Thursday, June 26, 2014

why the church shouldn't fight gay marriage

Many people will disagree with this post. Hopefully there will also be many who agree or are at least willing consider this perspective. And why even post something when I know there will be a large number who disagree and want to debate? My purpose is not to stir things up. I don’t want to start debates. I’m not looking to cause problems. But, I do believe my thoughts are worth sharing. These are my thoughts and my opinions. No, I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t have all the answers. And there is very little I am 100% certain of. But my thoughts matter. And this subject is important to me. I sincerely hope that someone may benefit from me voicing my thoughts. Maybe it will be the words you’ve been looking for but didn’t know how to say. Maybe it will cause you to reconsider your current viewpoint. Maybe you won’t change your viewpoint but can still respect mine. That’s why I even bother writing a post that I know people might want to argue with me on. If even one person can benefit from me speaking up, it’s worth it.

The number one reason I hear (perhaps even the only reason?) for people being against gay marriage is because they say it is not biblical. It usually comes from the church, of course, because only those claiming Christianity would even care if something is biblical. But let me ask the church this— are you really fighting for biblical marriage? The church says same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legal because it’s not biblical. Let’s start with why that even matters. My opinion— it doesn’t. We are not a Christian nation. Why does the church expect the entire country to follow their rules and adhere to the Christian religion? Religious groups can believe whatever they want about homosexuality and marriage, but should not expect people who do not claim their religion to follow it. (Also, I should note, I realize there are christians and churches that accept homosexuality and support gay marriage. In this post, when I say “christian” and “church”, I am simply referring to the vast majority that do not.) The bible is against divorce, yet I don’t hear churches fighting to make divorce illegal. I haven’t seen pickets outside of courthouses to make gluttony illegal. The bible speaks SO OFTEN about giving to the poor and caring for the needy, yet churches aren’t fighting to make it mandatory that we do so. WHY? Besides the fact that the church picks and chooses what it feels is important and worth fighting for from the bible, I think the church knows it can’t expect everyone to follow their guidelines and standards. So why expect it with marriage?   I’ve heard it said that marriage is defined by God, and that’s why the church fights for biblical marriage laws. If it’s a sacred religious ceremony to you, I support that. I don’t want to take away your biblical idea of marriage. But then, the thing is, we need different words. “Marriage” is just an English word. And when the bible was translated to English, it was stuck in there. I haven’t researched the history or origin of the word, but I don’t want to get into that— just stick with me. My point is that it’s just a word. We decide what words mean and how to use them. Not everyone views marriage, even straight marriage, as a sacred religious ceremony. Why is the issue of gay marriage the only time I hear the church fighting for biblical marriage? Why isn’t the church fighting to make all marriages that are not biblical illegal? People get married all the time that are not religious. Should atheist not be allowed to get married? If the church is worried about profaning their sacred, biblical ceremony of marriage, we simply need different words for it. Everyone deserves the same legal rights that come with a marriage union. Everyone deserves to be able to have that union. But not everyone sees that marriage union as defined and established by God. Again, why is gay marriage the only time the church is worried about a marriage not being biblical? I’ve never heard a peep or seen a petition or picket sign with concern for marriage not being biblical regarding any other issue. 

So that’s why I ask this question to the church— are you really fighting for biblical marriage? If so, you’ve got more work to do outside of gay marriage. Or maybe, just maybe, we could agree that everyone deserves the same legal rights, regardless of the fact that their religion or perspective differs from yours. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

perspective, attitude and poop

Our perspective influences our attitude. In fact, I would even say our perspective forms our attitude. How we see things determines our mood and outlook. And we tend to see things as if everyone is out to get us. That car that pulled out in front of me-- how dare they! I know they saw me coming, and they just pulled out anyway! @*#&!! $%@*!! We assume they intintionally pulled out in front of us. They probably did it solely to piss us off. We make it all about us. The car that cut us off. The noisy neighbors. The seemingly unfriendly cashier. The person holding up the line. The strict boss. We make it about us. And when we do this, when our perspective is all about how something will influence me, how it affects me, this usually leads to anger, jealousy, bitterness and hatred. We get angry at the car that pulls out in front of us because we only care about their actions in how they influence us (although, let's be honest, when they cut us off… it really, actually… didn't affect us… at all).

