Aside

No Longer Praying Out The Gay

love wins

 

 

Please go check out my interview with Phil Shepherd aka The Whiskey Preacher on Patheos.com:
No Longer Praying Out The Gay
Phil and I recently sat down and did interviews with each other in his home studio. Besides being a blogger, Phil and his wife Stephanie are co-pastors at The Eucatastrophe, an emergentish, missional faith community in Fort Worth, Texas.

If you missed it, you can catch my interview with Phil about living and ministering with chronic pain here:

First Ever Interview: Living in Chronic Pain with the Whiskey Preacher

First Ever Interview: Living in Chronic Pain with the Whiskey Preacher

“Every time I look for God amid sorrow, I always find Jesus at the cross, in death and resurrection. This is our God. Not a distant judge, nor a sadist. But a God who weeps. A God who suffers not only for us but with us. Nowhere is the presence of God more salient than on the cross. Therefore, what can I do but confess that this is not a God who causes suffering. This is a God who bears suffering. I need to believe that God does not initiate suffering. God transforms it.”   – Nadia Bolz-Webber from Pastrix

Recently I was invited by Phil Shepherd aka The Whiskey Preacher to be the subject of an interview for his blog.  Turn about being fair play, I asked if I could interview him for Word of a Woman.

In the last couple months Phil has been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and is living with chronic pain.

Following is our discussion on living with that pain…

In the next day or two I will be posting the flip side of this video in which Phil talks to me about my personal evolution to becoming an LGBTQ ally.

Please look up Phil at:

Outlaw Theology on Patheos

On Facebook

On Twitter

The Eucatastrophe

Phil’s personal webpage

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.

Floods, Drowning and God

Credit: Michael Ciaglo/AP

Now flood every portal of my mind
And flood everything I’ve tried to hide
I am looking to the sky
And I’m calling for a flood
Submerge me, Lord, in holy water
Drown me to live in You
Flood every corner of this room
And fill all the emptiness with You
Lord, we long to be consumed
And we’re calling for a flood                        – Calling for a Flood by John Waller

Lay me down in the waves
Let the water wash away
And if I leave with the tide
In the morning I will rise
So lay me down
Don’t lift me out
Let me drown                     -Let me Drown by We As Human

Have you seen the images coming out of Colorado? Do you remember Katrina? How about the Tsunami of 2004? Have you read the story of Noah in Genesis?

Floods suck. Floods are terrifying, destructive and unpredictable. They cause death and destruction and heartache. People drown. Drowning is not peaceful or pleasant.

Let me be clear, I DO NOT WANT GOD TO FLOOD ME WITH ANYTHING. I DO NOT WANT TO DROWN IN HIS LOVE or HIS MERCY or ANYTHING ELSE.  Can we please stop using this imagery?

The word flood is used in the Bible 47 times. Only two of them are positive. One is in Malachi where it talks about the floodgates (think of these like the spillway doors on a dam) of heaven being opened up to pour out a blessing too big to be able to be received. The other is in Isaiah where it says, “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream”. Neither of these sounds like the life threatening floods mentioned in many worship songs. Often these songs allude to floods of love, grace or mercy sent by God that result in our death by drowning. And we sing them. Often to saccharine, lilty tunes with a peaceful feel to them.  I’ve got news for you..

The word drown is found 10 times in Scripture. NONE OF THEM ARE GOOD.  There is no mention of a peaceful river of blessing where Jesus lovingly holds you under until you can’t breathe. And no room, as the song above mentions, where people happily begged God to drown them in his presence like Charlie on LOST.

I know people try to make this flooding and drowning imagery about baptism. But the scriptures never teach this. In Romans 6:1-11 it says,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Yes, we identify with the burial and resurrection of Jesus when we go down into the water and when we come out. We obviously are not literally dead, nor do any (non cult) groups advocate actual physical death in order to escape sin. The way in which we identify with his death is by recognizing that through Jesus we can be dead to sin; that is, sin has no more power over us because God is no longer holding our sins against us. No flood. No drowning.

Listen, I understand poetic license. I understand literary imagery. I understand figures of speech. I don’t expect every song (or any song for that matter) to only use words out of the 66 books of Canonized scripture. What I don’t understand are metaphors comparing what Jesus offers to death, destruction or war. Yes, I said war. One song I have heard actually says, “If you are the war then let me be your casualty.” No. No. No.  JESUS IS NOT THE WAR and WE ARE NOT HIS CASUALTY. EVER. He is however, the author of life and the prince of peace. He died to absorb wrath not to bring it. He does not bring destruction he delivers us from it.

