are the same people who would rather have the child they sponsor be left wondering why they were dropped than continue allowing World Vision to use their funds to be the hands and feet of Jesus because the dude who is in charge of bringing clean water to villages in developing countries is married to a man named Jim instead of a woman named Jane.  Jesus wept.

—————————————————–

There are tons of ways to help World Vision. You can fund a microloan, sponsor a child, provide disaster relief, buy handmade gifts for friends, or choose any one of several items to give from their catalog including water wells, anti-trafficking aid, farm animals, schooling and many many more. Please go visit WorldVision.org and lend your support today.

Fear and Loathing in Arizona

signs

As we speak, the whole nation (and even the world) waits for Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision. And we are all wondering, “What is taking her so long?” One side is wondering why it is taking so long for her to sign a piece of legislation that both houses of her state’s legislature have passed insuring that the “rights” of business owners  to discriminate by refusing service based on their “deeply held religious beliefs” are not infringed upon. The rest of us are wondering why it is taking her so long to veto legislation that so blatantly violates the constitution and is so obviously discriminatory. Currently, the word on the street is that she is leaning toward a veto. It is my belief that if she does veto the measure it will be based purely on economics. First, “gay people have money and they buy stuff“. Second? The Super Bowl. So far the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL and the Super Bowl Committee have all come out with statements urging the governor to veto the legislation. Here are their respective statements:

“Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard…We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time.”
— NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello

“We share the NFL’s core values, which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination.”
–Super Bowl Host Committee

“What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home.”
–Arizona Cardinals

As Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a changin'”and thank God they are. Sadly, it seems, not fast enough, with laws such as this one cropping up all over the country, Uganda’s new law making being gay a crime punishable by life in prison, the lobbyist who is drafting legislation to make it illegal for gay men to play in the NFL, a thing I learned about today called “gay denialism“, and this article about Vladimir Putin which praises him as a “man of Christian faith and values” because of his stance on homosexuality. Yikes!

If you have been on my blog for long you know that I am an ally. I have written extensively  in support of full equality of LGBT persons both in the church, politics and society at large (you can use the search box on the right to see some of my previous posts, try searching homosexuality or LGBT). It is my prayer that the time is coming when legislation like this is looked back upon with embarrassment and contrition. For those of you still holding on to the notion that your rights as a Christian are being violated by being asked not to discriminate against LGBT persons, I came across a handy quiz you can take to see if that is indeed the case. Here are the questions from Rev. Emily C. Heath:

1. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

2. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

3. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

4. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.

5. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.

6. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access books, movies and websites that I do not like.

7. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.

8. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.

9. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.

10. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.

Scoring key:

If you answered “A” to any question, then perhaps your religious liberty is indeed at stake. You and your faith group have every right to now advocate for equal protection under the law. But just remember this one little, constitutional, concept: this means you can fight for your equality — not your superiority.

If you answered “B” to any question, then not only is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.

If you are a Christian and you are for this law, I have only one question: What do you think Jesus’ answer would be today if we asked him the same question the young lawyer asked him in Matthew, “Who is my neighbor?”  Knowing Jesus’ penchant for parables, it is a safe bet he would tell us a story…

“A gay couple was going down from Phoenix to Tucson to pick up a wedding cake he had ordered. The Christian owner, upon seeing that he was gay, invoked his right not to make the cake because of his deeply held religious beliefs. Now by chance a pastor was in the same bakery and heard the whole thing but rather than get involved he sat quietly eating his danish. So likewise the Governor, when faced with the opportunity to veto the measure before her, stalled. But a baker who worked in the next town, who happened to be an illegal alien, heard about the couple and had compassion on them. He not only offered to bake the cake for their wedding, he also set about helping them find a caterer and a venue. He even helped out with the flowers and bought the couple a wedding gift. Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the men getting married?” And we would say (I hope), “The one who baked the cake.” And Jesus would say to us, “You go, and do likewise.”

Jesus left us with only one law with two parts, love God with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself. That is the essence (or spirit) of Christ. This law (and laws like it) are the essence (or spirit) of antichrist. Is that a strong statement? You bet. But in 1 John 4:20-21 it says, “If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also.” When we truly love others we will afford them the same rights we claim for ourselves.  Until then, we are self-deceived and we are loving neither God nor our LGBT neighbors.

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.

A Little Late to the Party

Somehow I only became aware today that June is Gay Pride month.
So, WOW. I am a little late to the Gay Pride party.

It is interesting but at this time last year gay folks in the military were still under the umbrella of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” and I would have told you that I wasn’t sure where I stood on the issue of gay marriage. Oh what a difference a year makes. In the past year I have read and studied and prayed and refined and defined my beliefs about homosexuality and God and written about them in detail here. I have come out of the church closet (so to speak) as an affirming straight ally and supporter of same sex marriage. And then today, I read an amazing article from the Associated Press on plans for the military to honor gay troops and their service to our country for the first time in their history, much like they honor other service members during Black history month or Women’s history month.

In many ways my journey has paralleled what I read in the article. (quotes taken from, Pentagon the Mark Gay Pride Month)

  • The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy forced over 13,500 service members out of the military.
    • The way I used to view gay people has forced thousands out of traditional churches.
  • A Pentagon spokesman was quoted in the article as saying, “Now that we’ve repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ he [Leon Panetta] feels it’s important to find a way this month to recognize the service and professionalism of gay and lesbiantroops”.
    • Now that I have researched and prayed and changed my position, I feel it is important to find a way this month to recognize the ways in which gay and lesbian people contribute to society and the church.
  • “Although some feared repeal of the ban on serving openly would cause problems in the ranks, officials and gay advocacy groups say no big issues have materialized”
    • Although many of my friends feared the support and inclusion of gays and lesbians serving openly in our church would cause problems, no big issues have materialized.
  • “I don’t think it’s just moving along smoothly, I think it’s accelerating faster than we even thought the military would as far as progress goes,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, a finance officer and co-director of OutServe.

