LifeWalk

______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

SIN July 4, 2013

sin       [From “Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed,” by Jay Bakker with Andy Meisenheimer]


When people lose their jobs, aren’t promoted, are discriminated against, are treated differently, are described as “gay” as an insult, get kicked out of their churches, and are disowned by their families THAT is Sin!

The non-affirming of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in the church is destroying families – at times with surprising violence – all in the name of God and holiness.
That is Sin!

Jesus said we would be known by our love, but when it comes to the LGBTQ community, we are known by our uncomfortable silence, our fight against their civil right to marry, our moral outrage, our discrimination, and our stereotyping.  A “welcoming-but-not-affirming policy is both self-contradictory and cruel.

________________________________________

The very notion of a “right” is that it places limits on the arbitrary power of the majority.  Equal rights shouldn’t be based on a vote. (via William Stacy Johnson)

The church historically has lagged behind government when it comes to issues of civil liberties.

The church should be on the front lines of the fight for the civil liberties of the oppressed.
The lyrics of the U2 song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” ask, “How long must we sing this song?” How long are we going to cling to outdated notions of homosexuality and refuse to accept LGBTQ people into our midst?

_____________________________

Jay Bakker

Jay’s new book is, so far, fantastic! I’m just in 7 of 12 chapters (14, if you count the introduction and conclusion).
The above post is mostly about marriage equality, but that’s just this chapter. A lot of other issues are covered in these pages. This is my latest “Must Read” that I will be highly recommending to any and every reader, especially those who acknowledge faith in Christ.
[Of course, the “church” has often been the entity which has perpetrated the most vile and unholy sin, all in the name of God, and all while deceiving itself into believing it was the force attempting to eliminate sin.
To be fair, it has also been those of the Church (albeit the non-“fundamentalist” portion) who have fought for, and died for, the dignity, rights, and humanity of the oppressed. Who have, in fact, fought the sin of religious control and intolerance. – df]

For a different topic from the book, see: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vvcr11lancq3see/Paul.docx

Buy the book. Click HERE.

 

Sick May 15, 2012

Some people are “sick” of hearing about marriage equality.

I imagine it would have been easy to say “I’m sick of hearing about freeing the slaves.”
Unless, of course, you were a slave.

It would have been easy to say “I’m sick of hearing about women getting the vote.”
Unless you were a woman.

Agree to disagree?
Sure.  I do that all the time.
But I can’t accept inequality and injustice under the guise of “loving those who disagree.”
Can I love them?
Of course I can.  But I believe the clear choice is that I must stand with the oppressed.
Not with the oppressor.
I truly believe that is the way of Christ.
Things can, though, get very strange when both the oppressed and the oppressors are your brothers and sisters.

You may be sick of any minority taking a stand for rights that you take for granted.
Tough!
They’re sick of having to fight for the rights denied them.

If you need to be sick of something, there’s plenty to be sick of.

It’s time to be sick of centuries of religious oppression in the name of God.
It’s time to be sick of blaming your hate on Jesus, when there are plenty of
God-fearing Jesus lovers who don’t hold your views.
It’s time to be sick of hearing “It’s not me.  It’s the Bible” when there are almost
forty-thousand  Christian denominations who disagree with each other, while
all claiming the Bible as their authority.
It’s time to be sick of people being bullied, tortured, and even killed because of their orientation.

I recently read something to the effect of
“You are free to have a gun.
You are not free to use it against whomever you please.
You are free to have a religion.
You are not free to impose your religious views on the rest of the country.”
If you believe it’s a sin (as some do) to drink beer, then don’t drink beer!
But don’t for one minute presume to inflict that belief on those who wish to drink beer.
You don’t believe in same-sex marriage?  Don’t marry someone of the same sex!

To borrow from a popular ad:
“That was easy.”
Why is it so hard to see that following your convictions is about how YOU act, and
not about controlling others?!?!?! (Of course, control and manipulation are major characteristics of religion in the first place.)

So, your’re sick of hearing about marriage equality.
Well, I guess the first step to recovery is to admit you’re sick.
Please get well soon.

– df

[Also see: FOOTNOTE.]

 

It’s Time November 25, 2011

I present to you an absolutely stunning, stunning ad from Australia.
It is to the point, universal, and says it all.
(And you don’t even really need to have the sound up.)

 

Facts On Marriage Equality November 10, 2010

Marriage is about committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other—that’s true of same-sex couples, too. Straight and gay couples want to marry for the same reasons, to build a life with the person they love.