My friend from Colorado told me this morning that some people are using the recent flooding in her area of Colorado as an occasion to liken actual floods to God’s flooding us with blessings or flooding us with the spirit. Please, no. Make it stop. That kind of talk is insensitive at best. God’s blessings look nothing like a flood that has left thousands displaced, a rising death toll and more than 1,200 unaccounted for.

In defense of the F-word. WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE (duh.)

Don’t throw your verses at my sins like stones.
My Jesus ain’t your sword.
Your scripture bombs don’t work on me.
My bindings have been torn
Your flaming tongue can’t touch me now.
My standing has been set.
I don’t need you to approve.
I’m not your fucking pet.

Don’t say my sin turns Christ away
He touched the lepers’ sores
Don’t tell me he can’t stand by sin
He crashed tradition’s mores
His insane love fills in my gaps
His righteousness my own
Keep your judgement to yourself
His grace to me he’s shown

Keep your righteous indignation please
that turns people away
I can’t look you in the face
When with people’s soul’s you play
You cover your ass when things go bad
Instead of coming near.
You protect what’s yours when faced with truth
Actions that come from fear.

Throw your body on the flames
to protect the threatened child
Bring cold water as a drink
to those convicted in trial.
Cover and feed, Defend those in need
Break down your prison wall
Let those who need a doctor in
Isn’t that us all?

Sometimes life is too fucking hard. This was that kind of week. I have friends who are in pain; the kind of pain that denies purpose and defies explanation. I have another friend who was told that her worship was not equal to theirs because of who she loves and her perceived sins.

We had a discussion in the car the other night about swearing or cursing and specifically “the F-word.” Some people are of the mind that there is never a time to use the F-word. And although I believe it to be vastly overused, it is my contention that there is absolutely a time to utter a well placed F-bomb. Let’s-be-face-it* lovelies, there is a time when saying “that is messed up” just doesn’t get the job done.

Fuck is the most powerful word in my personal lexicon that I am willing to use. I don’t use the C-word nor do I use the N-word because they demean people no matter the context. One reduces a person to their skin color and one reduces a person to their body parts. But I’ll tell you what, when the love of your life dies, when your leg is blown off by an IED, when your child has been abused… “That fucking sucks!” might be the most loving thing someone can say to you.

There is a song by Billy Falcon that sums it up perfectly. It is called When and you can and should listen to it here:

Did you watch?

“Sometimes life is so fuckin’ unfair…” Yes it is Billy. Yes. It. Is.

* Let’s-be-face-it is a term coined by my husband in the jacuzzi one night during a deep discussion with friends. It was created when my husband couldn’t get out either “let’s face it” or “let’s be honest” so what came out was, “let’s-be-face-it”. And a phenomenon in our social circle was born. Feel free to use it with reckless abandon.

AWOL from the Christian Culture War.

“Let them vote ‘no’ to this ordinance, and ‘yes’ to the reign of the kingdom of God,” Pastor Charles Flowers said at the rally. He said this right before joining the crowd in booing Eric Alva, an openly gay Marine staff sergeant who became the first U.S. soldier injured in Iraq when he stepped on a landmine, spoke in favor of an ordinance that would protect people against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity at a San Antonio City Council meeting on Wednesday night.

Sigh. I find the culture war exhausting, distasteful and confusing. I am overcome with the cloud of war and have become convinced that the people who sit in the Christian War Room drawing up plans and maps are fighting for the wrong causes for all the wrong reasons.

So, as of today, I am going AWOL. I am out of here. I am trading in my faith fatigues for flowers and my Bible bombs for hugs.

In reality, I actually defected in my heart a long time ago, and have expressed my dissent and disagreement with the Christian Culture War Machine long and loud on many an occasion. The difference today is that I am declaring my independence and leaving the ranks.

I mean why do people who claim to follow Christ want to fight a war that Jesus never asked them to fight?

In Jesus’ day many people were looking for the Messiah to come in and politically and militarily take over and set up a physical kingdom right then. Many people were actually quite disappointed to find out that Jesus was not interested in removing Caesar or even the Sanhedrin from power. Almost as disappointed perhaps as some might be to learn that Jesus has no interest in impeaching President Obama.