My dad and I recently took a trip to Houston, where my brother had moved just a few days before. My dad and I went to help him move in to his new apartment. As we were out and about a lot, running errands and purchasing things for the new place, we determined that Houston drivers are a bit crazy. Sometimes it was humorous. Sometimes it would piss us off. And all the time it left us saying, "What the…?!".

I don't remember the situation exactly, but I suppose someone cut us off. It was just one of those situations where you watch the other driver and wonder what the hell they're doing. After initially being frustrated, my brother finally says, "Well, maybe she had to poop really bad." From then on out, instead of getting frustrated when a driver cut us off or tailgated or sped past us, we would just assume that they probably had to poop really bad. And then how could we not be understanding? Their actions suddenly made much more sense with that perspective!

It's no fun to go through life constantly angry, frustrated, upset, jealous or assuming everyone is out to get you. It will lead to bitterness and hatred. This is something I've been learning over the past several years. It's a lesson life has tried to teach me many times and I didn't listen. I'm listening now. I'm trying to be teachable. I choose happiness. I choose joy. I choose to extend grace and forgiveness and understanding. It's not easy and I certainly don't have it perfected. It takes a conscious effort. It takes a conscious effort to make it not all about me. Maybe the noisy neighbors don't realize we can hear them. Maybe the seemingly unfriendly cashier is going through a divorce. Maybe the person holding up the line is flustered and distracted with the bad news they just received. Maybe the strict boss is struggling to hold it all together. And maybe the person in the car that cut us off just has to poop really bad.

When we make the effort to change our perspective, our attitude will, without a doubt, change. Not just our attitude in that moment, but in how we go through life. When we learn to let things go. When we realize the world is not out to get us. When we see things for more than just how they affect us, our attitude is better. Life is better.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

a beautiful thing

The past year has been quite the journey for me. I've done a lot of wrestling. A lot of seeking. A lot of discovering. A lot of change. I've wrestled with God, I've wrestled with myself. And I'm in the process of freeing myself.

I was thinking more about the whole nakedness thing that I talked about in this post. I think nakedness and freedom are interwoven. We often live as slaves without even realizing it. We're restricted. We're slaves to the masks we wear, we let fear control us. Fear of the unknown. Fear of nakedness. Fear of rejection. We're slaves to the opinions of others. We become dependent on what others will think. Always denying ourselves to please others. Always forfeiting our happiness "for the sake of others". That's what we tell ourselves anyway. But I don't think it needs to be that way. I don't think we need to forfeit our freedom and happiness to also be considerate of others and live in humility.

Freedom isn't about doing whatever you want and only pleasing yourself. It's having the right or ability to do whatever you want. It's "the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved". And that is a beautiful thing.

I was recently reading Hebrews 4, where the author talks about entering God's rest. Matthew Henry's notes of vs 10 are this: "Every true believer hath ceased from his own works of righteousness, and from the burdensome works of the law…" then he pointed me to Matthew 11:28. We all know the verse. "Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Henry's notes on this verse, "the Jews suffered under a heavy load of religious responsibilities laid on them by priests, rabbis, scribes and Pharisees. Rest is a relief from this burden." And it hit me in a way it never had before. It made Matthew 11:28 so much more beautiful to me. All wrestling I've been doing. The debates in my head. Struggling to find the Truth. Wrestling with religion and church and God and what it all really means--- it was exhausting. It was burdensome. But Jesus tells me to just come to Him and He will give me rest.