Ending the exclusion of gay people from marriage would not change the “definition” of marriage, but it would remove a discriminatory barrier from the path of people who have made a personal commitment to each other and are now ready and willing to take on the responsibilities and legal commitment of marriage. These couples are asking to be included in the current definition of marriage: love, commitment and security shared between two people. When same-sex couples marry, they don’t change the “definition” of anyone else’s marriage.

Extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples would not compel any church or clergy to marry gay and lesbian couples. It would allow clergy members who wish to marry same-sex couples to do so. Churches have long been able to decide who they would and would not marry whether it’s divorced individuals looking to remarry or interfaith couples.

Read more. Get the facts at:
http://www.freedomtomarry.org/


Also read what Justin has to say at:
Justin’s View

And my Footnote from a previous article.

 

Comments On A Comment August 29, 2010

[A friend posted a comment on my “Tribbles” article to which I started responding.  I saw my writing becoming rather lengthy, and decided to just make it another post.  You should read her comments and insights before reading the following post.  Her comments are at:
https://lifewalkblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/tribbles-arent-the-trouble-labels-are/#comment-322
There are a number of other comments on that post as well.]


I too, am hesitant to attribute events to the direct hand of God.  McLaren spoke of  how “in the ancient world, there is little consciousness of intermediate causality. If lightning strikes, God (or the gods) did it – because there’s little understanding of intermediate causes like atmospheric convection, heat transfer, cold fronts, static electricity, and the like.”

Sometimes, we still seem to have that mindset.  Yet I believe there is some kind of strange mix of destiny and free will.  I don’t know where or how they intersect, but I believe in both.  Christians, especially evangelicals, are all about having, as you said, to know exactly what they believe on every subject.  I, like you, hold to some personal “basics.”  But outside of that, I’m all for a lot of leeway.


We may not actually say it this way, but evangelical Christianity really is a “knowing all the ‘right’ facts about God,” more than knowing God.  It doesn’t take much to prove that.  Just tell an evangelical that you may believe in evolution; or that you not sure the creation story is a literal one-week period.  You may wish to stand back.
I’ve known it to be said that “If you don’t believe the creation story exactly as written, then you don’t believe in the Cross of Christ.”
What?!?!?
Of course, as I’ve said before, that’s why there are hundreds, if not thousands of denominations who disagree and fight, but yet somehow feel justified in saying “Well, we just believe the Bible.”  But that’s been covered in previous posts.

There’s a great follow-up to “The Shack,” called “The Beauty of Ambiguity.”
It talks, as you said, of finding peace in not having to know what you believe about every little thing.  I’m convinced that if we could get God all figured out, He wouldn’t be God.


You talked of people who “feel they have to hide their brokenness, or their doubts, or the fact that they smoke or vote Democrat or whatever, out of fear of being misunderstood or rejected by the body of Christ. And that’s a terrible shame.”

A terrible shame it is.  And it’s due in large part the self-righteous religion that now calls itself Christianity.  Some seem to think that how you vote might determine your final destination.  No wonder people feel the need to hide their true selves.  But legalism always breeds hypocrisy.


I like your reference to us as “characters in this beautiful story of redemption.”
I can’t say exactly when or how my story took the dramatic turn that it did..  Naysayers would say I started going down that “slippery slope.”  Really, I just started to think, as they say, “outside the box” of Westernized, fundamental, evangelical Christianity.

It’s like a thought, or seed, would be planted in my spirit.  Then I would read something and find it spoke to that very thing.  This happened again and again.  It was truly a growth process.  It’s still happening.  Sometimes I  get frustrated with the lack of understanding I get from many friends who still believe as I used to, but I have to remember that my reaction then to someone who was where I am now would have been much the same.


One of the early books on my journey was Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace.”  A dangerous book indeed!  He said that after interviewing the Clintons (Bill and Hillary), he found that they could not be understood apart from their Christian faith.  The realization that someone could be pro-choice because of their Christianity was like, can I say this, being born again.
It was this sudden revelation that evangelicals represent only a portion of Christianity.  That right-wing Republicans don’t own God.  That if you are pro-war, pro-torture, pro-death penalty, calling yourself pro-life is a sick joke.  That the left, may actually have the higher moral ground on some issues.
The thing is, as Boyd points out in “The Myth Of A Christian Nation,” we should not label (here we are, back to labels) either side as “Christian.”  Our choices will, and should be influenced by our faith, but to call either side or stance “Christian” is a grave mistake.
Here’s another related McLaren quote:
“This sensitivity to vested interests in the Bible helps us, I think, when looking at political issues today. There are upsides and downsides to this or that immigration bill, tax bill, energy bill, whatever. People usually simply take sides – fer it or agin it. But the Biblical library teaches us that there’s a higher perspective, where we can learn to see both the upsides and downsides of all sides … That way, even if we are for something, we won’t be naive about its downsides, and vice versa.”