Jesus was also faced with a woman caught in the act of adultery (an offence according to Jewish law that had very specific and dire consequences) he did not stand on the side of the powers that would have chosen to see this woman stoned to death. He stood on the side of the woman and extended radical grace to her. The men who accused her were testing Jesus to see if he would uphold the law. He did not. Do you think there would be the same level of disappointment  on the faces of people today when Jesus stands by the side of a woman who chooses abortion and extends radical grace to her?

When people were upset by the company Jesus kept and the parties he attended, when they called him a drunk and a sinner, he didn’t stop to please them. He didn’t cut them off either. He simply continued to be who he was and let people make their own decisions about him. I try to apply this principle on Facebook when people disagree with me. I have yet to sever ties with friends who disagree with me, I continue on being who I believe he calls me to be and allow people the freedom to choose to sever ties or stay friends. I always hope for the latter.

Jesus, though he was able to call down the power of heaven to free himself from the cross, instead chose to absorb the hate and give back forgiveness. I am afraid there were people there who were disappointed that he did not call down the fire and wipe out “the enemies”. Even people who had lived with him and had heard his teachings. How often are God‘s foot soldiers caught up in forcing people to conform to what they believe by passing laws which do nothing to change people’s hearts?

*side note: This isn’t just happening here at home. American Christians are also instrumental in influencing laws in other countries. A prime example of this can be found in Uganda’s Anti-gay Legislation, which you can read about here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/world/africa/04uganda.html?_r=0

As far as I can tell, Jesus was/is on the side of the lepers, the women, the overlooked, the underestimated, the ones who drink too much, say too much, feel to much. He also was/is on the side of the privileged, the zealot, the religious, the goody-two-shoes and the ones who are just too tired to go on. He loves us all. His kingdom is a kingdom of peace. His law is a law of love. His righteousness is a free gift that is neither bought nor earned by any of us.

My allegiance is to this king and this kingdom. Not to some misguided war machine that is dedicated to fighting against the people they were sent to love. Too often they have used Jesus himself as a weapon and his words to wound instead of heal.

The very people Jesus intends to be the Red Cross to a dying and imprisoned world; who he sends to deliver the good news that their imprisonment is over and that God is not holding their sins against them; instead point to the bars and make sure the prisoners knew their captivity is their own damn fault.

Here is the commission I believe Jesus offers and I gladly accept: Ambassador of the God who came near. I will willing and joyfully serve as the Minister of Reconciliation for the one who took all the wrath that humans could dish out and said, I choose love.

Blown away by love.

ImageThe events of the week are enough to make your heart burst. I don’t have to tell you again what they are do I? No my lovelies. I will not do that here. Your heart knows. My heart knows.   It knows that there is just too damn little precious, swiftly passing time. If tragedy serves any purpose at all for the living it must be (in my estimation) the cruelest reminder to love. Love now. Love big. Love deep. Love radical. Extend grace where it is not deserved. Hug a stranger just because they look like they need one (ask first). Give to someone and expect nothing. Forgive. Forgive. And Forgive. Again. Even the one who has hurt you in the worst way. Extinguish your hatred. Hatred of the other, the different, the them. Who are “they anyway”? Aren’t they us? What is it that is keeping you from loving? If you are going to let those fucking bombs, that damn fire destroy something why not let it blow down the walls we have constructed to divide ourselves from each other? Why not love in the most radical way possible?

Me? I am a follower of Jesus. In my estimation the most radical lover, the most radical forgiver, the most genuine, least judgmental person who ever walked this earth.

Sidenote: People always say you should fear his judgement as he will be the judge on the last day. Personally, I think you should be super relieved and overjoyed that he will be your judge. If he is anything like he was on earth (which was the exact representation of who God is), he will find ways to forgive that you cannot even imagine. He will judge with mercy and compassion. This is the man who came to save all. Who died for all. He took the full weight of all the worst the world and humanity has to offer and he absorbed it and he looked it in the face and he pronounced love and forgiveness. BOOM!

If there is anything we must do in the face of inexplicable tragedy, inexplicable betrayal and inexplicable hate in order to be like God it is to absorb all the flying sharp pieces of ugliness and hate and judgement and to fire back love, explode forgiveness and blow people away with inexplicable grace and mercy. It is his way. It is the way of life. Let me tell you, this life is too damn short for me to hold on to the shit. Today I defiantly choose love. Won’t you join me?

Choice
Pieces of you
Free Hugs