Freedom. That's what I'm working towards. And it's a beautiful thing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Paleo Bread

I'm not much of a cook. Or baker. What I'm saying is that I don't do much in the kitchen. I don't have cabinets stocked with ingredients. If I did decide I wanted to cook something, I'd likely have to make a run to the store first. With extra time on my hands today, I decided to actually DO that thing I keep saying I want to do. Homemade bread. So I made a quick (okay, not so quick) run to the store (okay, two stores) to get my supplies. I had chosen a Paleo bread recipe. I'm not on a Paleo diet, but the recipe looked healthy and fairly simple. After all is said and done and the bread has been tasted, I can say that I'm in love with this bread! Here is the recipe I used from Elana's Pantry.

The bread was simple and quick to prep, and I didn't even make much of a mess! It bakes for 30 mins and turned out wonderfully!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

get naked with someone

I'm reading a book called "Thrashing About With God". I just read the chapter called "Naked", where, in story form, the author tells of looking at herself naked in a mirror. A college professor had told her, "I recommend looking at yourself naked in the mirror each morning. A good hard look. A look that chooses to take it all in, even the parts you've been ignoring because you don't want to see. Those are parts of you as well." She stares at the stranger in the mirror, taking the time to get to know this person. This flawed, uncovered, unprotected from clothes person. "'I will love you when you're naked,' she whispers to herself, leaning dangerously close to the mirror. 'I will study your unedited bits. Your uncovered flaws. The darkness of your details. I won't be afraid to go there with you... I have lived with you and ignored you. Now I will pay attention and become familiar with your hidden beauty.'"

We fear our imperfections. We fear rejection if we reveal too much. Fear is what makes us hate nakedness. Physical and emotional nakedness. So we cover our body with clothes. Shower, towel, clothes. Don't look at the nakedness. And we cover our hearts. Never letting it be fully exposed.

The bible tells us to bear one another's burdens. Most of the time though, we're too scared to even tell others about our burdens, nonetheless, let them bear it with us. We keep secrets, we hide parts of who we are, we wear masks, we try to carry our burdens alone, we try to fight our demons alone. Because what would happen if we fully exposed ourselves? Took off our masks? I would not dare walk down the aisle at my church, stand in front of everyone and just pour it all out. Be completely honest and real. Share my struggles and things I've done. I wouldn't do it. I would like to say exposure is something we needn't fear, but I don't think that's the case. I don't think this fear of being naked is completely fabricated. I think it comes from experience. It's something we've learned. The idea that physical nakedness is "bad" is learned. We were born naked and had no problem with it. Most toddlers prefer to strip off their annoying clothes and run around naked. They are not embarrassed. They don't know it's "bad" to be exposed. It's learned. (What's deemed inappropriate is also hugely cultural, but I'm sticking with the western view, since that's what most of us have.) It's the same with our hearts. We've been burned. We've been rejected. We've been made fun of. We've been told that something we feel or think is not okay. And so we've learned to keep covered. Over time, we stop revealing so much of ourselves. We hide more and more, putting on one mask after the other.

I have this scary looking tattoo that usually freaks people out. I admit, it doesn't quite fit in the box of my usual style of tattoos. But, here's the meaning behind it. It's a type of Japanese mask that people were afraid to wear, believing that when you took it off it would take your spirit out of you. I had given this quote to my tattoo artist, "We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin."

While I think we have good reason to fear emotional nakedness, I don't think it's good. With all the hiding and the masks and the pretending, we will lose who we are. We all wear different masks and for different reasons. And I don't think the band-aid approach applies to this. I don't think you need to suddenly rip off all your masks and fully expose yourself. Sometimes we keep secrets to protect ourselves or others. Maybe the timing just isn't right for you to reveal certain things. That's okay. But take a risk. Be brave. Maybe you can't get naked with everyone, but get naked with someone. Take time to get to know yourself, naked and exposed. Learn to love yourself. Let others love you, naked and exposed.