Soon after Yancey came Frank Viola with “Pagan Christianity.”  Then Wayne Jacobsen with “So, You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore.”  William P. Young’s “The Shack.”  The  a-m-a-z-i-n-g  Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis.”  The memoirs of  Donald Miller and Anne Lamott.  And yes, even Al Franken.
Books are a wonderful thing.  Someone should have invented them years ago.


So brick by brick…I’m sorry, I mean “spring by spring,” I’ve become less and less sure of what I know.  Which, contrary to the evangelical mindset has actually made me more and more sure of Who I know.
I’ve become much more willing to “agree to disagree,” which I’ve found actually angers and alienates those who feel they have to know everything.  I’ve been called names and “un-friended” because of choosing to opt-out of discussions that were going nowhere.  I love conversation.  I’m not at all fond of debate.


As I think back now, I can actually see seeds of this journey taking place during my separation and subsequent divorce.  It’s strange where and how God can get through to us.

You said you’re not sure where you’re at with the “gay thing,”  but that you are OK with that.  Being OK with uncertainty is, I think, one of the greatest forms of maturity in the life of a believer.
From what I can tell from your comments, you are in a wonderful, scary, beautiful place right now.  I’m actually excited to see where the river takes you.  Just be aware, many who are not where you are, even some friends and loved-ones, will see you and your beliefs as a threat to everything they hold dear.  Sometimes, that can hurt.  Sometimes, it hurts a lot.  But as a wise man once said, “Love Hurts.”  That is so true.  The love of Jesus got Him nailed to a cross.


Well, maybe this post addresses some of your comments.  Hopefully, it will create some new ones.
I truly looked forward to continued conversation.  Sure, I look forward to the later part of eternity.  But truly, there is joy in the journey.


May your journey be filled with wonder, awe, revelation, and all the blessings you can hold.
— df


[Note:  I’m reading a book right now I think you would love, since you’re such a fan of Lamott.  It’s “Evolving In Monkeytown:  How a Girl Who Knew All The Answers Learned to ask the questions,” by Rachel Held Evans.]

 

Tribbles Aren’t The Trouble. Labels Are. August 23, 2010


This article has made it’s way around the web. It’s been included in whole or in part, on many other sites & blogs like “Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented,” and “The Gay Christian Network” sub-site “Syncroblog For Sanity.” Since first posting it it 2010 (Really? Has it been that long?!?), it has went through various edits and updates. SO, if you’ve read it somewhere else, or if you haven’t read it for a long time, you may wish to re-read it.
– df
———————————–

Personality tests. You know the ones. Those like the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.” Some people I know fall neatly into one category or the other. Me, not so much. In all those kinds of tests I took, I was usually all over the map. They’ve never really been able to classify me. These tests seem to be designed to “pigeon-hole” people, and try to put them in neat little boxes. I’ve found that boxes, labels and “catch-phrases” oversimplify the vast complexity of our humanity. They also, to be sure, oversimplify the vast complexity of our sexuality. Labels may be fine for canned goods, but not always for people.

I’m writing here what is the most open, public, and personal statement about my sexuality; not to just talk about myself, but more to add my voice to a current discussion that all too often is a divisive “issue.” So, here goes…

I pretty much always knew that I was gay. Later in life, due to my religious views at the time, I considered myself ex-gay.
Now, I’m an “Ex” ex-gay.
I could be considered a gay man in a mixed-orientation marriage.
Since there are varying degrees of bisexuality, “bisexual” is probably my self-identifying term of choice.
Whatever my sexuality, here’s what I do know:
I am a man who has chosen to live in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship with the woman I love, and to whom I am genuinely sexually attracted. That doesn’t mean I’m not still attracted to men.
I am.
Contrary to accusations I’ve received, I am not being hypocritical or “denying my true self.” Many straight men are still attracted to women other than their spouse. To be faithful to the one you love, while recognizing that others are attractive, is NOT hypocritical. It is, in my opinion, just part of existing as sexual beings.

In “Thou Shalt Not Love: What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays,” Patrick M Chapman suggests that sexuality exists on a continuum. This can help explain why not everyone can so easily be crammed into pre-determined categories. Mr. Chapman’s book, by the way, is the single most complete and thorough treatment of the subject I’ve ever seen. He writes from the viewpoint of a gay Christian anthropologist. [Update: I’ve since found another simply wonderful book called “A Time To Embrace.” Together, these two books are pretty much a complete library on the subject.]

