Wednesday, September 11, 2013

coming out with a stand...

I recently read this blog post by John Shore-- My dog in the fight for LGBT equality.  I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here's the gist of it. John was asked this question by a radio host, “John, what’s your dog in this fight? You’re not gay. Why do you care so much about the issue of LGBT people and the church?”. You'll have to read the blog for his response, but the question got me thinking. It reminded me of this short video about justice-- Is Justice Worth It?  Don't worry, I'm done with links for now. Watch the video, brings me to tears every time I do. The video asks the question if fighting for justice is even worth it. But to those who become friends and family with those who suffer, that question is ridiculous. A quote from the video, "It's one thing to wonder if someone else is worth fighting for, but when you begin to identify with that someone else, commune with them, that's when the question becomes no longer worth asking... You never stop fighting for your own."

In the past several months to a year, you've seen me post more and more about homosexuality. I've probably surprised you. Your jaw has dropped. You've prayed for me because I've obviously backslidden. Though, in all my crazy "she-must-be-so-far-gone" posts, I've never really come out and said where I stand. I've reposted other peoples articles and blogs and thoughts. So here are my own. Here is my stand. I choose to love and support gay people. I choose to fight for LGBT equality. Because they're people.

Originally, this post was just going to be about divorce and homosexuality. I don't have a smooth transition to go into that... so here it is...

When talking about homosexuality, I'm always hesitant to bring up divorce as a way of trying to get my point across. I don't know, call me crazy, but I don't like offending people. I take no pleasure in it. Sure, I offend people sometimes. Intentionally, unintentionally- I offend people. And I'm sorry. But I try to be considerate and sensitive to peoples feelings. So, even when people are using their favorite clobber verses from the Bible to tear down gay people, I'm hesitant to counter with verses about divorce. Because I realize that while, yes, the Bible speaks out against divorce, divorce is a complex thing. And human beings have this thing called emotion. With divorce usually comes pain. Struggle. Fear. Heartache. And not even just because the Bible tells me to, I want to err on the side of love and compassion. That seems to be how Jesus rolled as well. He had compassion on people. He broke the law to heal people. Yup, broke the law. Which, as any good Christian can tell you, Jesus was without sin. So chew on that.

When I repost a blog or a quote or an article about homosexuality (and mind you, it's usually simply about loving gay people), and people jump in with their abomination verses and attacks... it kills me. It kills me to see the church acting this way. And, when I know the person has been divorced, I have the ever smallest urge to clobber them with verses. I don't for two reasons-- I would feel bad. Again, I don't like to offend people or be insensitive to their pain. And secondly-- I don't want to use the Bible to clobber people! I'm pretty sure that's not it's purpose. (I already know your thoughts- "but we are suppose to hold each other accountable! we're suppose to live to a higher standard! we shouldn't compromise the truth!"... Stay with me. I just said the purpose of the Bible is not to clobber people. Leave it at that.)

And it's not just divorce. Greed. Lust. Lying. But those things are easier to hide. And harder to pinpoint just what exactly qualifies. I mean, I can't be greedy if I have a lot less than others, right? Or could it be considered greedy if I even only had two shirts when someone else is living with none? If that was what it took to qualify as greed, then we'd be in trouble.  

But we pick and choose what verses we think should apply to our lives. We decide the value we'll give to each one. Oh, that verse? Well, you have to look at the context. This one? Keep in mind the culture! This verse? Well, to be honest, I don't know what that means... but surely it can't mean what it says because that would contradict other verses. That one? Well, just look at the author and to whom he is writing... it doesn't apply to us! That verse that uses the word"homosexuality"? Forget the context, forget the culture. Hell, let's also forget all other verses about love and compassion and Jesus caring about people more than the law. Sure, those verses far out-number the mentions of homosexuality, but let's forget them.  I don't know about you, but that does not sit well with me. I am not okay with it. 

Back to divorce and homosexuality. We all know someone that has been divorced. Maybe that's why we treat it differently. Someone close to us has been through it. We understand that it was a hard time for them. We understand their situation. We have compassion on them and the pain they went through. We felt their pain with them. We carried the burden and struggle with them. Maybe you don't know someone who is gay. I mean really know them. Maybe you know a person that is gay and you sat with them at a coffee shop to tell them how sinful they are- that is not knowing them. With homosexuality usually comes pain. Struggle. Fear. Heartache. Let's carry that burden and struggle with them. You don't have to fully understand it (though, I promise, if you take the time and put in half an effort, you will surprise yourself) to love them. You don't even have to throw out your beliefs or views to carry their burden and struggle with them.