    • I don’t think it’s just moving along smoothly, I think it is accelerating faster as my gay and lesbian friends are welcomed to worship and serve with us and as my straight friends are realizing that we have more in common than they thought.
  • He said acceptance has been broad among straight service members and has put a spotlight on unequal treatment that gays continue to receive in some areas. “We are seeing such tremendous progress in how much the military is accepting us, but not only that – in how much the rank and file is now understanding the inequality that’s existing right now,” he said.
    • Acceptance has been broad on the blog and has put a spotlight on unequal treatment that homosexuals continue to receive in many areas. I am seeing tremendous progress in how many of my friends are becoming more accepting, but not only that – in how much they are now understanding the inequity that exists.

So, even though I am a little late to the party I am really happy with where I am.  Recently I have had friends come out to me who remain closeted to their church and their family but who love Christ and seek to serve him because they knew that with me they would be encouraged in their future marriage and walk with Jesus. I have other friends who say that through this blog they have learned to look at the way they have treated gay people and to become more loving in their speech and actions.  Sadly I also have friends who have severed ties over this issue, who say “stay away from her she is a dangerous woman”. They say it is because I am accepting of my gay friends who come to my church. They say it is because I support them in their marriages. They say it is because I publicly speak out in support of marriage equality. All I have to say is this, I am proud to be known by my love for ALL people.

I may be late to this party, but I am here, my glitter is on and I’m ready to dance.

A Change of Focus

That moment when someone says something to you that changes your focus. Ever have one of those?

I bet you have. I know I have.

Recently I have had a couple conversations that have shifted my focus on the way I am going to be handling the crazy ass, hateful, ridiculous things being said by people who think they are serving Jesus by cheering for kids who are taught to parrot hateful songs, or calling for the extermination or legal prosecution of our homosexual brothers and sisters. Rather than focusing on these negative and hateful messages that do not bring life or hope, from here on I am choosing to focus on the people who are living in the light and bringing a message of hope and love to the world.This does not mean that I will stop standing up for people and standing up against injustice. On the contrary, I intend to fight it with the only weapons that work.

My focus was becoming increasingly negative and I was allowing the hate they have been spewing to become my focus which only brings hopelessness.  I had become increasingly frustrated, especially since the passage of Prop 1 in North Carolina, because these things are going on in churches. In a recent poll 91% of people 16-29 choose “anti-gay” to describe Christians. Heck, even 80% of church going people in that age group described the church as “anti-gay”.  I am hurt and distressed that people are taught that God can’t possibly love gay people. For crying out loud people even if you believe it is a sin, Jesus died for sinful people and the cheering for such a horrible song this week made me want to do something. Say something. Maybe because I didn’t know better when I was young and listening to people like like the leader of my former community saying homosexuals should be lined up and shot and producing songs like Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Homos”.

Well, this is where hope breaks in. While I do think it is important that people realize just how pervasive this kind of thinking is and while I do feel that people need to be informed, I also think that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr . had the right idea. Whenever he spoke about injustice he always cast it in the light of the truth. That side loses. Love wins. Dr. King called us to be our best selves, he called us to overcome, he called us to love. He set a vision for the dreamers. He invited us to hope that things could change; that God’s will could truly be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Romans 12:14-21 it says,
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Not that this is easy. It isn’t. Individually we must love, even when someone is hateful towards us. This week on Primetime: What Would You Do? the scenario was that a young white woman was introducing her black boyfriend to her dad for the first time. He was not happy, to say the least, about their interracial relationship. There was an elderly woman who (after the young couple left) expressed support for the father and her extreme distaste for interracial relationships. At the end of the segment after it had all been revealed for the social experiment it was, this beautiful young black man hugged that ignorant old woman and do you know what he said when asked why? He said I have been taught all my life that people like her exist, I wanted her to know what kind of person I am.
Dr. King said,
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
That is my plan. Let us drive out the darkness with the light. Let us drive out the hate with love. Let us overcome evil with good. Starting today, whenever I am feeling hopeless about the state of this or like the darkness might be winning. Instead of focusing on that I am going to feature a person or organization who are bringing light, hope and love. I am going to start today with Minnesota Pastor Oliver White.  According to the Independent, Southeastern Minnesota‘s daily newspaper, Pastor White is

A black leader at the helm of a predominantly black church, White — who marched for racial equality during the Civil Rights era — faced pushback from his own community after he stood up for gay rights in 2005.

During a national synod of the United Church of Christ in Atlanta, he joined a majority of delegates from across the country in voting to adopt a resolution supporting gay marriage.

He returned to his congregation the following Sunday and explained his decision. Almost immediately he saw church membership plummet. Within weeks he lost two-thirds of his followers, and now a Sunday sermon draws at most about 20 people.

He now stands to lose his church for good as their balloon payment of 200k came due yesterday. Even though Pastor White, 69, stands to lose everything he stated in a recent interview,

“If we are not successful, I am not going to feel that we are defeated,” White said. “I’ve often said if one person has been turned around, if their thinking has been turned around, and they are no longer homophobic, and they can reach out and love their brothers and their sisters as they love themselves, unconditionally, without labeling them in any way, then losing the church will not be in vain.”

Here’s to you Pastor White. You are my hero of the day and the champion of those who Christ loves. Your reward sir is in heaven.

Grace Community United Church of Christ
You can email your word of encouragement here: mystory42@hotmail.com