So, anyway, I went through so-called “reparative therapy.” I used to be part of an “ex-gay” support group. I no longer promote “ex-gay” ministries. I did receive some positive input throughout my therapy, but it wasn’t because of the “ex-gay” aspects. It was the simple, general psychology and self-worth portions which helped. The promises of a changed orientation are simply not true. Actually, they are downright harmful. [The practice is being banned is some places for minors, as well it should be!] I must say that of all the people I have personally known who say they “came out” of homosexuality, none of them ever quit being attracted to those of the same sex. I can say that in all my years of involvement with those groups, I’ve never seen it happen. I have seen many who have said it happened, end up proving it didn’t. Many people in the movement now admit that the only change is in behavior, and not in orientation. And as one man from the documentary “Through My Eyes” has said, “Well, that’s just not good enough.”

Another label I used to wear was “right-wing, Republican, evangelical Christian.”
The journey “out” of that sociopolitical mindset that masquerades as following God, is a journey many have taken, and more and more people who follow Christ are beginning to take. That journey became “big news” through the statements of author Anne Rice who, while remaining a “Christ follower” decided she had to “quit Christianity”. (God bless you, Anne).
As part of my journey out, (including much investigation, Bible study, research, prayer, and just plain living) many of my beliefs have changed. I am now convinced that when the Bible is properly approached, interpreted, and understood – not as a constitution, but as a divinely inspired community library – there is no reason to believe that God condemns same-sex relationships . Like many, it is because of my commitment to Christ (not in spite of it) that I have become gay-affirming, and take a stand for marriage equality. I won’t go into all the Biblical and extra-Biblical discussions, interpretation, analysis, and arguments here. Many have already done that, and have done a much better job than I could ever do. (Check out the additional resources at the end of the article.)

One thing I’ve found is that attitudes often change when things are moved from “issues” to “people.” Everything is simple when it’s all “in theory.” I can’t tell you how many Christian friends of mine have taken stands on various issues, only to do a 180 when the situation “hit home.” When it’s no longer about abstracts, and it’s about the people you know and love; when it’s about YOUR life, things look a lot different. No, that doesn’t change “truth,” but it can certainly make us realize we may not have had the grasp on truth that we thought we had.

OK. I know I’m an exception, and not the rule. I’m not one-of-a-kind, but I may quite likely be “one-of-a-few.” Even with marriage: My wife and I were divorced and remarried.  That almost never works.  I left the marriage thinking that it was the best thing for both of us.  (Alright.  Mostly best for me.)   After a couple years of “playing the field,” I came to the realization there was no one, of any sex, I wanted to spend my life with more than my wife.  My orientation did NOT change, but I realized that we love who we love.  That’s just the way it is.
Again, we are the exception. BUT, that is a large part of my point. All these labels, boxes, and definitions are sometimes a little too “neat” for real life. I know we can’t avoid them (and they can be very useful), but we need to be aware of their limitations.
Whatever labels you place on yourself, and whatever your religious persuasion or lack thereof, one label we all wear is “human.”
We’re all people.
And there are a couple of things the Jesus I believe in made very clear:
“Love God. Love people.”
I think that’s a pretty good place to start.

More “personal” posts:
Here I Am        The Vega, The Ghost, And The Rambling Old Man        CLICK        More About My Journey        Comments On A Comment        Baby Smashing: 101

SPECIAL NOTE:
In connection with the new book “TORN” by Justin Lee, check out his “SYNCROBLOG FOR SANITY Click this link: http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/sanity

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Through My Eyes        Holy Terror        Thou Shalt Not Love        A Time To Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics        Bible teachings at Gay Christian Network        Box Turtle Bulletin        A New Kind Of Christianity        For The Bible Tells Me So         [Photo from Star Trek, the original series, episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Original airdate December 29, 1967 ]

FOOTNOTE: I will say, even if you do believe the Bible is anti-gay (which I do not), that is no reason to oppose marriage equality. In the USA, you don’t have to be a Christian to get married. You don’t have to go to a church to get married. You don’t have to believe in God to get married. In this country, marriage is an act of the state. It is a legal contract. In the United States, marriage is not a religious right. It is a social institution. Just from a legal perspective, there is no reason to deny gay couples that legal avenue. Plus, since the divorce rate among evangelicals is as high or higher than the rest of the country, any talk from them about the sanctity of marriage is empty rhetoric, and laughably hypocritical.