Try to take some time learning about the struggle of LGBTs, even if it's not a personal encounter. Research. Look online. Check out this org, The Trevor Project, that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Did you know that LGB youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers? As the body of Christ, shouldn't we be concerned? Shouldn't we be reaching out? We should be partnering with orgs like the Trevor Project.

Church, this is not the first time we have isolated and devalued a group of people. But I pray to God that we seek forgiveness and that it's the last. Church, what you call "speaking the truth in love" is not love at all. People that struggle with homosexual feelings are more likely to embrace homosexuality and leave the church than they are to "leave" homosexuality. Just because you cannot understand their battle does not make it less of a battle. They are walking away from the faith and God they grew up with, the faith and God they once loved and treasured, because their struggle is so real. Because they feel isolated and bullied by the church. John Shore has a book called "UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question". On his blog, John asked gay Christians to share their stories. He then compiled a selection of the responses into this book. Here are a few of the titles of these letters: "I did not want to exist anymore", "An aching loneliness", "I was in unsafe territory", "I was scared", "I am torn", "Deep pain and rejection", "Years of feelings lost", "Desperate to not be gay", "I'm an abomination", "I begged god", "They publicly prayed for my death", "I lived 30 years alone". Does this not tear your heart apart? Yes, justice is worth it. Yes, love is worth it. Yes, I will fight for them and with them!

If you get to know them, commune with them, identify with them, you will share in their struggle. You will carry their burdens with them. Their pain will be your pain. Their battles will be your battles. And that's why I take this stand. That's my dog in the fight for LGBT equality. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

searching for peace

I was in bed. Ready for sleep. I wish I hadn't heard the notification. The CourierPress app with the headline "Cyclist killed identified as Vectren President". I, of course, proceeded to read the article. Damn, now I can't sleep. I hate death. Some might say that Christians shouldn't hate death. But death is the result of sin. It's a reminder of this sinful, falling apart world. It's loss, it's pain. So, yeah, I hate it.

A guy went out cycling, and now he is gone.  A 23 yr old young lady, her life is changed too. Maybe she was heading into work or out running errands. Obviously, whether the result is injury or death, bein the victim is a scary thought. But, I also cannot imagine living with the burden of knowing I changed or took someone's life. Heavy stuff.

But, believe it or not, the main thing on my mind isn't death. It's peace. I don't have it. Not just about dying. Though yes, that too. I know, I know, this world is not our home. And heaven and being with Jesus is far greater than we can imagine. Fact is-- this world has been my home for 28 years. And another fact-- I've never died before. Surprise!! So, death is scary. I don't care who you are or what you say. Death is impossible for us to wrap our minds around. Death is the unknown. And it's hard to be completely at peace with the unknown.

It's not just death though. I just don't really feel peace. And I don't think I'm the only one. It almost seems as though people who don't identify as Christians are more at peace than those who do. Why is that? I struggle with doubt. Not doubt that God exists, (well, yeah, I've been there, too) but doubts about who God really is. What the Bible is really saying. What's the point, the meaning? I doubt, I struggle, I question. And you overconfident Christians out there, you don't fool me. Have you always believed the same as you do now? Unlikely. I've changed a lot in the past 5 years. At 23, man, I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I knew the answers. The meaning of it all. I was confident. I thought I was right! Now, I look at my 23 year old self and shake my head. I was naive and foolish! Arrogant. Prideful. Blind. But, I thought I was seeking God and the Truth and pleasing Him. Now, I know for certain that I don't believe some of those things I was so certain about (Ah, but how can I be certain?!). Other things, I'm still wrestling with. Sometimes, I get tired of wrestling. I know people who appear to have peace. Believers and non-believers. What is it? I'm not looking for the church answers here. Maybe it's largely accepting, or figuring out, who you are. It would be hard to be at peace when you're wrestling with your own identity. Maybe it's figuring out who you believe God to be. His character, His attributes. His will. Of course, you might change your mind about that 5 years down the road, but maybe having a small amount of confidence would be enough for now.

I just want to be happy. Really happy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not depressed. My life doesn't suck. But I just don't have that peace or joy or confidence that I see in some people. I'm striving for it though. I try to be positive, to see the good in things, to be kind, to seek God, to love others. Enjoy the journey.

Wait, you know what? I think it's freedom. Which has to do with both knowing who you are and knowing who you believe God to be. When you feel free to be who you are. That would lead to peace.  And as a believer, freedom in Christ. Church people always talk about "freedom in Christ", but then everything else they say seems to say, "No, you can't be free to believe that or think that or do that. No, you're not really free.". I think I need to figure out what it means to be free.