THANKS: Prior to publication, this post was sent to a select few for feedback and input. This included those who self-identify as gay, ex-gay, and straight. I give sincere thanks to all who responded. Agree or disagree, those who chose to respond did so with respect. Of course the biggest thanks goes out to my wife, who has walked this journey with me for over three decades. What a true woman of God. She also gave input into this article, as well as the MUCH needed proof-reading. And she helped me choose from about 10 possible titles.

ADDENDUM: I don’t really like the argument from either side about whether or not homosexuals CAN change. To me, that misses the point. The bigger question is WHY change. Is it necessary or beneficial? Is is what God wants? I think not. At least no kind of “self-created” change. If, as in my case, one actually falls in love with someone of the opposite sex, and develops sexual attraction to that one person of the opposite sex, then that change (or maybe “expansion” is a better word) is “organic” and far different than some kind of forced or unwanted change. In the end, we love who we love.

 

Morality: Why I Am Better Than You June 28, 2009

(from “Searching For God Knows What” by Donald Miller)

        A great concern for those who defend a propositional gospel over a relational gospel is morality.  Some feel that if we do not emphasize morality, people will have too much fun and refuse to play by the rules the rest of us who know God have to play by.  [But] the Bible is not structured as a moral code.  It does not have all the answers on right and wrong.  A book containing a complete moral code would require all pages in all books.

         Lately, however I have been thinking of morality in less conceptual terms, less as a system of rules and regulations and more a concept very beautiful and alive.  Basically I am a simple sheep, having very little idea of what is right and wrong, and Jesus is going to pull me out of the ditches when I screw up, and protect me from spiritual enemies.

          I wonder if the idea of morality is just another ramification of the Fall.  Paul even says that the law was given to the Jews to show them they couldn’t follow the law.  Morality exists only because we are fallen, not unlike medicine exists because people get sick.  The hijacking of the concept of morality began when we reduced Scripture to formula, and a love story to theology, and finally morality to rules.  It is a very different thing to break a rule than it is to cheat on a lover.

          The moral message I have heard is often a message of bitterness and anger because our morality, our culture, is being taken over by people who disregard our ethical standards.  None of that is connected, relationally, to God at all.  Morality as a battle cry against a depraved culture is simply not a New Testament idea.  Morality as a ramification of our spiritual union and relationship with Christ, however, is.

          I was the guest on a radio show recently that was broadcast on a secular station, one of those conservative shows that paints Democrats as terrorists.  The interviewer asked what I thought about the homosexuals who were trying to take over the country.  “Which homosexuals are trying to take over the country?” I asked.  “You know,” the interviewer began, “the ones who want to take over Congress and the Senate.”  “Well,” I said, “I’ve never met those guys and I don’t know who they are.  The only homosexuals I’ve met are very kind people, some of whom have been beat up and spit on and harassed and, in fact, feel threatened by the religious right.”

Think about it.  If you watch CNN all day and see extreme Muslims in the Middle East declaring war on America because they see us as immoral, and then you read the paper the next day to find the exact same words spoken by evangelical leaders against the culture here in America, you’d be pretty scared.  I’ve never heard of a homosexual group trying to take over the world, or for that matter the House or the Senate, but I can point you to about fifty evangelical organizations who are trying to do exactly that.

          I continued, “As a Christian, I believe Jesus wants to reach out to people who are lost and, yes, immoral – immoral just like you and I are immoral; and declaring war against them and stirring up your listeners to the point of anger is only hurting what Jesus is trying to do.  This isn’t rocket science.  If you declare war on somebody, you have to either handcuff them or kill them.  But if you want them to be forgiven by Christ, you have to love them.  So go ahead and declare war in the name of a conservative agenda, but don’t do it in the name of God.  That’s what militant Muslims are doing in the Middle East, and we don’t want that here.”

          A moral message, a message of us versus them, overflowing in war rhetoric, is not the sort of communication that came out of the mouth of Jesus.  Some Christians, when considering immorality in culture, consider two issues:  abortion and gay marriage.  Moral ideas presented in the New Testament, and even from the mouth of Christ, however, involve loving our neighbors, being one in the bond of peace, loving our enemies, taking care of our own business before we judge somebody else, forgiving debts even as we have been forgiven, speaking in truth and love else we sound like clanging cymbals (turn on Fox News to hear what clanging cymbals sound like).

          Morality, in the context of a relationship with Jesus, becomes the voice of reason and calm in a loud argument, the voice of life in a world of walking dead, the voice of Christ in a sea of self-hatred.

Buy “Searching For God Knows What” at:
http://astore.amazon.com/lifewalk_store-20?node=2&page=5

 

 
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